Reflecting on My “Freshman Year” as a College Counselor

It hasn’t quite been a full year for me as a college counselor, but with the school year drawing to a close (20 school days til graduation!), it’s time to look back on how my 'til “freshman year” on the high school side went. I started in the fall like most actual freshmen do—wide-eyed, optimistic, and ready to get to work. We started out the year with college night events for seniors and juniors and I quickly realized that managing the various application deadlines, different types of applications, and coordinating teacher recommendation submissions would be a lot to keep track of. I quickly filled out my own mock applications for the UC’s, the Cal State’s, a Common App, and I think I even started applications to Arizona, Indiana, Washington, and countless other universities so that I could help my students troubleshoot the issues they came across in their own application processes. (By the way, sorry to all the colleges who thought I was a prospective student! And in case you … [Read more...]

The Mad Dash to May 1

When I worked in admissions, the only thing that got me through countless admitted student events all spring was the countdown to one thing: MAY 1. Now that I’m on the high school side, I don’t have that same feeling of, “Can May 1 hurry up and get here already so I can have a break to get my suits dry cleaned/get home from work before 9pm/have one day to just sit at my desk and stare at my computer in peace?” It’s hard to see the agony some seniors put themselves through as they struggle to decide where to commit to attending for the next four years. Some students heard from a specific college and put down the deposit right away; others were denied at their top college and can’t imagine going to college anywhere else; and still others are seemingly in complete limbo. Most of the students coming by my office these days have endless questions about comparing financial aid awards, which housing option to apply for, how to decide where to go, and many other questions that are equally … [Read more...]

What’s the Deal With Teenagers and Procrastination?

This may sound like the intro to a bad comedy bit, but what's the deal with teenagers and procrastination?  As a reformed procrastinator myself, I get it.  It’s tough to juggle school demands, a social life, extracurricular activities, and maybe having dinner with your family once in a while.  But I’m finding that procrastination is a widespread disease that can lie dormant before coming on full-force. UC schools and other college like them make their firm Nov. 30 application deadline heard loud and clear at counselor conferences.  We, in turn, strongly encourage, urge, and constantly remind our students to not wait until 11:59pm on November 30th to press “submit,” unless they enjoy technical issues and want to risk their application not getting in on time or being considered at all. I’m particularly frustrated with students waiting until the last minute because of the panicked emails I received over winter break—a time for students and faculty alike to enjoy some well-deserved … [Read more...]

Taking the Plunge

After 5+ years working in college admissions, I found myself at a crossroads.  Do I continue working with students as an admission counselor or do I take a risk and follow my dream of becoming a college counselor?  I decided it was finally time to put myself out there and find out what this college counseling field was all about. I’m about to close out my first month on “this side of the desk,” and I can say I’ve already learned a ton.  You might be surprised that this is the case considering I haven’t met with any students or parents yet, but I’ve spent a good deal of time brushing up my general college application knowledge before fall is officially upon us.  In the course of one week, I visited 10 local colleges, including some campuses I was more familiar with due to recent WACAC conferences (LMU and Chapman) and other colleges that I had heard of but had little familiarity with (Pitzer and Occidental, to name a few).  I put on my comfiest campus tour walking-shoes and braved … [Read more...]