That’s a wrap! My final student received the last notification of acceptance, from their portal, for the 2017 application season. (Yes, notification is slowly changing from fat and thin envelopes, to a click on a portal.) This past month has been an “excitement high” with my first set of students. I can’t help but to reflect upon this past year. I have so many questions for myself…What went well? What would I do differently? How will I use this past year’s experiences to improve this upcoming year’s work with my new juniors?
Bathing in all the joy, I proudly posted some of my student’s accomplishments on social media. It came from a place of being undeniably happy for them. Supportively, my social media friends posted many shout outs and “congratulated” ME. It all came from a place of encouragement in my new endeavors. But as everyone can understand, “congratulations” felt uncomfortable. Why? Because it is loud and clear that the high schoolers, of today, kill themselves in school to be able to get into the college of their dreams. It not only comes with a lot of hard work and sacrifice, but a constant juggle of balancing all the demands of being a junior. Here is just a short list: HOURS of homework, taking the most rigorous courses they can take, sport practices, work, community service, involvement in school, studying 100+ hours for SAT and ACTs, taking test prep classes, trying to write 10+ earth-shattering essays that bare their soul, creating an extracurricular list that shows passion and drive and lastly, let’s not forget, that they may want to be a normal teenager that hangs with their friends or maybe has a boyfriend or girlfriend!
I am in awe by what these kids are managing. My feelings on this subject are quite mixed, but that is for another blog! For now, my point is, no college consultant should take credit for their students’ successes in being accepted into college. It was their GPA, test scores, course rigor, essays, interviews and extracurricular activities that got them into school. So, my reflection on this past year is a clear identification, of my role, as a college consultant.
I bring this topic to the forefront because I have been voraciously researching college consultant websites to help develop my own. Through that exercise, I have been able to analyze how other consultants present themselves. I am surprised by the amount of consultants that slyly give themselves credit for their student’s accomplishments. They pitch themselves to future clients “if you use me, I know the tricks of the trade to get your child into a top-tier college.” Please don’t buy into this garbage.
By the time I have the first meeting with your student, often times, the bowling ball is two-thirds down the lane and about to strike the pins. Their academic profile is in place, courses are in motion and your child’s choice in extracurriculars are firmly rooted. Not to say that some changes can’t be made, but the stage has been set. MY role is not about getting them in. That is THEIR role as the applying student. My role is very process oriented. This is a highly emotional experience, I serve as a third party that helps navigate through the stress of this process. I am a seeker of the most current and accurate information. Often, a simple college question is Googled, only to lead you to the inundation of information and conflicting answers. I am a project manager that has created a way to methodically and strategically approach each step, in a timely manner, without missing the critical deadlines. I am an identifier of personality traits and preferences that are relevant to the individual, when searching for right match colleges. I am a fine-tuner of the applications and essays. On an ethical level, all applications and essays need to reflect the individual’s work. But after studying and researching the climate of what admissions officers are looking for, I can help students adjust their applications and essays to assure that they are putting themselves in the best light.
So when I say that I didn’t get my students into college, I am not being modest. What I won’t be modest about is the experience that I provided. It is my desire that when it is all said and done, that my students can look back on the past year and feel they got to know themselves a little deeper. They hopefully developed a stronger sense of who they are, what they aspire to become and now have found that special place to continue that self exploration.