THIS IS A SEARCH FOR A MATCH, NOT A RACE TO THE FINISH LINE.
The college admissions process can be daunting not only for the college-bound student, but for his or her parents as well. I have seen this first-hand, both as an independent counselor and as a mother. I strongly believe that there are many good “fits” between each student and the three thousand undergraduate programs we have in the United States. Students should not feel defeated before the college list is made or applications even written. They need to feel enthusiasm for the next step of their education as opposed to worrying about “where they might not get in.”
My job is to educate with empathy, guide with clarity, and maintain a sense of humor. I become the major cheerleader and organizer throughout the admissions process. Whether working side by side or through email, I feel no greater joy than when a student has an “aha!” moment, making a discovery about himself or herself, and we work towards writing that down so that colleges understand who this exciting, young person really is. I can often find the “thread” – what makes someone unique and interesting – and I try to incorporate this into a cohesive message to the admissions staff. Admissions officers have limited time on each file, so I help give them a snapshot they can remember: “Oh, that’s the potential medical journalist,” or, “That’s the athlete who delivered food in the Bronx every week” or, “That’s the actress who dealt with her medical problems through skills learned in her weekend improvisation classes.” No one is “packaged,” but I help find and present the essence of each student, as a person.
I meet first with the student and his or her family. Sometimes, at the beginning of our first meeting, the student will sit crumpled on my comfy couch with arms firmly crossed, not quite ready to open up. By the end of our meeting, though, I get a smile and sigh of relief from everyone – this is all going to be OK with Audrey helping us. I am a realist, but a kind, caring, cajoling, effective and efficient one. I also ask that the student think about that first meeting: would she or he like to work with me? Students need to know they are in control. This is their process.