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 the sweltering summer temperatures to gather as much information as I could about some of the different institutions located in Southern California.
By the end of my whirlwind week of college visits, I found that there are some common themes across many campuses in terms of the application process. Nearly every college I visited uses the Common Application and practices holistic admissions. Yet every college had its own unique programs, opportunities, and student experience, as well. I think one of the toughest things about this job will be trying to become an expert on every college, especially when there are over 4,000 colleges in the U.S. alone!
I’m looking forward to getting to know the students and families in the coming months and years, and I realize that I have a lot to learn and many, many more colleges to visit. The great thing is that I’m not alone—there are seasoned college counseling veterans whom I can ask for advice throughout this journey and there are other new college counselors like me who can relate to this huge career change. At the end of the day, I’m excited to work with a diverse group of students to help guide them through this significant stage of their lives. Most of all, I’m glad to know that although I may not be in college admissions anymore, both sides of the desk form a partnership to work with the most important group at the center of this process: our students.
By Meredith Britt