Inside each student is a story. Sometimes it has already been scribbled out in paper, with phrases rambling so long they ask the reader to gasp for air. The words, swollen with raw emotions, strike the reader like a paper cut. Other times the story has gone missing. There are no words on the paper. All I see is a student insisting they have nothing to say. They say there is no point in doing a perimeter search and that even if I had a way to dissect their body, all I would say afterwards is, “That’s so average…” But what separates me from other college counselors, and what makes me the ideal candidate over others, is that I’ve always found THE story.
On a less dramatic note, I’ve worked with countless students who show me their drafts that are “almost done”. They’ve received an 8/10 from their English teacher and their college readiness coordinator told them all it needed was more impactful words. But when I come along, I am not afraid to question the fundamental premise behind their writing. When a student writes that they want to improve the water quality in India, I show up with the “so-what” and the devil’s’ advocate arguments. My strong knowledge in a variety of subjects and innate curiosity for learning more allows me to have something useful to say no matter what the student wrote about. My comments might cause some despair and existentialist thoughts but they are all for a great cause. I believe in the classical idea that college applications can serve as a time for self-discovery. I know how to walk that fine line between playing the college admissions game -getting students to “package themselves for consumption” as William Deresiewicz said in Excellent Sheep – and mediating an application process that is personally useful for them.
Like John Hammond of Jurassic Park, I relish in questioning common narratives, changing paradigms and breathing life in places where it was once thought impossible. I love college counseling and would want to keep doing it formally or informally for the rest of my life.