I wish that more was written about the integral role of college admissions advisors and independent educational consultants (IECs) as educators. In the current, complex and often competitive terrain of college admissions, we teach.
I teach students about college curriculum, general education requirements, what it means to declare a major, the opportunities and options, how college differs from high school, the differences between liberal arts colleges and universities, and so much more. I teach parents how the college admissions terrain is so different than when we applied and the large role of enrollment management. I decode how colleges think and the importance many place on demonstrated interest and that some expect that families have nothing more to do than “college shop.”
I explain that the student will have options and so the challenge is to first self-assess and determine his or her goals, to next identify appropriate college choices based on an understanding of the student’s admissibility and the competitive terrain, and to then apply and gain admission to those schools. Particularly as the college search process needs to start earlier and earlier in the lives of high school students, I often find myself talking to 15-year-olds about what it means to be in college, which can feel like a remote abstraction. I teach students and parents how to quiet all the relentless “noise” out there and what to pay attention to, such as the student’s learning style and the family’s values, and to look within rather than to start with a focus on any particular colleges.
I also believe that IECs have an opportunity and a responsibility to educate college representatives about the tremendous stress students and families experience as they conduct the college search and application process. As we translate to students and families how schools interpret applicants, we should also advocate on behalf of the public for more sanity in college admissions.