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Values I strive for

Excellence, intentionally defined

How do you define student success post-college? What about during college? What’s a successful college experience? After mulling over these three answers, how do you define success in the college app process? What are you and your family hoping for?

Every family is different—and usually, these definitions of success at each stage can differ even within families. I talk with each family at length to learn how each of you defines success, so that we can work together as the student pursues, operates at a high level of, and achieves excellence in this process. 

Unconditional positive regard

College apps can be stressful. Students care about their futures, and in my experience, above all else, they really (really) don’t want to let their families down. 

Along the same lines, parents and guardians also all care about their children and their futures. There’s infinite variety in how that care manifests—sometimes it’s a couple emails a week, and sometimes it’s letting the student do everything—including pay for college—themselves. 

In terms of familiarity with the current college admissions landscape, too, I’ve worked with families who are anywhere from “here’s our college spreadsheet” to “we have no idea how this system works.” I love working with families in either situation, and in any situation in between. 

With all of this in mind, ‘unconditional positive regard’ means that I try to listen a lot while cultivating infinite patience and boundless compassion—in other words, radical acceptance of where people are at. This means that I’m not judging you. All thoughts, feelings, and questions (even and especially repeat questions!) about the college process are welcome here. There's plenty of bandwidth for everything.


In short, there’s no ‘wrong’ way to feel about college apps—wherever you are is where we start, and wherever you are is just fine. 

Practical optimism / optimistic practicality

A college app process feels calm when people are happy with their results, and/or when they feel confident that no matter what happens, they’ll be happy with the outcome. 

I don’t control the college admissions landscape—or the geopolitical, cultural, or technological spheres, for that matter, all of which influence college admissions all the time. 

With that framework of understanding, I seek to understand absolutely as much as I can about the world as it stands and where it is going. I read a lot, listen a lot, and chat with folks in higher education—and people who represent many other industries (higher ed is a business, too!)—throughout the year. 

I feel strongly that students deserve to apply wherever they’d like to have the option to attend—dreaming big is crucial, especially for this as one of students’ first major life decisions. 

So, I encourage students to dream without limits—and at the same time, my only requirement is that students include at least three ‘likely’ schools on their college list. These are schools they’re actually excited about, at least a little bit. This is part of how we get to ‘calm’. 

Kind candor & authenticity

I believe families are best served when they have clarity, and when they can trust the accuracy of the info they hear. If I don’t know the answer to a question, I’ll tell you so, and we’ll look it up. That way, if I say something definitive, you know that I know what I’m talking about. 

I’ll also be realistic about the chances of admission at each school we talk about. And I’ll be nice about it. 

College apps are also reviewed by admissions committees with an eye for authenticity. So, in reviewing essays and activities lists, talking through options for schools to apply to, and helping students prepare for interviews, I filter for and celebrate authenticity, just as college admissions officers will be doing a few months later. 


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