College Planning & Application and Essay Counseling
Each year, my team and I work with a few dozen students on their college applications.
Students who work with us find that our process is more fun, effective, and life-changing.
Here's what one student shared in 2018:
"Working with the College Essay Guy team, I discovered who I am as a person, what I value, and how I specifically developed and express my values. Knowing who I am as a person was essential in genuinely presenting myself to college admissions representatives. I learned a lot about what I value as a person. I learned about the different qualities and characteristics that I have used in the past, and will continue to use in the future.”
Here’s what one parent emailed us in 2018:
“We wanted to send you this note before any college app results come out, so that you know our feedback is independent of any results :))
Your team truly follows your core counseling values, and Dad and I both have enjoyed seeing our daughter on this journey, figuring out insights about herself she herself was unaware about, discovering nuggets from her life that she thought were not valuable enough. Your genuine concern and interest in her application process are beyond what someone would do. All the skills she is learning through your sessions/emails are always going to stay with her.”
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“I really think your partnership with Ivana made some lasting, positive impressions. She was already a super academic writer and analytical thinker, but she is very modest and had a great deal of trouble starting her common app essay, partly because she did not know how to talk about herself. She also had no experience with creative writing. After your exercises, brainstorming techniques, and encouragement, she worked very hard on her common app essay and felt extremely good about the finished product. More important, she gained a new sense of confidence about expressing thoughts about herself and also enjoyed finding various, creative ways to write, including the framing work you talk about in your book. She was able to quickly write all of the other college essays, including the supplemental ones, and I noticed how well she expressed personal insights. Her creativity, as found in her writings, also increased significantly. Best of all, I noticed a new sense of joy she feels writing papers of all kinds. I really appreciate the impact you had on her. I am sure that the added skills she learned will be valuable in her studies at Columbia.”
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These are my core counseling values...
"Being listened to is so close to being loved that most people can’t tell the difference.” - David Augsberg
I try to listen in my sessions more than I speak. But what kind of listening? I like the term musical listening, which to me means hearing both what’s being said and what’s not being said.
If a student says to me, “So… I broke up with my boyfriend last week,” I try not to say, “Oh, I’m so sorry, that’s awful,” because I don’t actually know if that’s awful. Maybe it’s awesome. I try to practice accurate empathy. How? By staying curious. So I’ll ask something like, “How’s that going for you?” Because I never know what’s happening in their world. And I’ll learn a lot more if I’m curious about their movie rather than simply projecting my own.
I like to think of our role as a driver’s ed teacher: I try to imagine a student in the driver’s seat while I’m in the passenger seat. I have a steering wheel, a brake, and an accelerator, so I can steer, slow down, or ramp up a session when necessary. But ideally the student does the driving.
My friend Nicole once told me, “When someone is sharing their Truth, you shut up.” It can sometimes be tough to tell when someone is sharing their Truth, but if you sense someone might be doing so, I try to shut up.
Also, it can sometimes feel awkward to simply sit beside a student while s/he is writing. But sitting is great. In fact, sometimes it’s exactly right.
These two situations have one thing in common: “The being is the doing.”
Allowing someone time to process–either aloud or while writing–while I sit and simply hold space is a gift. And it’s enough.