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Education Lab Blog

Education Lab is a project to spark meaningful conversations about education solutions in the Pacific Northwest.

April 12, 2014 at 7:00 PM

In their own words: Students talk about high-school counseling, applying to college

Education Lab’s latest story focuses on the changing role of high-school guidance counselors. As traditional counselors’ face increased workloads, programs like Seattle’s Rainier Scholars and the National College Advising Corps are providing disadvantaged students with one-on-one assistance as they navigate the college application process.

We recently asked several students — some from Rainier Scholars, some from the National College Advising Corps and some who have worked with traditional counselors — to tell us what they’ve experienced as they apply to college.

How have counselors or other college advisers helped you?

Name: Marcus Jackson
Age: 18
School: DeAnza High School (Richmond, Calif.)

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Name: Sallie Lau
Age: 20
School: Williams College
Alma mater: Garfield High School

The most important thing that I’ve learned from Rainier Scholars is to be fearless in the face of difficulty. I’ve learned never to be afraid of too much work or working too hard. Often I hear classmates or friends say that they want to take an easy class or they are hesitant to take a class because it might be too difficult. The concept of some class or some teacher being “too difficult” or “too hard” is something that doesn’t scare me. Now, I understand that nothing is really that difficult or hard if I take small, manageable steps to accomplish a large goal or project. I’ve applied this to almost everything that I do, from things as small as planning budgeted family vacations, group research projects and to things as large as the college application process itself.


Name: Alexander Barbar

Age: 17
School: Ingraham High School

My counselor helped me by telling me I should explore all of my options and have a detailed plan of where I want to go and things that I want to study in order to help them narrow my options down.

zoeysalsbury2Name: Zoey Salsbury
Age: 16
School: Vashon High School

By the time (my counselors) had to write letters of recommendation, they had a lot of interaction with me already. They really knew me. I can’t imagine what it’s like when they have to write letters for 100 kids! And if you’re just a regular student following the standard high-school track, there’s not a whole lot of reason for you to meet with a counselor. So how can they really know you?

What was the hardest part of applying to college?

Name: Alan Zeng
Age: 21
School: Occidental College
Alma mater: Garfield High School

When I applied for college, the most difficult part of the process was simply knowing what the different parts of it were. Neither of my parents attended or applied to college, so I received minimal advice or guidance from them. Rainier Scholars was a huge blessing for me because it offered resources and wisdom regarding college that I had little access to. Their counselors hosted workshops that taught on the advantages of in-state and out-of-state colleges, differences in large universities and small liberal arts colleges, and the financial aid process.

EllisSimani2Name: Ellis Simani
Age: 18
School: Claremont McKenna College
Alma mater: Lakeside School

One of the most difficult parts of applying to college for both myself and several other Rainier Scholars is finding a place that meets both our academic and financial needs. I was fortunate to have access to extremely knowledgeable and driven college counselors at Lakeside School, but even with their support I found that there was a lack of guidance tailored specifically to applicants who couldn’t afford a significant portion, if not any of their college tuition. I often felt that my options were limited to a select group of schools which my family could afford while several of my peers were able to work with the counselors to develop a more robust list of schools fit for them. This experience was made even more difficult by not having the financial ability to visit a number of the schools I was interested in applying to.

What advice would you give to a younger student who is just beginning the process?

Name: Victor Gomez
Age: 18
School: Castlemont High School (Oakland, Calif.)

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Sharon Felix2Name: Sharon Felix
Age: 18
School: Chief Sealth High School
Attending next fall: University of Washington

Always remember that everything happens for a reason. I think the biggest obstacle for a student is getting a rejection letter. It takes away a part of the excitement and hope during the whole application process. But you have to get past that and continue applying to other schools and doing your best in school. You’ll get into the school you’re meant to go to. Stay positive, and don’t lose track of your future plans just because of some rejection letter that you’ll most likely forget about in a few years.

AshtonName: Ashton M. Stabbert
Age: 18
School: Ingraham High School
Attending next fall: Shoreline Community College

Brag about yourself. This is the time to show the world how amazing you are and all of the great things you have done in this world, and all the things you want to accomplish. Never be intimidated by scholarships, and apply for as many as you possibly can, because chances are you deserve it.

Comments | More in News, Your voices | Topics: college counseling, higher ed, National College Advising Corps


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