Better vs. revolutionary

Since 1999, 44 classes of new Collegewise counselors have completed our college counselor training. And from former admissions officers from highly selective colleges, to former high school counselors, to working professionals switching careers and even recent college grads starting their very first job, we’ve graduated them all as fully fledged counselors capable of expertly guiding our students the Collegewise way. It’s a remarkable transformation to take place in just about 40 hours total. But that’s the magic of our counselor training. We prioritize it, we constantly improve it, and for 20 years, training has been one of the things Collegewise does best.

And starting this week, we’re blowing it up, starting over, and rebuilding our training program from scratch.

It’s not that we’ve been resting on our training laurels. Over the years, we’ve introduced new approaches, multiple trainers, and on-demand webinars, all in an effort to get better. But success has a funny way of constraining you over time. After building and iterating on our training for so long, we’ve gotten used to doing things a certain way. Too many elements are now so ingrained that it’s hard to imagine changing or doing away with them entirely. What worked so well yesterday has actually made it harder for us to innovate today. And we’re at the point where starting over actually feels pretty liberating.

Our company, our service, and the world have evolved a lot in the last 20 years. We’re a much larger company today, hiring and deploying counselors both domestically and internationally. There are more counseling subjects, scenarios, and challenges to cover. We have new technologies, in-house subject experts, and even a full-time filmmaker at our disposal now. To weave them into our existing model feels forced, like layering upgrade after upgrade on a product that was designed to do one thing and is now being asked to do another. Every product has a natural lifespan. And the best way to breathe new life into this product is to build a new one.

We’ve never seen any college counselor training that even comes close to the depth and breadth of ours. But we’ve finally reached a point where our training ideas, needs, and assets are bigger than incremental change can accommodate. Better is great. But we’re ready for revolutionary.

This week, I’ll be holing up in a conference room with Allison, Arun, and Frank—the same team that built our College Counseling Master Class together. We’ll ask and try to answer big questions. What is this training for? Who is it for? What is crucial to our success? How will we know if it works? We’ll fill blank whiteboards. We’ll discuss and debate. And if history and this team are any indication, we’ll eventually emerge with a plan to build something innovative, exciting, and worthy of becoming part of Collegewise. We’re eager to get started, and I’ll share updates on our progress as we make it.