I came across a file on my computer today entitled, "Counseling ideas" created Tuesday, August 10, 1999–six days before I opened Collegewise. I remember writing it on the last day at my former job and saving it on, yes, a floppy disk.
Some of the suggestions look pretty dated eleven years later (like asking colleges to mail me applications). But it's nice to see that we've made some version of all of these happen since then. And reading it was a little bit like opening up a time capsule.
Here's the unedited list.
- Write monthly newsletters home to parents. Help them understand more about admissions and why I do things the way I do.
- Do a lecture series as part of the program, things like interviews, college essays, secrets of admissions, etc.
- Student panels–former students who are freshmen in college come back at Christmas and discuss their experiences.
- The focus of this business should be on cultivating fulfilled students and helping them find the best college for them. We don’t want students to spend 4 years just trying to make themselves competitive for competitive colleges if it makes them unhappy.
- Teach basics of the college essay during free speeches. Show how quickly we can make an impact with smart advice.
- Encourage kids to come to meetings without parents. They'll talk more.
- Make files for students–maybe include a Polaroid.
- Things to have in a brochure: photos of kids/testimonials, big picture of “graduates” of program with their college sweatshirts, let people know we'll speak at PTA’s, community events, etc. We also have newsletters for teachers/counselors, kids and parents.
- Starting in September, request applications from the most popular colleges. Keep hard copies of colleges' applications filed so you always have the most current versions to work off.
- Posters from colleges on the walls (framed)
- At the conclusion of the senior year, have students and parents fill out evaluation form that includes space for testimonials.
- Develop a training program for new counselors. A 30-40 hour rigorous one. Include a practicum where they complete 20 hours of counseling work with me before they can meet with kids. Make a manual and materials. Possibly sell the training program in the future to other institutions.