For the last four years, we’ve spent some portion of our summers volunteering at College Summit, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping under-resourced students get into college. And nobody here has spent more time and energy helping College Summit kids than Jennifer. So we were exchanging some group high-fives when College Summit was featured in a PBS special on social entrepreneurship and Jennifer’s interview was included. You can find the article, watch the video, and even sign up to volunteer with College Summit here.
Not too many people get really, really excited about college trivia like we do. But those who do certainly fared well in our college trivia contest in which we promised one month’s worth of free groceries to the person who fed us the tastiest morsel of college trivia. And the winner is:
Tim Templeton doesn’t even work in education; maybe he should. He sure does know an awful lot about his alma mater, Cornell University. And Tim edged out the competition in our contest with his submission, "The Brain of Edward Rulloff." Rulloff was a 19th century criminal dubbed the "learned murder" who had a dual personality. A self-taught doctor and lawyer who spoke 28 (no, that’s not a typo) languages, Rulloff was also a thief and a vicious murderer whose victims reportedly included several members of his own family. Today, Rulloff’s unusually large brain, one of the largest ever recorded, is preserved in the psychology department of Cornell University. Now, that’s some good trivia.
We had our first retreat in February (and by "retreat," we don’t mean a military operation in which we withdrew our forces). Our Orange County, Los Angeles and New York offices retreated to a classroom in Irvine for two days to discuss some of the finer points of college counseling. What are some of the finer points? Things like financial aid, crafting appropriate college lists, and improving our process for getting our seniors through applications. And a scavenger hunt.
This photo was taken during the "lunch" portion of day #1, lunch being an especially finer point of college counseling.
We don’t need much to have a good time at Collegewise. Just good friends, good food, and of course, Snoop Dogg* (doesn’t everybody need a little more Snoop in their lives).
The Collegewise 2007 Holiday Party at The House of Blues on the Sunset Strip was a rousing success. A total of 22 Collegewise employees and significant others attended which, as Kevin pointed out, may not seem like a lot of people if you work at Google who, at last count, had roughly 6,845 more employees and who-knows-how-many-more significant others than we have. But Collegewise has experienced our own Google-like meteoric rise since the first holiday party which took place in 2001 with two employees in Kevin’s living room. So our little holiday party was pretty exciting for us.
*Yes, Snoop spells "Dogg" with two Gs.
The Irvine counseling quartet of Jennifer, Margot, Allison and Kyle recently returned from a tour of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, UC Santa Barbara and UWT (the University of Wine Tasting, which was their favorite of the three, by the way).
UCSB alumn Kyle proved to be an adept tour guide for her alma mater, as the counselors are now able to point out the best chili dog stand, the most ideal spot for beach tanning, and of course, the best field for weekend mud football.
In spite of a lack of significant photographic evidence to substantiate this claim, we really do have a new office space in Los Angeles. It’s big and beautiful with windows and offices and we can’t wait to show it off on our blog and in person.
We’re still working on more photographs. Arun has spent quite a bit of time agonizing over where to hang each individual college pennant and poster, if they should be arranged by color or college conference, and whether or not posters should be framed (and if so, with or without backing?–so many decisions!). In the interim, he didn’t want us taking pictures until those decorations are hung in the office with care.
Kevin, Arun and Alex enjoyed our stay at the annual NACAC (National Association for College Admissions Counseling Conference). Some people get excited about seeing Angelina Jolie or Leonardo DiCaprio on the street, but NACAC lets us meet and learn from people like Parke Muth (at left), an admissions officer from University of Virginia and the inventor of the McEssay analogy we’ve cited hundreds of times in our Collegewise essay seminars. His session for counselors about writing letters of recommendation was standing room only. We caught up with Lloyd Thacker from the Education Conservancy (at right) whom we’ve really come to like and admire for his organization’s efforts to remove commercial interference in college admissions. And most importantly, we were able to spend time with admissions officers and counselors who over the years have become friends as well as colleagues.
The best part about NACAC is that we’re annually reminded just how many smart, good people there are working in the world of college admissions, and how sincerely they all want to do the right thing for kids.
Collegewise celebrated our 8th birthday on August 16, as it was exactly eight years ago that Kevin officially submitted the "Doing Business As" paperwork to County Clerk’s office in Orange County. Since that day back in 1999, we’ve helped over 2,000 kids apply to college, and Collegewise students have attended over 500 colleges in nearly 40 states.
We celebrated with a dinner out together and were joined by Arun and Jessica from the LA office. We know that might seem like a fairly reserved celebration, but the birthday event took place on a Thursday night. And when you work with high school kids, Thursdsay nights are school nights, no matter how old we get.
New faces in the Collegewise crowd
There was a time not that long ago when we used to imagine what it would be like to have admissions officers leave their posts and come to work with us. Then Arun joined us in 2004 from Caltech and Christina from the SUNY system in 2005. And this week, we were lucky enough to add the most recent additions to our Southern California offices–college counselors Allison Cummings from the University of Redlands and Jessica Schattgen from Whittier College.
Allison will join Collegewise – Irvine while Jessica will work with Arun in our Los Angeles office.
And Collegewise – NY’s Alex Weiner has added a few more desks to his offices to accommodate his most recent additions–college counselors Carly Amodio and Breda Malfesi.
They’re all smart, funny, and frankly, quite pleasant to be around. We’re really excited to have them with us.
Collegewise counselors Jessica Schattgen (Los Angeles) and Allison Cummings (Irvine) recently completed our five-week college counselor training that culminates in a two-day final exam, an exam on which they both earned the highest scores ever recorded since we began our training program in nearly five years ago.
To celebrate, the Irvine crew traveled north to Los Angeles for a congratulatory dinner. We’re looking forward to seeing them put their admissions experience (and their curve setting final performance) to work helping kids get into college.