If you run a private counseling business, you’re likely prepared to celebrate the May 1 end of senior season. Once you know where each of your students is headed this fall, consider doing your own senior season debrief.
Since the early years of Collegewise, we’ve taken some time after senior season to look back and evaluate how things went for our students and for us. It’s tempting to turn your thoughts to things that have nothing to do with college essays and early decision deadlines, but the best time to evaluate senior season is as soon as possible after it’s complete. The work, the challenges, the results—it’s all fresh in your mind. That won’t be true when the next season starts. And by that time, you’ll likely be too busy to reflect.
Here are a few questions to consider to get you started:
1. What were your seniors’ results, and what numerical qualifications did they present (GPA and test scores)? We track all of this on a spreadsheet at Collegewise. And next year when one of our Collegewise students wants to know how she stacks up against applicants at Stanford or Colorado College or UNC or DePaul, we’ll first look at the data from last year. Yes, for many colleges, predicting admissions results involves a lot more than just grades and test scores. But numbers have their place. In fact, the exercise of recording those numbers and results can actually help reveal some of the answers to the questions below.
2. What were your surprises this year? This might be an individual student’s admissions results or a particular school whose admissions or denials were not as predictable last year. Will you change your work next year in response?
3. What types of families did you most enjoy working with? What type did you least enjoy? Could you somehow attract more of the former, and better manage—or even turn away—more of the latter?
5. And most importantly, looking back at this season, what would you have done differently in retrospect? What would have made you a better counselor, or taken stress away from your job, or created a better experience for your customers?
Write it all down, almost like a reminder or a to-do list for yourself. Then file it away and get on with your post-senior season enjoyment. When you start to gear up to help the Class of 2017 apply to college, the lessons learned from the Class of ’16 will be right there waiting for you.