Confession: I almost didn’t apply to Collegewise. I had the job description up on my computer for over a month, wrestling with the idea of becoming an independent counselor. I worked as a college counselor at a private high school and was frequently frustrated by the idea that our families were hiring outside people to help their students with their applications. What type of training or experience did these outside people even have? We told our families frequently that they didn’t need to hire an independent counselor, going so far as developing an official statement about it and putting it on the school’s website and sending a copy home to all of the families of the senior class. Yes, I know the Collegewise job description said that I wouldn’t be joining the “dark side of counseling,” but 1) isn’t that just lip service and 2) at the very least, wouldn’t becoming an independent counselor myself make me a hypocrite?
I hemmed and hawed over it so much that my girlfriend told me I needed to make a decision to apply or not but, either way, she was tired of hearing about it. Ultimately, I decided to submit an application and see where it went. I had known of Collegewise through meeting people on counselor fly-ins and at conferences and they seemed nice and fun. Who knows - it’s very possible that I won’t even get an interview, I thought. And applying for a job doesn’t mean that you are signing up to work there, right? A few weeks after sending in my cover letter and resume I was fortunate enough to be offered an interview, and the conversation stopped me dead in my tracks.
I hung up that Zoom call energized by the work that was being done at Collegewise. Their student-centered, ethical approach to counseling perfectly aligned with my philosophy of the work. My attitude towards the position quickly shifted from “see what it’s about - you can always say no if you get an offer” to “I want this job. Bad.” As I progressed through the interview process and learned more about the approach Collegewise took to their counseling, these thoughts only became more real.
But I still had that lingering worry that I would be a hypocrite if I became an IEC. As I did more research on Collegewise, I had a few realizations that eased my mind.
- Free Stuff: There are so many resources that Collegewise puts out for free. The Common App Guide is incredible. They put on webinars weekly (or so it seems) at no cost to families. They will go speak anywhere, even if no students are signed up for their services. They even have a video series that students can sign up for to help with applications and learn more about the admissions landscape. All of this for free? Who does that?!
- Broader Scope: I’d have the ability to help more students. Collegewise’s reach and ability to make an impact is far greater than what I experienced working at a private high school. Sure, I was able to help the community at that school, but it was pretty much just contained to that campus. Working with Collegewise, I’d be able to interact with students from a variety of high schools throughout the country. Sure, some attend private schools, but most of the students I’d be working with don’t, and their access to counseling offices that are not overstretched and have the bandwidth to provide in-depth college search and application guidance is probably limited.
- Learning is Cool: I’d become better at my job. Working with a more diverse caseload of students would mean I’d have to become well-versed in far more schools. I often found schools and thought it’d be great if we could get a student there, but I just know it wouldn’t be considered by this community. I’d have to learn more about those places because odds are that I’d be working with a student who actually would consider it. Goodbye comfort zone, hello professional growth.
After making it through the application and interview process I was extended an offer. I was pumped, but that nagging thought remained. I had a few more conversations with people at the company, making sure that what I grew to admire about the company wasn’t just smoke and mirrors. I realized that I was searching for a reason to not take the job, which was dumb because it didn’t exist and I wanted to work here.
Since arriving at Collegewise, I’ve come to realize how foolish I was for being so hesitant. Every new hire goes through an extensive training that even the most veteran of counselors will learn something from. I personally filled out a whole notepad worth of new information. The students I’m working with do have diverse interests. Most importantly, I’ve come to realize just how much everyone here cares about the work they are doing. They care about kids, they are active in the profession, and they are making strides to better the admissions landscape. They know their work matters and they take it seriously. But they don’t take themselves too seriously (pro tip: brush up on your Taylor Swift knowledge if you decide to join us).
I’m not saying that Collegewise is perfect and trying to tell you that the grass is greener (although I will tell you that not having letters of recommendation to write on my plate is pretty sweet). The reality is that no place is perfect. Collegewise recognizes this and tries to improve in the areas they identify to be lacking in, which I’ve found to be rare in an employer.
If you’re still having doubts, I get it. I’ll just end with this: throughout my time here, I’ve never once felt like I sold out, and I do think that I’ve become better at my job. This side really isn’t dark.
With more than twenty years of experience, Collegewise counselors and tutors are at the forefront of the ever-evolving admissions landscape. Our work has always centered on you: the student. And just like we’ve always done, we look for ways for you to be your best self - whether it’s in the classroom, in your applications or in the right-fit college environment. Our range of tools include counseling, test prep, academic tutoring, and essay management, all with the support of our proprietary platform, lead to a 4x higher than average admissions rates.