How Counsellors Guide a Student to Get That Ivy League Ticket
The idea is to help the student recognize and capitalize the strengths
Ironical as it sounds, the Indian educational dream is to head abroad and get a foreign education. This is why; March is the milestone month for entrepreneurs in more ways than one. Most of them will be in the throes of finishing their board exams, but for those who have applied to US, UK and Canadian colleges, it’s admission time! And for all mentors and counselors in the realm of international admissions, it’s a busy time indeed.
The high school years are demanding of most students as they are at the fag end of adolescence; childhood slips by in the struggle to find a balance between wants, desires, ambitions and capabilities. School work becomes a grid of marks and grades-added to this is the International application process which requires standardized testing, extra curricula’s, community service and writing samples in forms of essays and statement of purpose!
Recognizing the Student’s Strengths
A counsellor’s journey with students begins a couple of years back from this date – they come to us seeking information, knowledge and help - some diffident and unsure, others confident and a few overtly sure! But they all have dreams. There is no one formula which works for all. Our interactions are designed to decode the student-individualized sessions that slowly cuts through the layers to establish trust between the mentor and student. The idea is to help the student recognize and capitalize the strengths, accept inherent weaknesses and then work towards overcoming them. It’s not just about the ‘best’ college but the college that is ‘best’ for the individual child; it’s about finding the college which will nurture and support the individual student in finding his potential. The goal is a coveted admission(s), but the journey is transformative for both the student and the mentor! We believe the student (with a little bit of help) must own the process, and with encouragement, most students rise to the occasion.
Dealing with the Parent Pressure
But the journey is not without a little bit of drama-parents who want the best for their child and that usually means ‘Harvard’ or ‘Princeton’- colleges with admission rates in single digits; NRI Uncles and Aunts who descend at our offices scrutinizing our credentials and regaling us with tales about their children and their neighbour’s children who achieved perfect scores and made their way to the top 20. A not so subtle challenge is thrown at us – our defense made more difficult as confidentiality prevents us from disclosing the concerned student’s mediocre grades. But nothing beats the ‘essay’- each US applicant applies to 10 colleges and has to write 20-25 essays - there is brilliant writing, mediocre writing, bad writing, fantasies and at times simply ‘irreparable’ essays! This becomes a cause of much trauma and heartburn for both the student and the editors. With tight schedules and deadlines, the mentor is left playing peacemaker between the student and the editor till the last minute!
We demand, cajole, request and at times threaten- but finally the deadlines are met. It’s the ‘calm before the storm’ before the results come in staggered doses-there are success stories and there are heartbreaks. While we revel in our students success, it is painful to see rejection in another child’s eyes- at times like this, we just shift the perception of success to another door, another gateway, another path, for we believe, there’s a place for every student under the sun!
Adarsh Khandelwal is the Co-Foudner of Collegify, a college consulting firm for studies abroad.