Our College Counseling Experience

By Lisa Conquergood, Parent to EPS Students in Class of 2018 and 2020

“Relax, everything is going to be ok.” “Your child is going to go to college.” “They will get in.” “It will all work out.” “They will end up where they were meant to be.” These are examples of advice we received while our boys were going through the college search process.  The, “I’ve seen this a thousand times,” was my least favorite. Well, this is my *first* time and it’s my kid!!!

It’s easy to get sucked into the college worry whirlpool. Bill and I have been through it once before and we’re dead smack in the middle of it for a second time. So, we’ve lived it. We are living it. We understand.

Here’s the funny thing, all of that well-meaning advice is true. The kids end up where they will flourish because they are well prepared to flourish anywhere. They may not end up where they thought they’d be at the start of the process, but they almost always end up in the right place. Because there are many “right” places.  Bart Gummere has a fantastic quote that I often pass along to friends and remind myself of from time to time which is this, “The process of choosing where to go to college is even more important than where they choose to go.”  Sage advice. As a parent, you won’t live on the campus, they will. You won’t be there to help them make friends. And when the inevitable homesickness hits and they are second-guessing their choice, they will remember it was their choice to be there, not yours, which helps them grit through that bumpy time until they have a fun-filled weekend and forget they were ever homesick.

This isn’t to minimize the process, it can certainly feel daunting. It is fraught with emotion, decisions big and small, logistics, finances, and so much information. So, it is incredibly helpful to have a guide, a coach, a source of information, a touchstone, a voice of reason. The EPS college counseling team is all of those things and more.

Such a big part of knowing if a school is the right fit is a feeling, it’s “I’ve found my peeps,” it’s “I know I could learn here.” EPS teachers and staff know our kids so well they are incredibly well suited to help sort through the myriad of options to help your kid hone in on what is important to them, where they think they will thrive and helping them find schools that fit that criteria. I also appreciate the candor. When a college counselor says I’m not sure you would be happy at college X for these reasons, it is incredibly helpful and frankly kind of a relief.

We attended a college fair this fall, and I think it was at least my eighth one. We had a serious plan of attack; who to talk to and what he wanted to know. A plan he had formulated by working with his college counselor. We stepped inside the double doors of the hotel ballroom and immediately to our right was a student standing with her parents in a complete state of overwhelmed shock with tears streaming down her face. The college process doesn’t have to be this way. The EPS process ensures that it is not. It’s about being curious about what is available, learning about options, maybe visiting new places. With a good team behind your student, a game plan, and the right attitude I dare say this whole thing can actually be fun.  Seriously.