A former student from Minnesota took time from his busy academic schedule at the University of Chicago to write these words about the time we spent together working on college selection and applications. He is now finishing up his first year, and to hear him tell it, he’s loving where he has landed. Though he thanks me, the truth is that he did the work. He made the grades, studied for the tests, won his awards, and did all the heavy thinking about which sorts of schools would be right for him. He also wrote the essays and performed in the interviews. I was glad to be alongside him, cheering him on.
Here’s what he had to say:
When my parents and I decided to hire a college counselor, I had some reservations, and some preconceptions of what such a counselor would do. I expected that I would get some assistance writing my essays, a few lectures telling me to “look for the right fit” and other typical forms of help in the college application process. However, when I first began working with Mark Montgomery, I realized that he was willing to offer so much more. His goal was to find the right college for me, of course. Instead of just counseling me to beef up my resume and apply to Harvard because it’s a “good school,” he became much more of a mentor in my many pursuits. He gave forth as much effort as I put in to the process; I felt like I was at the helm, steering the search where I saw fit, but with his always-available guidance. He didn’t shy away when I became discouraged, and was not put off by my occasional stubbornness and indecision (at least he never showed it, and that’s what counts!) By continuing to gently push for improvement he made me think about myself – what I wanted in a school, but also what I wanted as I moved forward in my life – and on top of getting into my number one school, I expanded my personal horizons and grew in my self-awareness. Sure, the process was arduous. But a college search is always difficult nowadays, and it seems only to be increasing. Mark helped me think lucidly about the whole search, and I rarely got bogged down in the petty resume building or prestige envy that some of my friends quickly became mired in. At the time I write this, I have just finished my second quarter at the University of Chicago, and have never felt more invigorated mentally and connected socially. Through allowing me to control the endgame of the process while simultaneously pushing for me to discover what was truly best for me, Mark led me to the right school, not merely the “best” school on my list. And for that I am immensely grateful. The college search may seem insurmountable, but with someone like Mark at your back it can actually be satisfying, strengthening, and fulfilling.