Originally Posted: Aug 31, 2011
Last Updated: Apr 3, 2013
Jeannie Borin is the founder and president of College Connections. She has 10 years of experience as a college counselor. Jeannie attended UCLA, where she earned a bachelor's in psychology, and UC Berkeley, where she earned a master's in education. She is a member of IECA, NACAC, WACAC, and HECA.
Insights and advice
What are some of the common challenges your students (and their parents) are currently facing in the college admission process?
Preparing an appropriate college list, completing applications in a timely manner, financial planning, writing college essays, and writing activity résumés.
What are some of the steps you take to help them successfully overcome those challenges?
Instruct on specific writing curriculum. Have CFPs (certified financial planners) give financial guidance. Teach them how to do Web research and conduct college visits. Discuss variables to consider in selecting colleges. Evaluate extracurricular activities. Assist in preparing résumés. Review high school curriculum. Create application timelines.
Have you seen any noticeable changes in college applicants in the recent economic climate?
Students have been applying to many colleges because of the competitive nature of admission.
Have you seen any shifting trends in the majors students intend to pursue?
It is still fairly balanced between the humanities and sciences.
What is one piece of advice you would give to college counselors who are new to the profession?
Develop a foolproof system of organization and respond to your students and parents as quickly as possible.
What are some common misconceptions that students have going into the college admission process?
That they can do this quickly. Also, being unfamiliar with many of the colleges that are out there.
Do you ever encounter situations in which students and their parents have different goals in mind? If so, what is your advice for helping them work together?
College is a family decision with the student at the helm--that message is reiterated as often as necessary.
Have you seen students successfully use social media (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.) as a tool in the college admission process? How do you advise students to edit their online presence?
If they wouldn't want to see something on the front of a major publication, then they shouldn't put it on the Internet. But one positive thing they can do is to sign up on specific colleges' fan pages.
What can/should a college counselor do to help students prepare for the SAT or ACT?
Help students create an appropriate timeline so they have plenty of time to prepare and practice. Counselors can also explain the differences between tests, which colleges accept which tests, and how many times they should take various tests.
What is your strategy for helping students find financial aid?
We have a free scholarship search database on our website, and we also give them the tools on where to get specific help. We assist students with scholarship applications, and we have a CFP that works with families on specific financial matters.
Describe what are, in your opinion, a few of the cornerstones of a successful college application essay.
Engage the reader. Write a brief story only you can tell. Don't repeat what can be seen elsewhere on the application. Write descriptively. Develop unique topics.
What is your process for helping students narrow down the list of schools to which they will apply?
Review the many variables to consider during the college process and prioritize them. Also, review admission information on colleges and see where the student fits.
What are, in your opinion, some of the best ways that students can make themselves stand out beyond their applications?
Develop unique interests. Present your résumé so your activities show depth and continuity. Show interest in a few activities over a longer period of time. And show growth in your involvement.
What would you consider your biggest accomplishment or your proudest moment as a college counselor?
So many of our students gain acceptance to their first-choice colleges. Students receiving acceptance letters are happy moments. Our alumni stay in touch. When students acclimate well to their college environment, it is tremendously rewarding. I also enjoy reading some incredible college essays.
Favorite book: Depends on my mood--recently, The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
Favorite hero of fiction: Holden Caulfield
Favorite movie: I'm a film nut--too many to mention one--Martin Scorcese films for starters.
Favorite band or musician: My tastes vary from classical to jazz to rock.
Favorite quote: The most important motive for work in school and in life is pleasure in work, pleasure in its result, and the knowledge of the value of the result to the community. -- Albert Einstein
Favorite places you've traveled to: All over--Italy, Paris, England, Canada, New York, Lake Tahoe
Favorite college memory: My experience as a Bruin Belle.