K. Patricia Aviezer is President of Inside Track to College. She has 27 years of experience as a college counselor. She attended Beth Israel School of Nursing and CUNY--Lehman College. She is a member of IECA, HECA, and NACAC.
Insights and advice
What inspired you to become a college counselor?
Helping students achieve their goals is the reason I went into college counseling.
What do you enjoy most about your position?
Working with students and their families, discovering new things about colleges and their offerings, and understanding how to navigate the college selection and application process.
What is the biggest challenge you face in your position, and how do you tackle it?
Keeping up-to-date on all of the changes occurring in the pursuit of higher education: managing financial concerns, competition for admission, the impact of testing on the selection process, and helping students keep everything in balance during this process.
What are some of the steps you take to cultivate a college-bound culture among your students?
- Starting early with presentations at local high schools.
- Placing an emphasis on the importance of academics in the college process.
- Sharing my expertise with students and their families.
What are your top goals for the students you work with?
- Students should be in the "driver's seat" during the college process, and I do everything I can to provide them with the information and structures they need for them to make informed and personal decisions.
- Families need to understand the magnitude of this investment and how important it is to invest their time up front to feel comfortable with their decision.
What is the one piece of advice you would give to college counselors who are new to the profession?
This is a field that requires "continuing education," so do your research and keep current.
What are some common misconceptions that students have going into the college admission process?
- They don't know what they don't know! That may sound cliché, but it is my experience that there are many misconceptions about the college process and many students and their families are amazed once they get into college exploration just how complicated it can be.
- The landscape is constantly changing: legislative changes in financial aid and tax write-offs; revisions in test format (the SAT just announced that they will be revamping their test); knowing which colleges superscore the ACT; admission entry expectations, which change annually; what programs are being invested in at various colleges and what type of students they're looking to bring in.
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?
I emphasize developing an open line of communication early on and continuing the dialogue especially if circumstances change. Ultimately it is the student who will be attending college and whose best interest we all have at heart.
Have you seen students successfully use social media as a tool in the college admission process?
Yes, especially with students involved in the arts and sports where online portfolios and blogs can be a great way to enhance their profile.
What can/should a college counselor do to help students prepare for the SAT or ACT?
- Take academic courses that will prepare them for college.
- Get familiar with these tests.
- Determine which test works best for them.
- Set up a testing schedule that will work best for them.
- Understand what their target number is, based on the colleges on their list.
What is your strategy for helping students find financial aid?
Informing students and their families about the "real cost" of college and providing them with the best tools to investigate college costs early in the process.
In your experience, what makes a counselor successful in his or her role as an editor of college application essays?
- Respect the students' abilities and listen to their voice in their writing.
- Assist them with understanding what the prompts are really asking.
- Ask them if they feel they are really "personally seen" in this essay. Does it give the reader insight into who they are?
- Did they follow directions?
- Is it in English?
What is your process for helping students narrow down the list of schools to which they will apply?
- The colleges should span a range competitively but contain all of the attributes they are seeking in a college.
- They should visit schools. It is the best way to determine if the college is right for them.
In your opinion, what are some of the best ways that students can make themselves stand out beyond their applications?
- Visiting colleges is important.
- Researching their particular department of interest and making contact.
- Attending social events on campus and getting familiar with the "style" of events; this is especially important with performing arts students.
Finish this sentence: On my first day of work as a counselor, I wish I had known...
...how important my mentor was going to be. Working alongside a counselor with 28 years of experience in college counseling was life changing for me.
What would you consider your biggest accomplishment or your proudest moment as a college counselor?
Oh, this is easy! Every time I get a call, e-mail, or text message from a student and feel their relief and excitement about getting into the college of their choice. Luckily, this happens very often.
Favorite book: Fire in the Head
Favorite musician or band: Lots of answers for this one and the list keeps growing...
Favorite hero of fiction: It's fiction, after all.
Favorite movie: Empire of the Sun
Favorite quote: "If you find it in your heart to care for somebody else, you will have succeeded." -Maya Angelou
Favorite place you've traveled to: Ireland
Favorite meal: Crème brûlée in any form.
One super power you wish you had: Transformation.
Favorite college memory: Being free to take the courses I really wanted to learn more about.
Five people you would invite to a dinner party: George Orwell, Sherlock Holmes (or Conan Doyle), Ben Franklin, Leonardo Da Vinci, and George Carlin.