Stephanie Klein Wassink is Principal at Winning Applications. She has 15 years of experience in college consulting and holds a B.A. from Brown University and an M.B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School. She is a member of IECA and NACAC.
Insights and advice
What inspired you to beomce a college counselor?
While I graduated from Brown, I knew after my second week there that it was not the right choice for my learning style. I needed more structure and Brown offered everything but. After working in admission at Northwestern, I went to the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School for my M.B.A. This time I had found the "right fit" school. Knowing how admission works and the difference the wrong/right fit school can make inspired me to become a college counselor.
What do you enjoy most about your position?
I like working with the students and helping them reach their goals.
What are some of the steps you take to cultivate a college-bound culture among your students?
Visiting colleges so that students can visualize the next step is irreplaceable. Students do not have to fly across the country to visit a college. I suggest they see local colleges so that they can get a feel for the setting, size, and ambiance right in their own backyards.
What are your top goals for the students you work with?
My goals have to align with their goals. That is, after all, the best way to motivate them.
What is the one piece of advice you would give to college counselors who are new to the profession?
This field is constantly changing. In order to do the best job you can for your clients, you have to continue to educate and re-educate yourself.
Have you seen students successfully use social media as a tool in the college admission process? How do you advise students to edit their online presence?
I speak to this point early on when I work with students. Because the Internet is not private, they have to be willing for anything they put on it to follow them, not just into the college admission process but far beyond. If it would make your grandmother uncomfortable, it should not be out there.
In your expereince, what makes a counselor successful in his or her role as an editor of college application essays?
The ability to step back and make sure the essay editing does not change the essay's voice. It must be the student's essay. They will feel they did not get in on their own merit unless they are ultimately responsible for their essays' content.
What is your process for helping students narrow down the list of schools to which they will apply?
I focus on fit. The more information a student can get about fit, the better. I suggest students visit schools, speak to alums, and contact the admission office about any and every opportunity that will give the student the best sense of the school.
In your opinion, what are some of the best ways that students can make themselves stand out beyond their applications?
Admission officers take demonstrated interest seriously. A student must interact with the college he or she plans to attend. If they cannot get to the campus, they have to make sure the admission office knows how the student feels about the college.
Finish this sentence: On my first day at work as a counselor, I wish I had known . . .
. . . all that I know now.
What would you consider your biggest accomplishment or your proudest moment as a college counselor?
My biggest accomplishment happens every year as I watch my students get into their top-choice schools.
Favorite books: The Picture of Dorian Gray and The Happiness Advantage
Favorite musician or band: Dave Matthews Band
Favorite hero of fiction: G.I. Jane
Favorite movie: La Femme Nikita
Favorite quote: " . . . I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul."
Favorite place you've traveled to: Lugano, Switzerland
One super power you wish you had: The power to make everyone happy
Favorite college memory: Laughing with friends
Five people you would invite to a dinner party: Oprah, Steve Jobs, Mark Twain, Nelson Mandela, and my mom
Your personal motto: Be organized and get it done right in the first place.