Counselors and College

With the approach of application deadlines, thousands of dollars are spent on indexing students and their futures into a template. Some start the college process as soon as they enter high school, hiring a private college counselor to increase their chances of gaining admission into top universities. Despite the generally outrageous pricing of private counselors—when navigating through the college process can cost nothing at all—expertise may actually help provide structure and guidance in the labyrinth of college essays and personal statements. Firm structure and instruction, however, isn’t sold in college and beyond. Reliance on excess resources, beyond high school counselors and peer editing, may be detrimental in the long run.

The focal point of the education system is the development of long-term skills and the enhancement of distinct abilities. Structure and typical application hooks, like the perfect SAT score or mythical rules-of-thumb for college essays (which come with price tags), should be subordinate to this prevalent aim in high school. When a counselor or tutor is paid to strategize and package a route through the college application, the qualitative measures become jeopardized.  Students have less incentive and need to think independently, which stifles their confidence and self-assurance. The ability to self-motivate and be accountable, without a hovering tiger parent, is more valuable than a forward contract into Princeton or Harvard.

The help of guidance counselors and peers serves as a healthy medium between guidance and independent thinking.  Although they may not be as extensive as paid planners at the time, it is actually a more beneficial and less costly alternative.  Despite the lack of therapeutic complacency, tackling the college application without constant hovering—by either a four-year or last-minute counselor—allows a greater freedom to showcase personalities and years of self-discovery, which is what colleges seek in students anyway. If expressing yourself, by yourself, is a problem then both the focal point of studenthood and the main criteria for college is missing.

The intellectual and emotional capacity to succeed in college is obstructed when the growth of patience, discovery of internal resources, strengths and limitations are hindered. Once enrolled, conditioned students may potentially need continuous tutoring as a result of an overwhelming college rigor. The constant paranoia of failure, and the lack thereof due to continuous education supplements, leads to a depletion of sufficient character development.  One misstep may become many times amplified without the resiliency of confidence, self-awareness and the knowledge of failure benefits.

By Lisa Shen, Opinion editor