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Understanding the Student Beyond the Numbers


We often start with the basics in college admissions: GPAs, test scores, and extracurricular activities. However, when I meet a student for the first time, my goal is to bypass these numbers and reach the essence of who they are. Embracing students beyond mere data allows me to connect with their hearts and purpose and provides them the space to find and use their voices.

The Power of Simple Questions in College Counseling

1. Why Do You Want to Go to College?

This fundamental question often yields a predictable “yes” from students, especially those already working with Independent Educational Consultants (IECs). Yet, I challenge them to delve deeper and articulate their reasons. Understanding ‘why’ they want to pursue higher education is crucial, as it helps students solidify their goals and motivations. This question plants a seed that blossoms throughout our time together, helping them build a strong foundation for their future. Often times, I will have students watch this video by Brene Brown to encourage vulnerability! 

2. What Brings You Joy?

Cutting through the usual stress of college applications, this question taps directly into what genuinely excites and motivates students. Whether it’s their pets, comic books, or video games, discovering what they love provides insight into their personality and potential career paths. Their joy becomes a powerful indicator of their ability to succeed and thrive in college and beyond. The Book of Joy is one of my favorites! 

3. What Would Your Sky Banner Message Say?

Inspired by a session with Brennan Barnard at the RMCAC conference, this imaginative question asks students to consider a message they would display across the sky. It’s a playful yet profound way to encourage students to express their aspirations, fears, or even a humorous thought. This helps them articulate their identity and future dreams, offering a unique perspective on their sense of self.

The Impact of Deeper Insights

Asking these simple but profound questions forms the cornerstone of my relationships with students. You never know—the student who adores video games could be the next tech innovator, and the one obsessed with comic books might be a future celebrated graphic novelist. By looking beyond the surface, I help students explore and express their unique potential, preparing them to make significant contributions to their future college communities and beyond.


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