We sat down with Empowerly counselor Kate as she shares her perspective on college counseling, as well as her favorite parts of working with students. Born and raised in Dallas, Texas, Kate earned multiple degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). In addition to working at a management consulting firm, Kate has worked in admissions for a number of years, starting at her alma mater.
Kate’s empathetic spirit and passion for helping students gain acceptance into their top choice schools truly shine through in the work she does. We can’t wait to learn a little more about how Kate views the college experience and what advice she has for upcoming students.
Let’s get started.
This interview is one installment in our Coffee with a Counselor series. To read more profiles like this, check out other posts right here on our blog and subscribe to our newsletter!
As an undergraduate student, Kate majored in Material Engineering & Economics and Comparative Media Studies. Her masters’ degree focused on Technology and Policy within the Engineering Systems Department.
Outside of Empowerly, she is a full-time Principal Consultant for a large management consulting firm. Her professional experience and achievements all make Kate a stellar counselor for high school students interested in very competitive institutions!
A journey begins…
“I really like working with students,” Kate said. “That’s always been a passion of mine. One of the ways I funded myself through graduate school at MIT was working in their admissions office, so I did that for around two years. And then when I graduated I realized I still really liked working with students,” she continued, “so I always found time outside of my day job to help students with their college apps.”
In fact, one of the aspects that sets Kate apart is her firsthand perspective helping so many students succeed. “I’ve been in college admissions counseling for a little over ten years now, and I love it so much. I’ve worked with students from all different geographies, both from a counseling point of view and also working in the admissions office so that I think is really helpful.” We couldn’t agree more!
Weaving everything together
We asked Kate how she would describe her approach to counseling students. After a moment of thought, she explained, “My approach is that the students really have done most of the hard work upfront—getting good grades, getting the internship, extracurriculars. My job is to help them tell their story in the form of an application. The more activities they do, the better story I can help them tell. That’s how I view the process.”
“I really believe the student has done most of the hard work, and it’s just my job to weave everything together and create a coherent story that colleges will appreciate.”
“One of the success stories that I have is a student who didn’t really know where she wanted to go to college, but she had really great grades and extracurriculars. I had so much fun working with her.”
What a great story. Keeping an open mind during the process can unlock great options for your future you may never have considered!
Getting to the gold
Kate described how one thing she’s learned from her students is, “To ask a lot of questions. Sometimes when students are living their day-to-day life, they don’t realize their accomplishments or strengths. So I have to ask a lot of probing questions to help them identify what would be good in an essay, or what would be considered an award or accomplishment.” At Empowerly, we see this to be true again and again; an outside perspective on your achievements can be invaluable!
Not to mention, “Often these students are in really competitive environments, in regards to grades and tests and such. But a lot of the really important things they do on a day-to-day basis aren’t in their focus. Questions help to get that to bubble to the surface,” Kate said. Making the connection between student and counselor is key—and an area in which Kate excels.
One piece of advice for high school students?
When you’re going through your college application process, “let people get to know who you are as a person. The college application process can feel like just a resume or a list of accomplishments. But what schools really want to know is if you would be a good fit for them, and really see how you could contribute during your four years there,” Kate said.
“The advice I received is to present myself as a person, with real feelings and thoughts, beyond just a list of accomplishments, GPA, or test scores.”
Great! How can students begin to do that? “One way to really do that is to spend a lot of time on the essays, making sure that your voice and your passion come through. And also, actually prepping for the alumni interviews! Those are the two places where you can really control your voice and your story, and let the admissions committee see who you are as a real person beyond your list of accomplishments.”
Any life advice that you take with you?
“My advice is to try,” Kate said. (And that’s true for extracurricular activities, leadership positions, internships, colleges, and even jobs!) “You have to try. And if you don’t try, you don’t get in! So my philosophy is to always try your best; you might surprise yourself.”
Expanding on this, Kate recommends that students should try to “Give yourself the benefit of the doubt. I’ve seen a lot of students second-guess themselves and really not stretch themselves, because they don’t think there’s a one-hundred-percent chance that they’ll get a particular internship or get into a particular college. There’s really no guarantee in life, except that if you don’t try, you don’t get in.”
Our talented counselor community at Empowerly understands the importance of each unique student’s journey. All you have to do is ask. Book a free consultation below to receive a customized recommendation for your college application plan.