California-based educator and mentor, Empowerly counselor Stephanie W., shares her approach to student guidance and how it all works. From providing general advice for freshmen lost about their next steps to being an honest, engaged editor for seniors on college essays, Stephanie offers a range of abilities to her students. Not only that, her unique perspectives on the college experience as a firsthand applicant and family member navigating her child’s admissions make her exceptionally qualified to help others on this journey.
Read this and more in her own words below.
This interview is Installment 8 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!
Stephanie holds a B.A. from the University of California, Irvine, and is currently located in Orange County. Specializing in Stanford and other top California state schools, the athletic recruiting process, and transfer pathways, she has helped students gain admission to Stanford, USC, UCLA, UCSD, and UCSB, among other top universities across the United States.
How did you hear about Empowerly? How did you get started as a counselor in the first place?
“I discovered Empowerly during a Google search when I was doing some research. Then, I was intrigued by and drawn to the collaborative approach and wanted to be a part of it.
I started as an educator 26 years ago—as a classroom teacher, a writing coach, and then the owner of an after-school educational enrichment center. About ten years ago, students began to ask me if I would look over and give input on their college essays. Over time, they began to ask if I would look over their entire applications. I realized how much I enjoyed helping students with this process and began to do it more as the years went on,” Stephanie said. “So my story as a counselor is more of an evolution over time, as opposed to deciding one day that I would start doing this.”
What experiences do you draw upon as a counselor?
“My experiences working with a wide range of students as an educator and writing coach are a big part of what makes me a great counselor, as well as my genuine ability to really listen to students, connect with them, and let them lead the way while supporting them with my knowledge, support, and encouragement.
My own experiences with the UC [University of California] and CSU [California State University] system as a student, and my experiences as a Stanford parent, are also valuable. I’ve worked with transfer students (particularly in California) and recruited athletes,” she said. “And I was also an editor before becoming an educator, so that really helps with the essay support.”
How would you describe your approach to counseling?
“Productive but not overwhelming, understanding, open-minded, and non-judgmental. The last thing I want to do is add more stress to a high schooler’s or college student’s life, but we get things DONE. I’m easy to talk to so students feel comfortable asking me any questions they have and exploring all angles to the process and all possible pathways.”
She continued, “I make sure my students know that I am in their corner, cheering them on. No formula here—each student is different, and each journey and process is different.“
What is something you’ve learned from your students?
“The main thing I’ve learned from my students is that they want to work as a team (not be talked down to or patronized) and we get the most done and find the most success when we do exactly that,” she said, “work as a team.”
One piece of advice you would tell students now?
“A college rejection letter isn’t the end of the world. Be gentle with yourself. Things usually work out the way they’re supposed to, one way or another.”
What is a piece of life advice that has stuck with you?
“Work hard and be nice to people.”
At the interview’s close, Stephanie said, “I genuinely love helping young people find their way. That’s why I do this.” In a sentence, it captures Stephanie’s earnest desire to help students succeed and drives her to be a better and better counselor.
If you’d also like to work with a stellar mentor with a knack for helping students pursue their dreams, reach out. The phenomenal counselor community at Empowerly understands the importance of each unique student’s journey. All you have to do is ask.