What is the first step in the college search process?

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 28,691
    College counseling director Jerome Cole discusses the first step in the college search process.

    Jerome A. Cole, MA

    Jerome A. Cole, M.A., is the Director of College Counseling for the Edmund Burke school in Washington, D.C. and the founder of Cole Educational Consulting Services (Cole ECS.) He has worked with students and families for over seven years to help them plan and strategize for college. As a college counselor at Burke, an independent college preparatory high school founded in 1968, Mr. Cole oversees a program that is designed to support students and families as they go through the selection and admission process for college. Mr. Cole advises over 100 students each year in a small academically challenging environment where every senior is expected to apply to and enroll in college. Prior to Burke, he was a school counselor at Bethesda-Chevy Chase high school in Montgomery County, Maryland. He has successfully counseled hundreds of students and helped them prepare for admission to a variety of schools such as: American University, Clark-Atlanta University, Davidson College, George Washington University, Harvard University, Pitzer College, Stanford University, Temple University, and the University of Maryland at College Park, to highlight just a few. He established the consulting firm Cole ECS to provide students and families with the necessary information and support to make the best choice for college. Cole ECS defines the best choice as the optimal learning and social environment to ensure a student’s holistic success, culminating in on-time or early graduation and desirable post-graduate options. Mr. Cole earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Catholic University, and then went on to obtain a Master of Arts in Education and Human Development from George Washington University. He is certified as a school counselor and is a member of the National Association of College Admissions Counselors (NACAC).

    Host: What is the first step to getting started with college search process?

    Jerome Cole: I think the very first thing that the student and family should do, is to sit down and have a conversation and I think their conversation should be focused on the student. Not on the student and college but on the student, to talk about, who is this person sitting here in front of us? To talk about their likes, their dislikes, To talk about the community where youliving in, things which you like and don t like about it, to think to talk about places that you have lived previously, to talk about past vacation, past experience, relationships, that favorite uncle, that favorite grandparent, what that relationship was like? Why that relationship was special to you? Things that you do well, things that have always been easy to you, as a child I remember, you were always a great reader and you still a lot to this day.

    I remember as a child, you were always a great, whatever it is. I think it s important to start there, because what you are trying to do is to get the student to look inward, to think about him or herself, who am I? What do I want? What things are important to me? That s where the process starts. It doesn t starts with, do you want to go through a large school versus a small school, it doesn t start with, do you want to go to school in the mid-west versus the south versus the east, it starts inward, looking inward, what do you want, who are you, what do you like, what s easy, okay? So, I think that if you start there, then the next step is to go and to start to visit colleges and I would recommend that you do that on a local area and on a local basis in other words, if you are based in Washington D.

    C. don t put the kid on a plane and fly to Chicago or Los Angeles.

    Stay it in D.


    , look at the local schools in D.


    , not for the sake of trying to identify a school that s right for you but just the idea of going and visiting those colleges campuses and getting familiar what this whole idea, this whole concept of leaving high school and going to college.

    A 17 year old thinks they know what colleges? But, they really don t and so that s why you want to start out by visiting schools. The third thing that you want to do is you want to sit down with a counselor. Go to your high school, schedule a meeting with that high school counselor and start to talk about yourself, what your needs are, what your wants are, what you are dream and hopes are? And then integrate college into the conversation.

    So, that s what I would say in terms of a first step, is to conversation with mom and dad and people around you, who know you and love you.