Inquiry-based College Counseling

Me with my professor-mentor, Dr. Roy Rotheim (Economics), Skidmore College graduation 1991

Me with my professor-mentor, Dr. Roy Rotheim (Economics), Skidmore College graduation 1991

i remember…

as a high school junior sitting with Bruce Bailey, a respected college counselor and cherished family friend from the Lakeside School in Seattle, talking about my dreams for the future. It was such a rare event to have an adult asking me questions about my vision for the future. Even with two parents who attended college, I felt lost. I only knew where friends attended college, or the glossy brochures that came through the mail. Everyone’s choices felt very random and uniformed.

I needed someone in my life who could start fresh with me; someone who could see me for who I was at that moment in my life. The focused attention on my future from someone who was not my mom or dad made an enormous impact on the life. I am forever grateful for this opportunity. I ended up attending a small, liberal arts college that opened my eyes to the world. I was ready for it.

Now, as a college professor, I see what a difference thoughtful college counseling makes. Students who followed a path that may have been right for their friends or expected by their family (but not the best fit for them) seem to be sleepwalking through the college experience, at best. This is a huge waste of time and money. It doesn’t have to be this way. The process of choosing a college and applying should not be the stressful, anxiety-producing experience it’s become either.

Every student should feel inspired, challenged, and confident about their next steps.

June-August: Exploring your past, present, and future self through spiral journaling, transcript reviews, interviews, and drafting the personal essay, anticipating and preparing for the SAT and ACT, identifying recommenders

September: Narrowing choices via Corsava, application phase, reaching out to current students

October: Assembling recommendations, completing a ‘brag sheet’ and requests for recommenders, identifying scholarships and financial aid opportunities (FAFSA)

November: Final edits to essays (multiples rounds of feedback)

December: Sending out early applications, setting up alumni interviews and school visits

January: Identifying the right strategies for you when taking exams (SAT, AP, IB, AP)

February-April: Conduct alumni interviews and school visits (role-playing interviews and practicing the fine art of networking)

May-June: Making the right decision (goals, interests, finances), announcing and thanking those who have helped along the way

Over the last year, I had the privilege of coaching my own daughter and her two friends through their college application process. We met monthly at a local café and engaged in reflective writing, active research, and some happy soul-searching. In between these meetings, I offered feedback, asked a lot questions, and helped them navigate decisions using the same inquiry-based methods I use in my classes and consulting work. We had a great time together and they just accepted offers to attend Wellesley College, Smith College, and the University of Washington; all with merit scholarships!

While all three of their high schools provided some kind of college counseling, there seemed to be a) a paucity of deep conversations about who they are as students and people, b) a lack of understanding about the many colleges (hidden gems) and non-college options (gap years, internships, fellowships) available to them, and c) a missed opportunity to strengthen some of the most important skills needed in college and beyond, like inquiry (the art of asking great questions of oneself and others), self-advocacy, time management, stress management, and self-love.

Inquiry-based College Counseling is about bringing students back to themselves, rather than trying to fit into someone else’s notion of who they are and what they are meant to do, learn, and explore in the world. My methods are based on over twenty five years of teaching experience and a genuine respect for young adults and belief in their potential.

I am excited to offer my first year-long Inquiry-based College Counseling to a small group of students (rising high school seniors) starting this June 15, 2019 and culminating in the final decision-making process before their high school graduation (June 2020). The cost for the year-long program is $4,000.

To enroll in the Inquiry-based College Counseling program, please contact me by email: or phone 206-434-8274 (PDT). 

I’m looking forward to meeting you!

Students receive unlimited email / text access and reminders, intensive writing support, monthly one-to-one sessions (virtually and/or in person), and the option to visit my classroom on the University of Washington campus throughout the school year.

Working with one of my students at the University of Washington

Working with one of my students at the University of Washington

As you set out for Ithaka
hope your road is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
— C.P. Cavafy "Ithaka"