You’ve met Ed (our Chief Technology Officer), you’ve met Matt (our Director of Business Development), and today I’m pleased to introduce you to Rachel Katzman, Admitster’s Director of Education! She studied at Harvard, Skidmore College, and the Universite de Paris X Nanterre. She has over a decade of experience teaching and advising students, and is a college admissions expert! All of this, you can glean from her bio page – just click here. Today, however, the blog floor is hers to introduce herself to you in her own words. Rachel writes…
What I Do At Admitster:
I came to Admitster after working in the classroom for the majority of my career. While I was initially nervous that Admitster’s “ed-tech” approach might be a limiting factor in my ability to get to know my students, I quickly realized that it was, in fact, quite the opposite. I’ve gotten to know students in a matter of mere hours by asking them the right questions to get them thinking deeply about what they want, and using projection tools to start having real, evidence-based conversations. I’m always amazed by what students learn about themselves in these first conversations. For instance, I’ve had students explain for the first time why they love the connection between math and science, what makes them a good tutor, or how hardships in their family’s past have shaped who they are today. Using Admitster’s projections of my students’ admissions chances at different schools, I’ve seen some discover that they have more than a fighting chance at some colleges that, at the outset, seemed like a distant dream. They’ve also found new target schools that they previously hadn’t even known existed!
There’s something about me being a “voice on the phone” that is, I think, in some ways freeing to students. I’m not their parent, teacher, or guidance counselor. I come in with no preconceived notions of who they are or can be. I have the liberty to be their champion, their manager, their advocate. I’m here just for them– to make sure they feel clear and confident in their college admissions goals, and that they’re taking the right steps to reach those goals. This is so important, because despite the range of schools my students come from, they all share the characteristic of having little to no access to a personal college adviser. Given how complex the college admissions process has become, it would be a lot of work for them to do on their own.
Perhaps the most important tool I use in working with students is creating their “Personalized Admissions Plan”, a shared document that clearly defines their goals, establishes a calendar to help manage all the details and deadlines, and presents a balanced college list reflecting their dreams. The document is both strategic and actionable!
Depending on how long we work together, some clients might feel empowered to use this plan and work independently (knowing that I’m here if they need some help along the way). Others want to work together more long term, having a helping hand and second set of eyes on each application, especially those to their top-choice schools. I also love having “google doc jam sessions”, where I work with a student in live-time to help him/her to edit an essay, or share a screen to help the student to maneuver through the weird formatting and confusing language in the online applications.
The best part, for both myself and of course for my students, is every time we click “Submit!” I know that students feel like they’ve done their best work. And even if the student isn’t, in the end, accepted at that specific school, all that hard work will pay off as we move on to the next application. By the way, even though it’s only November, several of my students have already received those awesome “acceptance” e-mails just weeks after sending out their applications. It’s only just begun!
Why I Love My Job
I love that I’ve gotten to work with such a diverse group of students! My clients vary by gender and ethnic identity, income, high school size, interests, family situation and, of course, by personality. Even though we start down the admissions process road as strangers, we form close relationships as we work together. Applying to college is such a transformative experience, and it’s been an honor to work with each student in their own personal journey. While I try not to live “too vicariously” through their successes, I find that I can’t help but want to tell the stories of how special each client is and what they are able to achieve in such a short amount of time.
Why Admitster Is A “Game Changer”
As a teacher, I always had the goal of knowing my students well. However, when it came to college admissions, I was often writing dozens of letters of recommendation or reading countless application essays all at once. This volume of work certainly limited how involved I could be in helping each individual student to manage the actual application process. Admitster offers a rare, precious service: true one-on-one personalized advising. It allows the teachers, guidance counselors, and parents to do what they need to do, while knowing that there is someone to give students the individualized help they may need, whether it be time management strategies, reviewing multiple drafts of writing, or targeting scholarship opportunities. This helps relieve stress for the students and all those in their lives. We all know how hard it can be to do our best work when anxiety sets in. Working with Admitster helps everyone to breathe a sigh a relief while moving forward in the admissions process!
Why I Love The College Admissions Process
I entered Skidmore College as an intended dance major but, due to an injury, never took a single dance class! Luckily, despite this setback, I found myself at a school that invited curiosity and allowed students to redefine themselves as their interests evolved. I studied art history and traveled throughout Europe, having experiences I had never imagined while in high school.
I hadn’t danced for fifteen years, yet ever since I started working at Admitster, I’ve been taking classes at a local ballet studio. Perhaps seeing students try to realize their dreams has rekindled some passions of my own. Each time I help a student apply to a “great fit” college, I imagine the amazing opportunities they will have to pursue their interests, all the while discovering new passions along the way. With much humility, I realize that I truly have no idea who they will “become” as they go through life. That unknown, however, is perhaps what excites me the most!