Every Thursday this summer, we are introducing students and families to a different member of the College Coach admissions team. Drop in to see what we’re reading, where we went to school, and our strategies for beginning the college essay. As you work with us to find an educational consultant who best fits your needs or the needs of your child, we will help you consider the personality and working styles that will bring out the best in you or your student. Today we introduce Becky Leichtling, who works with students both in our Palo Alto office and remotely.
Where are you from?
Becky: Milwaukee, WI. A Great City on a Great Lake!
Where did you go to school?
Becky: Carleton College and Stanford Graduate School of Education.
What did you study?
Becky: American Studies and Educational Studies in undergrad, then Policy, Organization & Leadership Studies in grad school.
Where did you work?
Becky: As a student in the admissions office at Carleton, then at Tufts University in Massachusetts.
What are you reading right now for fun?
Becky: Just finished A Creature of Moonlight by Rebecca Hahn, a recent Carleton grad. Now reading The Bondwoman’s Narrative, possibly the first novel ever written by an African-American woman.
You have a free weekend and carte blanche to go anywhere and do anything. What do you do?
Becky: Hang out outside the entire time. Hike, go for a bike ride or to the beach, play ultimate, or just take a picnic to the park.
What was your favorite thing about college?
Becky: Building relationships with people – students and faculty – who challenged me to be a better person. Also hanging out on the Bald Spot on sunny afternoons.
What about your college experience was different from what you expected?
Becky: I didn’t major in what I planned to major in, nor did I continue any of the activities I was so dedicated to in high school. I started college with a totally different sense of my strengths and interests than I left with, and I’m grateful I went to a school that encouraged me to challenge my comfort zone in that way.
What’s your philosophy on college admission?
Becky: There’s no perfect fit and no single approach to success. Each student’s priorities, goals, and realistic strengths dictate how we approach our time together – specifically, what happens and when.
What aspect of the college admissions process do you most enjoy working on?
Becky: Essays! Love them. This is when an application stops being a collection of data and becomes a representation of an actual person. I loved reading them when I was an admissions officer, and I love helping students write them now.
What is the most common mistake you see from students that can easily be fixed?
Becky: The decisions you make in the fall about your college list dictate the options you will have in the spring. A list that is too top- or bottom-heavy often leads to frustrations and disappointments in April that could have been avoided with a bit more balance in December.
How do you encourage students to look beyond the schools they know to find hidden gems?
Becky: I challenge students to identify the core attributes of a particular college that stand out to them. Once we move beyond ranking or name recognition to the actual college experience, it’s easier to suggest great alternatives that provide a similar approach to learning and community.
What in your mind makes a good college essay?
Becky: I love essays that sound like a real person is talking right to me about something he or she is proud of. Plain speak, personal, and specific. I don’t care whether the topic is an eye-opening experience or a love of cheese, as long as I can connect with what matters to the writer.
What are some important things you’ve learned during your time as a College Coach educator?
Becky: Jesuit schools are awesome. There weren’t any on my radar when I was in high school but wow, they do a great job of establishing a welcoming and challenging campus community! I’ve also learned that most kids think they’re pretty normal, even the ones I’m incredibly impressed by. I hope you guys all can take advantage of this application process to recognize what’s really cool about yourselves.
What would you say to your high school self if you could coach him/her through the process?
Becky: 1) You have no idea what you’re talking about. 2) Consider schools in the 45 states you’re completely forgetting about. 3) Go to Carleton.