We’re bringing back our popular series, Meet an Admissions Counselor, where we introduce 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 Sara Calvert-Kubrom.
Where are you from?
I am originally from the Oregon coast but have spent most of my life living in Portland, Oregon.
Where did you go to school?
I attended Lewis & Clark College for undergrad and the Boston College Graduate School of Social Work for graduate school.
What did you study?
At Lewis & Clark I had a double major in Hispanic Studies with an emphasis on language, literature, and studying abroad in Chile and Sociology/Anthropology. My graduate degree is a Master of Social Work with an emphasis on management and leadership.
Where did you work?
Prior to joining College Coach I was an admissions officer at Lewis & Clark College but I have also worked for the Women’s and Gender Studies Program at Boston College and a freshman study abroad program at Northeastern University; higher education is my passion! Prior to my higher education career, I worked in a variety of public health and nonprofit organizations and was a yoga instructor.
What are you reading right now for fun?
I love to read so really wish I could say I am reading for fun right now, but the juggling act of being a parent of a toddler, career, and life means that I haven’t read any novels in a while! Most of the time I’m reading parenting articles and on the hunt for new cooking recipes.
You have a free weekend and carte blanche to go anywhere and do anything. What do you do?
If I had the technology to instantly transport my family like they did in Star Trek, I would have us go explore the Eritrean capital of Asmara where my in-laws are from. More realistically, I would go to the Oregon Coast with my family to hike, play on the beach, and eat some great local seafood.
What was your favorite thing about college?
Studying abroad in Chile and making friends from all over the country and world were amazing opportunities to broaden my world-view and perspectives that have impacted my subsequent personal life and career in profound ways. I also loved working as a Resident Advisor in the residence halls.
What about your college experience was different from what you expected?
I started college planning to major in International Affairs but fell in love with Sociology and Anthropology and have absolutely no regrets. I quickly learned that one of the joys and privileges of a college education are the expansive opportunities for professional, academic, and personal growth. As a stubbornly independent person, I also never imagined that I would meet my husband in college, but I did!
What’s your philosophy on college admission?
I believe deeply that there is a college out there for everyone and that it is a matter of finding the right fit. If students and parents are open to exploring a diversity of options and ask lots of questions, they will find an excellent option and can have some fun along the way. It can feel daunting to apply to college, but I see this as a tremendously exciting time for students to follow their passions, develop their autonomy, and use college as an opportunity to safely push their comfort zones and try new things.
What aspect of the college admissions process do you most enjoy working on?
Empowering students to take the lead in their application and college selection process.
What is the most common mistake you see from students that can easily be fixed?
Many students I’ve worked with have felt great pressure to do what family/friends/society expects of them rather than finding the time and space to truly reflect on their interests, strengths, and passions. Fortunately, college helps facilitate this self-reflection and growth, but the college application and selection process is a great opportunity to start this process rather than only applying to colleges or pursuing majors that they think they should be interested in.
How do you encourage students to look beyond the schools they know to find hidden gems?
Online research and talking to friends and families is a great start. Although campus visits are ideal, if that is not possible, it can be great to reach out to college admission offices to see if a current student is available to email or speak with them about the campus culture; many colleges and universities have current student leaders or ambassadors who are happy to do this.
What in your mind makes a good college essay?
A great college essay tells the admissions committee something about the student that won’t necessarily be found elsewhere in the application. As the transcript, letters of recommendation, and activities lists already provide a great deal of insight, I love it when an essay helps the student and their experiences, passions, or personality pop out of the computer screen for the reader. The essay does not have to be overly complex, but should be something the student is excited about or finds to be an authentic representation of their life experiences so that the admission officer feels like they are meeting the holistic person, not just the academic statistics.
What would you say to your high school self if you could coach him/her through the process?
Trust your instinct and go to the college that feels like the right fit. Sometimes that is not a statistic or concrete fact about the institution, but an “aha moment” when you realize that a college or university your place; a place you are ready to call home.
To learn more about Sara, visit her bio.