College Counseling

From the Executive Director of College Counseling: Many eyes, many voices – the REimagining

Twenty years ago this spring, I was engaged in a “reimagining” initiative at Cornell University that is similar to what we are currently doing at Ransom Everglades. Dubbed the rebuilding initiative, this revitalization of our undergraduate admission office was driven by goals that called for greater efficiency in our work, targeted recruitment strategies, segmented communication plans, and enhanced use of technology. I remember the excitement, the hard work, and the awesome sense of responsibility I felt recreating the office at a storied institution.
At that time, I was influenced by strategies for organizational development put forward by the Harvard Business Review. Of utmost importance was the value of staffing an operation with incredibly bright people with a variety of talents and expertise. My mentor at the time reinforced this notion with an important piece of advice, “The more eyes and voices around the table, the more ideas and, ultimately, better decisions you are making.”

As we begin to settle into our work here in the College Counseling Office with an expanded staff, I am once again engaged in organizational development – discovering and exploiting the individual expertise of each member of our team to create a world-class college counseling program that will benefit RE students. As you know, we have checked the first box: Our new colleagues bring extraordinary talent and deep knowledge of the admission process to Ransom Everglades. With each of our highly accomplished college counselors working with small caseloads, every student and family will receive significant, personalized attention. Yet the benefit of all of this talent goes beyond the one-on-one time with individual students and their parents. We will be collaborating in ways that will significantly elevate the work we are doing for all of our families.
As I have shared with many of you over the past several months, more than 15 percent of my last organization worked remotely even before the pandemic. Offering remote work was a way of maintaining expertise when a spouse or partner made a career move that would deprive us of talent. We learned very quickly that collaboration can successfully occur across thousands of miles as long as we are intentional about connecting. We will be holding regular meetings for all of our counselors, and smaller group meetings to work together on program planning and projects.

By far, one of the most useful aspects of having so much talent together is the opportunity for the college counseling corps to collaborate, virtually and in person, on individual college counseling cases to ensure that the best of our collective thinking benefits every student. In fact, a “three sets of eyes” approach will be the hallmark of our college counseling program. Each summer, I will be meeting with each college counselor and Director of College Counseling Patrick Tassoni to review the individualized college counseling strategy for each of our rising seniors. This will not only allow us to review strategies for every senior, but also to standardize the process and share best practices across all college counseling caseloads. This is the sort of approach colleges and universities use to ensure they are admitting stellar classes of students, and we are pleased to offer this at RE.

There are some additional benefits to having more hands on deck: we are able to offer more resources, more meetings and better programming. Next month, we will showcase our team’s joint work at our first “Inside the Admissions Committee” program for rising seniors and parents. With so many former admissions officers now working for RE, we will be able to offer an insider’s perspective – and a quite extraordinary one – on the college admission process. Our hope is to help clarify and demystify what can be a confusing and frustrating part of the senior year.

These are early days, and we know that more innovation is ahead as we integrate staff talents and expertise. As Interim Head of School Rachel Rodriguez stated in the January 21 announcement about the REimagining, “the best is yet to come” for RE students. Indeed, we can’t wait for RE students and parents to experience the power of teams with talent. 

Jason C. Locke
Executive Director of College Counseling
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Founded in 1903, Ransom Everglades School is a coeducational, college preparatory day school for grades 6 - 12 located on two campuses in Coconut Grove, Florida. Ransom Everglades School produces graduates who "believe that they are in the world not so much for what they can get out of it as for what they can put into it." The school provides rigorous college preparation that promotes the student's sense of identity, community, personal integrity and values for a productive and satisfying life, and prepares the student to lead and to contribute to society.