Magazine of CA

Dream Team

August 16, 2019

CA’s college counselors are in the business of dreams—helping students pursue theirs by guiding them on a process of self-discovery that, hopefully, ends with the best college fit.

Ask any of our three college counselors—Brandon Carter, Leya Jones, and Laura Sellers—and they will tell you the same thing: that they have the best jobs at Cary Academy.

“The fact that I get to be a part of a student’s journey in developing into their best selves is a pure blessing,” offers Carter. “I look forward to work every day—that’s not an exaggeration—because I get to work with some of the brightest, funniest, most caring, respectful, and appreciative students in the world.”
Strike up a conversation with nearly any of our alums and it will reveal equal admiration from the other side of the equation. Interviews offer warm recollections replete with gratitude for the pivotal role that the college counselors played in their college selection journey.

Said one alum in our recent biannual alumni engagement survey: “I would send my kids to CA for the incredible college counselors and the amount of guidance they provided me during the college process. It truly is unparalleled in comparison to what other students at other high schools receive.”
Other alums point to the counselors’ deeper impact—not just on their college processes, but on their broader lives—crediting the counselors for believing in them when they didn’t quite believe in themselves; for nudging them towards a better version of themselves; and for helping them to discover who they wanted to be in the world.

The depth of the relationships these anecdotes reflect isn’t all that surprising. At Cary Academy, the college counseling process is a true partnership between student and counselor. Working closely as a team, they explore interests and talents, consider current strengths, and identify future ambitions and goals—all in hopes of discovering that post-high school holy grail: the strongest collegiate fit.
“Research shows that the number one reason why a student chooses to remain at their respective college is a sense of belonging,” explains Carter. “If they feel they fit well within the academic and social fabric of that institution, the student is more likely to stay, thrive, and graduate. My goal is to find that institution that fits them best so that they can thrive on the next level and beyond, whatever that means to them.”

“As counselors, we’re lucky—luckier than most—in that our philosophy as an office is fully supported by CA’s leadership,” adds Jones. “We have colleagues at many other places who are driven by pressure to have a certain number of students admitted to/attending certain colleges. We don’t have that.”
On the contrary, as with all things CA, our college counseling process is mission-driven, grounded in a commitment to learning that is personal, flexible, and relevant, and driven by our community values of compassion, respect, and integrity. As in the classroom, students are in the driver’s seat—encouraged to “own their learning and process”—with the counselors offering sage counsel to steer them in the right direction.

Between them, Brandon Carter, Leya Jones, and Laura Sellers represent a whopping 29 years (!) worth of combined CA college counseling expertise, having successfully guided three classes (Carter), eight classes (Jones), and 18 classes (Sellers) to bright futures at their right-fit colleges and universities.

It’s a process that lends itself to introspection, often becoming a transformative learning experience for the student. “Seeing those ‘a-ha’ moments when a student sees something about themselves through the process, when they connect the threads and understand themselves better, that’s one of the things I love most about my work,” comments Sellers.

Indicative of all those “a-ha moments” and a point of pride for the team, a review of CA’s college matriculations reveals a lengthy and diverse list of educational institutions. Over the last three years, CA students have gone to nearly 100 different colleges and universities in the United States and abroad, where they thrive, grow, pursue their dreams, and, hopefully, get one step closer to becoming the people they want to be.

Written by Mandy Dailey, Director of Communications

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