Saturday, October 12, 2013

Counselors and the Common App


Counselors:

 We are the models.  We are in control.  If we cannot keep it together,
 how can we expect our students and parents to?  Remember, when they see
 us freaked out, their level of anxiety goes through the ceiling.  They
 are already like a driver already stuck in 2 hours of NY (LA?) traffic,
 ready to snap at any moment.  Or like an animal stuck in a trap.  Or a
 pre-teen on his/her first date...Or, never mind, you get the point.  They
 are not themselves.  They are nervous, scared, edgy, at times, mean,
 reactive, panicked, and, sometimes, out of their minds.

 I am particularly struck by the tone of this CA discussion.  Yeah, we
 knew they were rolling out something new and improved, but whenever you
 roll out a new tech, all the beta testing in the world will not pick up
 all the glitches (can we say "Ios 7" or "health care exchanges").

 We need to keep our heads about us!  We cannot, CAN NOT, let their panic
 become our panic.  I know this is particularly true of independents.
 When we are operating as independents, we sometimes over-promise and have
 a much more select group of over-anxious customers who want answers and
 solutions yesterday.  We all want satisfied customers, clients, students,
 parents, but coming with all guns firing or using disparaging comments to
 those who are trying to help us (like CA tech support) will not get
 solutions any better or faster.  We are all in this together and we need
 to begin to act that way!   Isn't that the point of this organization?

 I have to say, Rob and the technical staff have been wonderful.  They
 have been highly responsive to this list, on their web site, on their
 Facebook Page and to individual inquiries.  I have had a number of
 students with issues and they have been responded to and resolved in a
 short amount of time.  I can't imagine how many inquiries they have been
 dealing with, but they have treated every one with urgency.  I can't
 imagine what that office has had to go through to keep everything on
 track.  I feel like sending them an 18-year-old bottle of scotch with a
 six foot high thank you card!

 So when your parents and students come in angry, panicked, confused and
 snappish, threatening to call the Superintendent if you do not resolve
 this immediately and using language that should never be used outside of
 a bar, keep your wits about you.  Especially you new to the profession, I
 know this is particularly tough.  Some of you have never seen previously
 delightful parents come at you with the fervor of a rabid wolf.  Just
 remember, when you let their lack of control or distress cause you to
 move off your mark, you are abandoning them.  They depend on your
 assurance, your calm, your confidence and your professionalism.  I know
 it can feel like talking someone off a window ledge, but every moment is
 THE moment to these students and parents, the one instant when all their
 hopes and dreams for the last 18 years comes crashing down because the
 paragraph breaks did not work out perfectly.  You need to assure them
 that everything will be okay, that many, many people are experiencing the
 same problem, and that it will be resolved in a timely fashion.  Be
 strong, be confident and be the rock they need.  You can do it!

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