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Posted November 15, 2006 by

Why Distance Counseling Works

Isn’t it true that when admission officers evaluate student applications they really don’t know the student? Other than the interview that some colleges offer, acceptance decisions are based on a written document, the application. For students to portray themselves in the best light, their GPA’s, test scores, essays and recommendations must paint the best possible picture. In addition to local students, I am currently working with students and families in 16 states and 5 countries internationally. This number is increasing nearly daily. I counsel online, on the phone and via fax. If I can get a clear picture of a student based on all their data without the face to face meetings, then it is likely that admissions officers will also. The fact is that distance counseling is a test for the real thing.
I do see many students face to face when possible and always enjoy knowing them personally. However, the demand for guidance is so widespread that to accommodate more students, distance counseling is necessary. The forerunner, online learning, indicates how fast online education is growing and how successful it is. The Sloan Consortium, a group of colleges pursuing online programs, estimates that 850,000 more students took online courses in the fall of 2005 than the year before, an increase of nearly 40 percent. Students, too, are extremely comfortable with the distance format. Between their personal web pages, text and emails, online communication is a comfort zone .Many young people are more comfortable communicating online.
Many university applications are going paperless within the next few years. Numerous professors post assignments, readings and syllabus online. High schools are using programs where students receive online report cards. Electronic communication is the M generation’s way. Online college applications, passwords, pin numbers, secret questions to login are all very standard. Many face to face counseling meetings are conducted in front of a computer.
It is likely that college applications will become even more unique in the coming years. I easily guide all my distance students to present applications that are unique and perhaps explore creative possibilities in photo uploads, displaying computer graphic skills, musical backgrounds and links to personal pages. All this reveals much about the student.
So many of my high school and transfer students have such busy schedules, that they prefer connecting with me online rather than face to face. Between homework, jobs, athletic activities and other extracurriculars, they like communicating at the end of the day with their questions and input online.
By the time my students submit their applications, I have a strong feeling for who they are having worked with them to extract their strengths. In saying all this and if you have read this far, I have a note for parents. I hear things like, “I want my child to know their counselor”. Of course, there is nothing wrong with that. I urge you to keep in mind, to realize and accept that this is a new high tech generation that is more than comfortable with distance counseling.
Jeannie Borin, M.Ed.
IECA Professional Member
NACAC Professional Member