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As a College and Career Counselor, I’m constantly meeting with students to discuss their post-secondary plans. This is one of my favorite parts of my job, but 45 minute meetings in an office setting with a list of items to check off does not encourage transparency. These meetings are helpful and necessary, but I’ve learned that coaching gives me more opportunities to make genuine connections with my students. Before and after practice, a team breakfast, or informal conversations at lunch are more natural ways to listen and understand someone. And knowing a few students very well helps me better understand all of our students.
I get a glimpse into the hectic life of a high school student because, on some level, I’m living it. I understand the need to prioritize my time and energy because for three months, practices and games give me limited time to spend with my family, let alone other work responsibilities. I’m then able to speak with students about time management, prioritizing, healthy eating, getting enough sleep because I’m working through those things as well. Now when I speak with students about researching colleges, studying for the SAT and ACT, and planning for their future, I can do so with empathy, understanding that creating time to do so will involve sacrifice.
Coaching basketball and being a part of a team means experiencing emotional highs and lows. The emotions are raw and revealing. I have the privilege of walking with students in these times and speaking truth into their lives throughout the process. Choosing a future career and navigating the college admissions process has its own set of highs and lows. And while I do not see first hand the same raw emotions of this process, I get a glimpse into their world when I’m with them as they submit their applications. Sometimes students are not even able to hit the “submit” button on their college applications. I can’t count the amount of times that students literally asked me to hit the submit button because they were so nervous. In these times, just like a stressful or emotional situation in basketball, I enjoy comforting, giving perspective, and reminding students of their worth no matter the outcome of the basketball game or an admissions decision.