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Oh, the Places You’ll Go

Counselor explains significance of college visits

Lauren Prehn, Editor-In-Chief

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With even a quick glance into the office of counselor Tara Lebar, a taupe colored cabinet cluttered with college magnets catches the eye.

“I started this collection throughout the years [so] everytime I go on a campus visit, I try to buy a magnet,” Lebar said. “This way I can get those schools in front of my students’ eyes, but also, it’s a way to show where I’ve ended up visiting and encourage students to do the same.”

As one-third of their job description, counselors spend a considerable amount of time setting up college readiness curriculum through advisory, writing counselor recommendations, meeting with students to talk about college and more. Among these many jobs, counselor Tara Lebar also finds time to visit a few college campuses each year.

“I try to go and visit two to three colleges each school year,” Lebar said. “I think the best way to get the feel for a college and to learn about a college is by being on campus.”

Lebar most recently visited the University of Utah and Westminster College prior to attending a national convention for counselors. The colleges Lebar visits often sponsor her campus tours as the counseling staff does not have a budget designated for campus visits. One aspect Lebar feels makes each school she visits special is their unique atmospheres.

“When I get on campus, there’s always something so cool happening on every college campus,” Lebar said. “It may or may not fit you, but it fits somebody, and that’s what is so exciting about it.”

Through these visits, Lebar hopes to become more knowledgeable on what different types of campuses have to offer. Lebar encourages students to visit college campuses early on in their high school careers. 

“The biggest tip I have for anybody is go visit campuses,” Lebar said. “It’s the best way to get your head in the game, it’s the best way for you to understand how the process works [and] it’s the best way for you to feel comfortable about the process.”

Lebar has found that students who have done minimal college research or who have not visited any campuses before senior year tend to apply to more colleges. Narrowing college selections throughout the earlier years of high school ultimately leads to a shorter, more confident list and avoids excessive amounts of college applications and fees.

Always striving to make the college application process easier and more comprehensible for students, the counselors work hard to create college and career planning curriculum for each grade level. In an effort  to take advantage of weekly advisory lessons, counselors enlist the help of teachers to give a wide variety of college and career centered lessons. While talks of the future often seem centered around a 4 year college path, the counselors are dedicated to informing student of other, less traditional options.

“I’ve been working with Mrs. Garcia and Mrs. Dark on the advisory curriculum and a lot of the individual plan of study and career and college learning is happening through the advisory curriculum,” Lebar said. “Sometimes I think we think it’s four year school or it’s bad. We’re trying to take the judgement and labels off and just talking about different pathways.”

Counselors also plan on utilizing the “BVW Counseling” page on Canvas this year. An array of college centered videos posted under “Modules” serve as a useful reminder for students with college questions. 

No matter a student’s final destination, the college assistance counselors provide them with leaves a lasting impact.

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