Article By: Molly Murphey
Our new College and Career Counselor, Tracy Batchelder, knew that she wanted to work at Santa Rosa High School after earning her Masters in school counseling from Sonoma State University last May. That’s right, it’s her first year, but you wouldn’t know it based on her wealth of knowledge.
College and Career counseling is Ms. Batchelder’s second career. She got her Masters in environmental management from Duke University and has worked in Costa Rica and Mexico, where two of her children started school. Her daughter graduated from SRHS in 2016.
She says that finishing her degree using distance learning and going through the application process with her children has given her a lot of insight.
Batchelder remembers “going to the library and looking through the huge college catalogs” when she was in high school. She is glad that college applications today are “a lot easier and more streamlined,” and students can apply to more schools than she was able to.
Speaking to me over the phone, Batchelder rattled off a list of online college search sites: The College Essay Guy, Big Future, Cappex, and Corsava, which is unique because it can send her a copy of the student’s results.
From there, students can set up a one-on-one Zoom meeting with her to “consider what they really want to get out of their college experience” and develop a plan to pay for it.
Batchelder encourages students to attend virtual college visits “if they don’t have any idea where they want to go and want to get a flavor for different colleges,” but also “if they are committed to a college and have specific questions.”
She also told me that some colleges track engagement and attending a virtual visit can give you a leg up in the admissions process.
Her main advice for students: don’t stress. “Admissions counselors understand and they’re looking at the four years [of high school], not just COVID,” she said.
Batchelder suggests thinking outside of the box this year. Taking care of family, helping a sibling with homework, grocery shopping for someone vulnerable or getting a job are all considered extracurriculars.
Past Wave Learning courses include “Introduction to Music Production with Garageband,” “A Culturally Competent Guide to Mental Health,” and “Looking Cool for College: Tackling Admissions Essays.” Registration for the next wave of seminars will close in early November.
If college isn’t part of your plan, Ms. Batchelder has information about military enlistment and volunteer or gap year programs. She recommends looking into certificates from the SRJC, which are designed with local businesses to provide reliable employment. They have recently expanded their brewing program.
Batchelder’s personal motto is “keep the door open.” With so many post-graduation options, she still urges students to apply “if [they] are even considering attending college in fall of 2021,” adding that there is time to make a final decision later.
You can reach Ms. Batchelder from 8 am to 4 pm on Monday through Friday during free periods or after class through her email, firstname.lastname@example.org, phone (707-890-3850 extension 52123), or Zoom.
Links to college search sites, virtual college visits, and much more can be found in your CCC Google Classroom.