College Counselors: Beyond the Blue Forms

Jacob Pharoah


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At the beginning of the year, The Forum wrote an article about the new teachers that would be joining us and promised that an article focusing on the two new college counselors would be following shortly. Well, depending on what your definition of shortly is, this is probably a tad overdue. But hey, better late than never, right? You may or may not know this, but this is the first time in Latin School history (all 125 years of it) that there have been three college counselors.

Mr. Brauch comes to us from China, where he was working with Chinese college counselors who wanted to teach native students how to apply to schools in America. As I’m sure you can imagine, working at Latin is a very different experience. When Mr. Brauch would advise a Chinese student he needed a translator, and even then things were often lost in translation. With a smile he told me that, “over here students are equally as driven, but there isn’t that translation gap.” For Mr. Brauch, this year is about using the experience he has and gaining new skills by helping students through the process. When I asked him for a fun fact, he quickly informed me that his passport had been so full that he “had to buy more pages.” My response was a gasp, which prompted him to tell me that he’s also lived in London (because it was his favorite city in the world before coming to Chicago) and Athens (he’s Greek and wanted to learn more about the language and embrace his roots). The man is well traveled, you have to give him that. Sticking to the topic of travel, I asked him if he has a dream vacation. He does. If he could go anywhere in the world, he would go back to Rome, which he visited during his college years, to satisfy his classicist inclinations. He told me that he “loves exploring history and connecting stories.” I went to Rome this past summer and, despite the sweltering heat, I could wholeheartedly relate to his obsession with the city. As we concluded our interview, Mr. Brauch praised Latin for its wonderful staff members, and the dedication that its students embody.

Upon finishing my meeting with Mr. Brauch, I hopped across the corridor to Ms. Taylor’s office. Ms. Taylor is joining us this year from Parker, and I was glad to hear that she already feels really welcomed into our school. She thinks that Latin has a sense of community and spirit that you would normally find in a bigger school and that there is a “collective feeling of being so grateful to be a part of this community.” I could immediately relate. In fact, it was one of the first things I noticed when I first arrived at Latin as a wee freshman. It’s undeniable that the new counselors have already bonded with the class of 2014, and when I asked Ms. Taylor what excites her most about this year she told me she’s excited to see the outcomes and going through the “celebratory joys of victory” as we ride the rollercoaster that is applying to college. She’s also excited to see the transformation that students often go through during this process, and believes she’s already seeing a lot of change in her students. She loves being part of the collective experience of applying to college and knowing that she’s helped her students out in some way. When asked for a fun fact, Ms. Taylor informed me that she’s been “studying classical ballet since the age of four” (how cool is that?). These kinds of “fun fact” questions escalated and before I knew it, I’d found out that Ms. Taylor’s favorite food is pizza (mine too) and that if she could have a superpower it would be to eat anything she wanted and never suffer any consequences.