Saturday 20th January 2018,


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Parting Thoughts from a 12-year College Admissions Counselor

posted by Randall
Patrick Lorenzo

Patrick Lorenzo

By Patrick Lorenzo
#Thick Envelope


Nearly thirteen years in the making.  Both public and private institutions.  Three revered places of higher learning.  University of California.  Comprehensive University.  Liberal Arts and Sciences College.  Started in student life; mentored marginalized populations; tutored TRIO students; transitioned summer bridge students; advised various student organizations; acclimated commuter/transfer students; counseled paraprofessionals; helped with moved in; worked orientation; organized welcome week activities.  Moved on to admissions; directed student ambassadors; orchestrated multiple events; developed programs; created visit experiences; managed a visitor center; visited countless high schools; read thousands of applications; inspired to admit students; struggled to deny students; spoke with hundreds of families; presented all over the Bay Area; labored nights/weekends; mentored staff members; changed lives.


I am officially a week away of saying good bye to my position of admissions counselor.  Recently, I gave my last admissions presentation in the office.  Reflecting on that reality I spent some time pondering how I to distill my last words of wisdom to families navigating the college application process.  I arrived at the conclusion to develop a “Last Admissions Presentation” a la, The Last Lecture, a book by Jeffrey Zaslow and Randy Pausch sans a live recording.  Considering my experience working in higher education and the nuggets of knowledge acquired in admissions I figured I have some parting thoughts about the college search process worthy of sharing on my final presentation.


Since I am a proponent of the rule of three I structured my presentation outline accordingly.  Three broad concepts with three supporting ideas.  Inspired by a “choose your adventure” theme, I conceptualized a journey like approach.  Below, I offer my “Last Presentation”:
Chart your course: Before you embark, map out your adventure.
Three things to define your college search process:

1) Location: Platform and context for your experience.  It’s the stage and setting for your adventure.  Find a place to thrive.

2) Values: Mission matters.  Search from the inside out.  Get below the shallow surface.

3) Learning edge:  Seek opportunities for growth.  Find a seamless classroom and community learning lab.  Cultivate all kinds of knowledge.
Enjoy the voyage: Be present.

Three ways to be engaged in your college search:

1) Recognize, it’s not a perfect process.  Make the most of it.  Ignore the clutter; communicate early and often.
2) Set parameters.  Determine what is negotiable and non-negotiable.  Always frame your conversations.  Manage expectations.

3) Embrace the moments.  Create memories. Take lots of pictures.  Consume the local culinary treats.

It’s a layover, not the final destination:  A snapshot of your journey.

Three points to frame how college might fit in the big picture we call life:

1) A long pit stop on life’s journey.  Be relieved, not disappointed.  It is still a time to grow, discover, and transform.

2) Your degree won’t define you.  It is not a trophy, it is a privilege.  The learning doesn’t end here.

3) The experience is your legacy.  Make it worthwhile.  There are 3,000+ examples.
This is not the end.  Though I am concluding my nine year plus run as an admissions counselor, I remain in the industry.  Next month, I will become a college counselor at a Catholic girls high school in San Jose, the heart of Silicon Valley.  From gatekeeper to pathfinder.  I look forward to sharing my journey as I transition to secondary school and guide my inaugural cohort of students seeking admissions in Fall 2017.  A new adventure indeed.  Stay tuned and see you next month.


#ThickEnvelope is a monthly column that can be read exclusively on AsAmNews. Patrick Gabriel Lorenzo is Associate Director of Admissions at St. Mary’s College in Moraga, CA and a graduate of both a University of California campus and a regional private college. He has nearly 15 years of experience in higher education spanning public and private institutions. He is a firm believer in access, against the notion of college acceptances being a prize to be won, and promotes the idea of searching colleges from the inside out. Patrick can be reached at for further questions.


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