With the little ones growing up, many Marin mothers are taking advantage of their newfound freedom and starting a second career.
The College Counselor
Heidi de Chatellus, Insights to College
WHILE HELPING THE ELDEST of her three children through the college application process, Heidi de Chatellus had an epiphany.
“I realized how complex this process can be for parents,” she says, “and thought there was a real need out there in the community for quality help.”
After 10 years of being a stay-at-home mom, she got a certificate in college admissions and career planning at UC Berkeley (cost: $4,000) and put out her shingle as an independent college counselor. As part of her training, she interned in the college counseling office at Lycée Français in San Francisco to gain hands-on experience working with students.
Her job is more than full-time. “I work from my home office, more hours than I care to count,” she says. “My mornings are focused on researching, keeping abreast of developments in education and reading student work. The rest of the day is spent meeting students and families.” She also travels quite a bit, visiting more than 150 colleges around the country and meeting with admissions officers on a regular basis.
Kids today are starting sports younger and training harder. But is the “more is better” attitude helping or hurting them?
IT’S SPRING, AND all over the county kids are waking up early and eating a good breakfast, and parents are filling up the gas tanks to drive across town, to cheer on their offspring as they play their little hearts out. Thousands of kids are breaking in their new cleats, softening their new baseball gloves or tightening a new super-aerodynamic pair of swim goggles. Oh, the joys of being a kid in Marin County. Most of these young athletes compete in what is often called a “rec” league, meaning the games are usually parents in their own town, teammates are often classmates and coaches are volunteer parents.
However, there is another group of Marin young people, also waking up and eating a good breakfast and preparing for a game, which on any given day could be in Sacramento, Concord or even Reno. These kids might have a particular talent or an early aptitude because they have been introduced to the sport by a sibling or by parents motivated to provide their kid the learning experience of being on a more competitive team. These children, often identified as early as 7 years old, are being steered to play for competitive travel teams that carry prestigious labels like Select, Club and Elite.
THIS FALL, WHILE some families are off visiting pumpkin patches or tasting wines in Napa, others are sitting down to begin the grueling college application process. Parents of high school juniors and seniors are poring over brochures from ivy-walled colleges, students are racing to perfect college essays and get last-minute teacher recommendations, and admissions officers are off wooing students who show promise.
Anxiety has reached new levels in college admissions these days. Gone are the times when a 4.0 grade point average and a 1400 on the SAT all but guaranteed a space at Stanford or an Ivy League or UC school. Today, students with perfect grades and test scores are finding more closed doors than open ones. “You could have a 4.3 and 2200 SAT, but for selective schools like UC Berkeley and UCLA, it’s still going to be a reach,” says Laurie Favaro, a private college counselor in Marin.
The result? Students are studying harder, taking more AP courses than ever before and working with private college counselors who charge up to $400 per hour to help gain them a leg up on the competition.
“It’s a jungle out there,” says Gabrielle Glancy, an independent college consultant and former admissions director who has worked with students in the Bay Area for more than 25 years. She is also author of The Art of the College Essay, considered the book on that part of the application process.
“It’s much harder to get into college these days,” she says. “I recently started working with a student whose mom is a West Coast interviewer for Princeton. The mom told me confidentially she could never have gotten into Princeton if she applied today.”