Coach AK of ASKCOACHAK.COM’s Interview with Tim Pratt, Dean of College Advising at St. Paul’s School in Concord, New Hampshire. Tim is also a coach and the parent of a high school senior who is currently going through the college recruiting process.
Hello, This is Coach AK with ASKCOACHAK.COM. I’m here with Tim Pratt.
AK: Hello Tim, thank you for taking the time to talk with me today. What is your roll as well as some of your day to day responsibilities in the College Counseling Office?
Tim Pratt: I am the Dean of College Advising at St. Paul’s School in Concord, New Hampshire and I oversee an office of three (3) other College Advisors, and an Office Manager and as far as responsibilities I meet with students and parents. Speak with parents on the phone about the process, all aspects of the process and also oversee all of our programming, communicate with College Admission Officers, meet with coaches on behalf of students and any other areas of particular interest that kids have about the College Process.
AK: You have a son who is going through the college recruiting process, a high school senior. He is a football player and baseball player. Since you are playing both rolls as a parent and a Counselor, has the process changed your perspective at all?
Tim Pratt: Well I’ve had to step way back, because he works with a colleague of mine. We trust and appropriately left that part to my colleague Parker Chase in terms of helping Devin (son) through the process. So I have had to learn, as we often encourage parents to do; to allow the student to take the lead; which sometimes is easier said than done.
AK: Right! I know you deal with a lot of high school athletes, has there been a particular situation where a high school athlete really just went through the process all-wrong?
Tim Pratt: Sure! I think that can happen. I think sometimes the mistakes that student athletes make are that they start too late in terms of communicating with coaches, they don’t ask the right question and they get ambiguous answers. I think if you ask the right questions about the program, and about your potential fit in the program, most coaches will be very honest in return. Sometimes it’s good news that you want to hear and sometimes it’s not necessarily what you want to hear in terms of your fit for that program. But, it can help you to find schools that would be a good fit.
AK: So as your son is going through the process, and you are talking about asking the right questions; for your son, what is one piece of advice that you would give him or anyone going through the process?
Tim Pratt: Well! Generally to be open-minded, explore, not fixate too early on any one first choice, but recognize that there are lots of great options out there that you probably don’t know anything about as you wade into the process.
AK: I get a lot of questions and sometimes they can be controversial, working in the independent school system, you have students that dabble in multiple different areas. They do clubs; they do some other extra-curricular activities. Within the College recruiting process, or even College in general, outside of Sports, do you find it to be more important to be a jack of all trades or just extremely talented at one.
Tim Pratt: Well! I think it depends. but the most important thing is to be a good student. The transcript is going to be the most important part of your Application Profile. Certainly, some students find their passion early and really dive into it in depth. That’s great, others are exploring a lot of different areas and have a lot of different interest and that’s fine too. I think the most important thing is to do high school well and to be authentic and genuine in the things that you are pursuing and then trust that that’s going to lead you to schools that will value the same things that you are interested in. So sure, sometimes if you are extraordinarily talented or you have accomplished in a certain area, that can stand out in an application so long as the academic profile is there as well. But not everybody is like that, and being well rounded certainly still has its great important as well.
AK: What about in terms of the valedictorian and the star athlete, which one holds more weight in the College Acceptance Process? Assuming they don’t share both titles.
Tim Pratt: I don’t think you can compare the two, I mean I think that obviously if you are the valedictorian you are an extra ordinary student. If you are a star athlete, you know, you’ve got great gifts that you are bringing as well as the Academic Profile to go with it. And so, if you are a star athlete with D’s you are probably not going to be faring too well in the College Process, so again, doing well in schools and having a transcript is always going to be paramount.
AK: So what are College Admission Officers looking for in a High School student in general?
Tim Pratt: Well lots of different things! I mean I don’t think you can put a box around what they are looking for. They are trying to build a class, and a class that is diverse in all of its connotations. Diverse in terms of backgrounds, in terms of interest, in terms of strengths, in terms of areas that they might major in. They are trying to build a community of learners and so every individual member of that class will contribute in some way or ways to that, so there isn’t one thing that an Admissions Officer is looking for in a candidate. They are looking for students who are eager and passionate and intellectually curious and who are going to engage in their community.
AK: So as you are playing three (3) rolls at the St Paul School where you happen to have the rare opportunity to be in College Counseling, a Coach and a Parent, how would you recommend are the best ways for each -in their own way- assist and best support a student through the process.
Tim Pratt: How to support them? I mean, I think just to listen and engage them and to try and empower them to take the lead but also with the tools and the support so that they can navigate it successfully. That means, not doing it on their own but not leading them by the hand through it either. It’s a process where students learn a lot about themselves and become more mature and hopefully better prepared to succeed in College and not just to get into College. So I think generally speaking it’s to be that support system for them as they are going through the process.
AK: So, sometimes the College Counseling Office gets a bad rap, because a lot of students feel the College Counseling Office’s responsibility to get them into their school of choice. What is one misconception you would want to clear up? What do you wish people would understand about your office as well as the overall process?
Tim Pratt: Well, probably that, our role is to help educate students about the options available to them. Certainly, to support and advocate for them in the process, but we are not a part of the decision making side of that, and actually those decisions usually are made in a committee by a lot of people with a round the table where everybody has one vote. And so the way we can influence the process most is in our work with students. Helping them craft a really well balanced list, and it’s not by shoe horning people in. It’s just not how it works. But certainly, we advocate strongly for all our students, and enjoy doing that because it’s great to get to know High School students and all their hopes and dreams and support them in that.
AK: I appreciate you taking the time to speak with me today about the overall process in helping high school athletes as well as high school students. Also thank you for giving great advice for parents, coaches, as well as other individuals within the College Counseling profession. Is there anything else that you would like to add that you think would be very valuable for individuals to know?
Tim Pratt: I guess just that, to remember, always remember that getting into College is the beginning, it’s not end, and that what you do when you get there is going really be the determinant of how successful you are in the College Application Process, and that is where you have the control over how this all plays out for you. There are lots of great schools where you can be successful. And most important thing is it’s about the student and not the school.
AK: Thank You! I appreciate it. Thanks for taking the time. We are just here with Tim Pratt, the Director of College Advising at the St. Paul’s School in Concord, New Hampshire. This is Coach AK with ASKCOACHAK.COM. Until next time. Thank you!!