College Counselor Heather Lowe Reflects on her first semester at M-A

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M-A hired Heather Lowe to serve as the new college counselor this school year. Lowe joins the school following a year coaching college readiness at Everest Public High School in Redwood City, and two years working as a college counselor at College Park High School.

Following up her first semester at M-A, Lowe shared her experience working with the seniors this year. “Many students are very anxious about the process, and I tried to help them handle that anxiety in a more healthy way.” She noticed many students put an excessive amount of pressure on themselves in order to get admitted into a college. “Some students could not be persuaded to apply to less than twenty colleges — and those students were incredibly busy and anxious all last semester.” 

Lowe went to graduate school for Human Development and Psychology at Harvard Graduate School of Education. She focused more specifically on “social and emotional learning,” before realizing she wanted to help students deal with anxiety. Lowe wrote a curriculum for high school students getting ready for college. 

Lowe says that the process of applying for the most prestigious colleges doesn’t necessarily ensure your success in life. As a high schooler, Lowe learned to do everything on her own. Not being able to afford college tours and counselors caused her to work three jobs, and her determination to get into college paid off. This is why she emphasizes that college admission process is a “stepping stone before you go out into the workforce, so you want to learn valuable skills.” Lowe believes everyone is a “worthy and deserving and good person.” 

At Barnard College, Lowe studied Russian literature. After finishing graduate school, she moved to Russia as a translator and teacher. She mentioned working with all different age groups, ranging from preschoolers to adults, but her favorite time was teaching high schoolers. “High schoolers have always been a really good age group for me. They have personality, they have a work ethic, you can reason with them, and you can still convince them to do things they don’t like.”

Lowe’s experience abroad taught her about judgment toward others. “People come from so many different circumstances that it’s given me a better ability to engage people and understand how to work with them better.”

Her schedule consists of “meeting with students about their college lists, and answering questions about specific college applications and financial aid.” She spends a portion of her day doing open workshop, which is where seniors come in her office to ask for one-on-one help. “The amount of resources and support that students have here is pretty incredible and its nothing like I’ve ever seen in any other public schools that I’ve worked at before.”

“I do hold my own experience of applying to college in the back of my head to remind myself of what different parts of the process were like for me. But every student is so different that I can’t truly use that experience as a way to compare what the college application process should look like. It can definitely be tempting to tell students, “everything will work out the way it’s supposed to work out,” but that really isn’t comforting to hear and doesn’t address any of a student’s worries. From completing college, I know that if I hadn’t attended the college I did, I still would’ve found a good job — and if I had known that in high school, when I was driving myself beyond the point of stress, I think I would’ve been a lot happier and a better person.”

Callista Mille is a sophomore and first-year journalist with the Chronicle. She looks forward to learning more about the field of journalism while photographing and writing on a variety of topics.

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