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Alex Catalan

Assistant Director of College Counseling
B.A. Political Science, Beloit College
M.Ed. Education, University of Pennsylvania

In college counseling, what are the most important goals you have in mind as you work with your students?

I believe that there are two signature qualities to a successful college search—self-discovery and outward-discovery. While the college counseling process is not a formal academic class, per se, it is a long-form journey of learning, as students carve a path towards independence and adulthood. This process includes students reflecting on their community, goals, interests, academic and co-curricular experiences, and discovering the power and value of their authentic voices. Likewise, I want students to successfully explore the vast landscape of colleges and universities that we are so fortunate to have available to us. There are “right fit” schools for each student, whether or not they have heard of the school at the start of the process. Finally, I hope that each of my students will emerge from the process with confidence and excitement as they move forward on their academic and personal journeys.

What practices do you use to help accomplish those objectives?

I try to find a balance between counselor, expert, mentor, and friend. The college search comes with a great deal of stress, so I try to create a comfortable and relaxed atmosphere where students can feel free to express their beliefs and emotions and that I will listen carefully to each of their thoughts, laughs, questions, and concerns. We all know the stakes are high, but there is also a tremendous amount of joy that can come along with the college search. I also try to incorporate my background in college admissions, my passion for data and financial aid, and my appreciation for each college’s unique academic offerings.

What do you enjoy most about working one-on-one with your students?

Over the course of four years and an incremental number of one-on-one meetings, I get to know my students extraordinarily well. A college counselor’s office is always present and feels like home. There is no wrong answer in the college counselor’s office, there is no grade. I love watching my students evolve throughout their time in high school. From their most boisterous and joyful moments to feelings of frustration, and from their initial concerns about college to the “ah-ha” moments of confidence, I see it all. I feel so lucky to be a part of their journey, and my advisees often feel like family. It is through this close bond that I believe our students can be so successful in the college search.

What do you like best about teaching at Seven Hills?

While working in college admissions, I became interested in transitioning to the high school side of the process. While searching for my own best-fit school, I had one primary criterion—it had to feel like a high school version of a small college. Whenever I brought up Seven Hills to colleagues, they would always respond with some incarnation of “Seven Hills students are incredible.” I have to concur. When I first arrived at Seven Hills, I found an intimate, thrilling, open-minded, engaging, interdisciplinary, and passionate learning environment. This is all supported by a stellar group of faculty. I feel so fortunate to be a member of the Seven Hills community.