Podcast: The Counselor’s Role in College Admissions

Blair Munhofen: The Counselor’s Role in College Admissions

How does your high school college counselor support your application to college? And what can a private college consultant do that your college counselor might not be able to? Today, I sit down with an old friend and former Signet admissions consultant, Blair Munhofen, to discuss how high school counselors and private consultants strive to support their students.



Blair Munhofen: 0:00

In an ideal world, there’s a team of supporters, right?

Let’s say someone has an illness right there might be their general practitioner. But then there’s also the specialists who’s involved, right. And maybe there’s multiple specialists, I think of that college processes being kind of another one of those you have a team of supporters that are helping Marshall students through the process

Sheila Akbar: 0:27

Hey, everybody, welcome to Don’t force it, the podcast where we learn about how to get into college without losing yourself. Today on the podcast, I get to talk to Blair, mon Hoffman, who is the director of the Upper School at the Miami Valley School in Ohio. And Blair actually worked with us at Signet as a private college consultant for a number of years.

So I’ve known Blair for a very long time. And we’ve continued to stay in touch, as he’s taken on more and more responsibility at his school. And today, I invited him to chat with us about the role of a high school college counselor, versus the role of a private college counselor How to tell if you really need one? What are the differences between the two? And what are the important things to remember, while working with either one of these professionals, and Blair is just such a gem of a human being. I’m really excited for you get to hear about his journey, his sense of ethics, his desire to serve students, and just the way he thinks about the entire college process. I think it’s a very refreshing and heartening perspective. So please enjoy. Thank you so much for joining me today. How are you?

Blair Munhofen: 1:41

Happy to be here. I’m great. Great. Looking forward to conversation.

Sheila Akbar: 1:45

Yeah, it’s great to see you been a few years. And I’m hoping we could start with a little bit of background on your story. So where did you go to college? How did you choose it? And what did your career path look like up to now?

Blair Munhofen: 2:00

Oh, goodness. All right, I’ll try to give you the the Reader’s Digest version.

So I grew up in suburban Atlanta, I knew that wherever I went to college, I wanted to go to a school that wasn’t too big, but a place that would be a new environment somewhere that I would have access to kind of like a global reach and a place that was in an exciting city. And so really what I ended up deciding between Cornell where my sister went, and upstate New York, and then also Georgetown University in Washington, DC, and after visiting on my birthday, and hand turning in my application, as nerdy as that was, I was really delighted to get an offer of admission through the early action process there. And I was pretty sure that that’s where I would go. And even after receiving admission, from Cornell, I just knew that that Georgetown was going to be the place for me while I was there, there were a number of things I discovered that I didn’t know or didn’t appreciate, beforehand, that I just felt incredibly grateful for when I was there, probably one that will always stick with me is going to a Jesuit institution. So that just really resonated me on a number of levels, you know, sort of religiously, also the values that I have about wanting to serve others learning that’s not just for the sake of learning, which is great. And I love that, but learning in a way that is going to benefit others too. And I would say that those kinds of values really informed what became my career choice for this portion of my life, which has been an education. And so after I graduated, I knew that I wanted to go teach. And I ended up in all sort of a stranger than fiction, fashion, and a small independent pre K to 12 school in Dayton, Ohio, where I really didn’t have any connections, but seemed like a great opportunity for me to grow. And I have been at the same school for the last 13 years, I’ve been a history teacher, I’ve taught some English classes to I’ve been a department chair, I was the Director of College Counseling for a period of time. And I’m the director of Upper School, which is like a high school principal. And I’ve been doing that for the past six years. Along the way. I earned a master’s degree in theological studies from the University of Dayton, and I have a doctorate in educational leadership from Vanderbilt University. So I’ve continued to go to school a lot since having graduated college, but I feel like what’s been interesting is I’ve always wanted to be in education. But what that has looked like has been different. At one point I thought about becoming a professor of religious studies. But really what changed it for me was my experience as a Director of College Counseling, I was plugged into a leadership role within a school that mentoring element of the job resonated with me, I love working with students through problems and challenges, informing them but also giving them space to ask questions and to to explore on their own I love working with parents during that process and educating them and in many ways, the things that I’m best at, I would say in my my role as director of Upper School are a lot of those skills that I honed as a Director of College Counseling, but ultimately that that mentoring and coaching both now teachers as well as students and their families, is that part of the job I really enjoy and that really came before when I was a college Counselor.

Sheila Akbar: 5:00

That’s amazing. Thank you for that wonderful recap. I’m wondering if you could say a little bit more about what your responsibilities were as the Director of College Counseling. Now you’re in a smaller private institution. So it’s probably different at larger public schools. And it sounds like the college counselor role was separate from a sort of guidance counselor role. Can you talk about the difference of between those two things?

Blair Munhofen: 5:23

Yeah, they are so different. And I’ll speak to my experience as a student, let’s say a high achieving student at a pretty well resourced suburban public school, I didn’t know that, like, gosh, if I really want to go to a highly selective institution, I’m going to have to like get my ducks in a row early on. And so I remember scheduling an appointment with the guidance counselor, or the school counselor, when I was a freshman, and she was really confused, you know, like, hey, we really shouldn’t be chatting right now, like, you just just go to your work kind of thing. And some of that I don’t think it was I’m certainly paraphrasing, she was very kind. But ultimately, that was, I think indicative of Netcat, did a study about four or five years ago, and determined that the average caseload of a public school counselor is about somewhere between 400 to 500 students. So if you can imagine one person who’s supporting 400 500 students, I mean, that’s an enormous amount. And in large part, not only are they supporting their students, but the ways that they’re doing it are oftentimes through course scheduling, supporting that student as they’re working with potentially school psychologists on individualized educational plans, you know, reminding them about graduation requirements. And then also, as you get closer to junior and senior year meeting with them on, you know, maybe there’s one meeting a semester, you know, over junior year and senior year, but for many of my friends who were also, you know, smart and dedicated students, they may have only met with the school counselor once or twice before they graduated. So I would contrast that pretty significantly with my experience working as a college counselor in an independent school where my job was really focused specifically on helping students through the college admissions process. So you know, from identifying the types of schools may be interested in based upon some Personality assessments or interest inventory, you know, we would create long surveys to gather information that would help us curate a list with the students and their families. You know, we would have meetings with individual meetings with students and by sophomore year, there’d be presentations to ninth and 10th grade families and then junior and senior year, we would actually do a college counseling class that would meet once a week where we would talk about and discuss just the admissions process, we would do a mock admissions committee and ACT like there’s institutional priorities, how would you decide based upon these students that are similar in some ways, but different than others based upon your your institution’s priorities, and you know, that process was very educational. And then also individualized in the sense that as a counselor, I really knew these students, well, I knew their families. Well, because I met with all of them, we’d had multiple conversations, even before the first application essay was even started, my counselor actually changed from my junior to senior year. And so that was something that that caused a lot of anxiety and worry, but I certainly was not having the kind of extended conversations with that counselor that I was having with mine in my independent school, when it came to the the application process, you know, as a counselor at an independent school, and this isn’t as common as it used to be, but I would call colleges to advocate for my students that isn’t as common now in large part because of the equity of who’s able to make those calls. But I do know that a very consistent practice and independent schools especially is that individualized school recommendation letter, which worked out at a pre K to 12 school, I remember one of the letters I wrote for a student who was admitted at Northwestern was a an award that he won when he was in fifth grade. And not that the award is actually important, but the idea that he was being recognized for honor and integrity, which is something that carried through his time at the school for the next seven years. And so the ability to draw on this, we’ve known this student we’ve known this child for a long time, was something that was really unique in that particular context that I was in, but I also had the time, the space and the resources to be able to get to know these students exceptionally well. And through that advocate for them both with things like the score nation letter, but then also identifying schools that would be an appropriate fit for the student and the strengths and challenges that they had.

Sheila Akbar: 9:21

Yeah, I mean, how valuable even just the college counseling class to be able to spend time with students on a regular basis really just thoroughly educating them about this process instead of leaving them to their own devices. We talk at Signet, you know this, we talk a lot about the high school Whirlpool and those parking lot conversations that can be so detrimental you know, there’s a lot of misinformation a lot of rumors and it’s where a lot of that kind of Keeping Up with the Joneses sort of social pressure comes from oh so and so’s kid did this volunteer trip in you know, whatever South American country and now everybody thinks they have Do something like that, or that exact program. So yeah, what a great way to kind of keep it under control. I’m sure some of that still happened. But at least you had a direct line to students and families there. So yeah, that the experience would be very, very different. Now I went to a small, private high school, but we didn’t have a college counselor, we just had a guidance counselor who was just a really lovely man, he was one of my favorite people. But my high school I think, told me like 80% of students did not go to college once they graduated, and then the 20%, who did vast majority stayed in state or went to the local community college. So my brother and I were somewhat anomalous within the student body that we were looking at, you know, some of the schools that you had mentioned, as well. And my counselor just had no idea how to support a student who was aiming for for those sort of ivy league schools. And so I was left to my own devices, and my parents did not grow up in this country. So they were really just going off of rumors and going off of, you know, what they thought would would help us be successful. And, you know, they’re the constant drumbeat that they had was academic excellence over and over again. And thankfully, that is one of the most important things in the process. So, you know, I came out okay, and I made it.

Blair Munhofen: 11:17

Can I mention two things. Yeah, the first one is, I would say, because parents are a huge part of this process. And I think that’s even more so the case. Now, given the expense of college, right? I mean, this is a a, an incredibly expensive endeavor for our family to take. I mean, it’s like buying a house that you never get to live in. And I think because of that, you know, my like, I think about my parents, so my, my mom, like, never went to college, that was never an opportunity for her. My dad, like went to a boarding school. So colleges was sort of like this is this is what’s going to happen, I think for him, he had pretty wide latitude of where to choose, because the cost of college in the late 60s was not what it is today, right? Like you could actually have a part time job and you could afford paying a good proportion of tuition that is just not possible today, the vast majority of institutions. So I think on some level, one thing that’s just really interesting for today is that parents are really involved part of the process. And they should be because they’re they’re potentially footing a bill that is incredibly expensive. That brings up I think, two important realities. One is and Sheila, are your parents from the United States? Or did they grow up elsewhere?

Sheila Akbar: 12:24

Yeah, they grew up in Bangladesh came here in the 70s.

Blair Munhofen: 12:26

So in my experience with working with families international families is that there’s also some fundamental differences of what the purpose of college is, and what it should look like one of the students that I was working with years ago, his father was German, and the idea that you would like live in a dormitory in that you would have sort of these elective courses to kind of maybe figure things out, or that you, you came in as undeclared, were really foreign. And, frankly, in his mind, not like these don’t really make sense, you know, like, you should know what you’re going to study, you should know what you’re going to do, and why can’t you just live at home while you do it to save money, like, you know, whereas for me very steeped in an American education environment, you know, I’m in this point, you go to college, and part of the experience is living with different people and having to interact people who are different from you, and have different beliefs. And that kind of helps build your own sense of self and understanding of the world around you. And it’s not that he disagreed with those, but there were fundamentally different experiences that may have led to those different outcomes, you know, for him, it might be, well, you figure that out when you get older, you know, whereas here, it’s like, well, college is sort of an incubating time for the development of a human. So I think it’s good to keep in mind that whenever you’re working with a student on the process, be thinking about what kind of values parents are bringing to it as well. The other thing that I think is kind of interesting, too, is, let’s say your parents that both the parents of a child who are applying to college or whoever the Guardians may be are all from America, and all went to college. Well, the college process even 10 15 years ago, is entirely different in many respects to what it is today. So the example I always think of being in Ohio is I want to say the overall admissions rate for Case Western 10 years ago was probably somewhere around 60 to 70%. And I want to say this year, it might be dipping under 15%. And if it was just regular decision, that’s probably under 10. And some of that is the front loading with binding early decisions type application processes. Some of that is as your your most highly selective schools become ever so selective, you know, that next tier of other pretty still highly selective schools are becoming even more selective that whether you’re the family you’re working with and has an international background or domestic background, there’s so much education that’s involved, because this is just a different landscape than it was previously and it’s certainly a different landscape than what you’d find in a lot of international context.

Sheila Akbar: 14:47

100% Yeah, I think that’s really important to keep in mind and time, time changes a lot of things and I think COVID also changed a lot of things. Because with the with the lack of testing required meant that many schools in those first few years of COVID, we saw the application numbers just increase exponentially at a lot of these schools, and some schools have taken the opportunity to make themselves more selective, and reject students who otherwise, you know, maybe three years ago would have been a huge catch for that totally other conversation. One of the things I wanted to talk to you about as someone who was a college counselor in a school, and who also worked with Signet as a private college counselor, I’m curious if you can talk about sort of the differences in perspective, and the differences in priorities and the balance, you would try to strike in either of those roles if they were any different?

Blair Munhofen: 15:40

Yeah, that’s a good question. I would say that even in as much as the rate ratio between student and counselor is, is a third of the size, if not even smaller than what you have with that 450 ish to one for public schools. You know, I might meet with a student once a month, you know, through the college process, and then maybe sort of irregular meetings. But more frequently, as we’re as we’re sort of working on essays, that kind of thing, you know, as as like a counselor is saying that I might meet with a student once a week or once every two weeks. So I think on some level, a sort of easy data point is that you simply are able to just meet with students more frequently, right? Also, my caseload was like three students versus let’s say, I’m working with 50 Seniors, right. So there’s certainly a difference in the ratio there. I think that if you’re looking for sort of an even more individualized process, that’s really that really happens with a private college counselor, I think what is important to keep in mind, though, is it’s less of an either or, and it’s more of a both and, and the idea that in an ideal world, there’s a team of supporters, right, let’s say someone has an illness, right, there might be their general practitioner, but then there’s also the specialists who’s involved, right. And maybe there’s multiple specialists, I think of that college processes being kind of another one of those, you have a team of supporters that are helping Marshall student through the process, what I think the counselor at the school does that is distinctive from what a private college counselor do is that the school counselor is going to be an active advocate for the student in a way that is facing the colleges, that a private counselor wouldn’t be able to do. Right. So that’s that school recommendation letter that counselors writing, that is the working with teachers on the teacher recommendation letters, that is if the school has a relationship with the colleges, where the students applying, and might be calling the school to maybe add, you know, extra oomph to the application or as decisions are rendered, let’s say there’s like a deferral or something is there that that counselor might be able to call the school and say, help me understand what your applicant pool was, like, in a way that a private counselor might not. So I think, you know, one that they both do, they’re both gonna provide Sal, right, they’re both going to help work with a student on developing list, they’re both gonna recommend, you know, certain schools to visit. But I think that there’s a potential for the Signet counselor to provide even additional education and mentoring through the process. And part of that is simply because of the numbers game. But in terms of that necessary relationship, that sort of ligament between school to college, that’s going to be facilitated by the counselor that’s at the school

Sheila Akbar: 18:11

at the school, right. And they play such an important role in making sure the grades get submitted and all the documentation is in and sort of managing the application from from that point of view that private counselor wouldn’t be able to do. And certainly, it seems that we’ll be the first to say not everybody needs a private counselor, not everyone should have a private counselor, there are some kids who can do this by themselves. You know, there are the Uber motivated students who like their independence around certain things, and their high school counselor is probably going to be more than enough support than they need. Other students who may need extra support could lean on an involved parent, a relative who recently went through the process or you know, some family friend who has some exposure to this profit processor or have some experience with it. Are there particular situations where you have ever recommended to a student of yours that they should get a private counselor or situations where you think a private counselor would be more helpful to have as a member of the team than not?

Blair Munhofen: 19:08

That’s a really good question. There have been a couple instances. And usually, that’s when I noticed early on in a process, there are a lot of questions. And it’s the kind of thing where I almost look at it more as like almost mental health support, if that makes sense. Where there’s like a need for there to be, I guess, the best way to put it just additional support where I, in my role as a counselor, I can certainly answer a lot of questions and be responsive, but there are there are times that I’ve experienced where it’s you know, this student and this family, I think needs someone that sort of like kind of on speed dial essentially. And some of that I think is it might be the first time going through the experience. It might be that we had talked earlier, the sort of parking lot conversation has stirred up some anxiety and that could have been that a fan We could have said, you know, the counselor here, like he, it could have been something that was maybe not flattering of me. And it’s like, well, if there’s not the trust there, I’m sorry, that’s the case. But I know someone that I trust that I encourage you to go talk to. And then we can actually, like I said before, we can be a team. And that can actually help me in my work with the family as well, especially if that counselor and I on kind of the same same sort of wavelength, we work together and reinforce things that they just might need multiple voices to be saying to. So there are certainly times when that has been the case. I know that I remember early on in my counseling career counseling international students is tricky. The admissions process for those students is just different and involves oftentimes more required testing, there are usually higher admission standards in the sense that international applicants are placed in a different pool just for international applicants, and there’s just less spots. And so we’re you see, you know, the admissions rate at Stanford is four point whatever percent, the admissions rate for international students has got to be less than 1%. And so that’s just a different different experience. And I remember early on thinking that if there and this is tricky, because there are some groups that advise international students, and I don’t think they operate by the guiding ethics of NACAC. And so it’s really important that if there’s an international student who’s looking for that additional support, they’re finding someone who’s following the neck ethics principles. Well, that’s something that would that also comes to mind.

Sheila Akbar: 21:19

Yeah, the other place that I’ve seen it be very helpful is when students, maybe there’s some anxiety in the mix, too. But when students have a lot of trouble staying accountable to deadlines, when it’s maybe their executive function challenges or another kind of learning difference, or it’s just a student who’s really, really busy and needs some sort of regular rhythm to stay on top of complex project, like applying to college, that’s where a private counselor can really be helpful, because there’s more FaceTime, there’s more of an ability to say, we’re going to do this in really small chunks. And I’m going to check on you every week to make sure that this little piece is done in that little pieces done so that they don’t feel like they have to do it all at once. Because we know, that’s not how you put together quality applications.

Blair Munhofen: 22:03

But, when I think about what you just mentioned, you know, I don’t think in any IEP that I’ve ever read, there’s no reference to how that impacts the college admissions process. And it just makes me wonder for students who need additional support, how is that going to be provided? Especially if they’re getting support in the classroom? You know, why wouldn’t that extend to the college application process, which I think as you and I, both a test, like colleges had a pretty fundamental impact on my life, right? Where I went and who I interacted with, and what I studied and the experiences I had, has really shaped to who I am. And if I needed specific supports in the classroom, I probably would need those on the college process, too.

Sheila Akbar: 22:40

Absolutely. It points out one of these weird gaps, I think in our education system that shows up around the college process. And I think around standardized testing as well, we know that those are two essential things that students in high school are going to go through for the most part, some can avoid testing, thankfully, in order to get to the next step of their educational process in college, but those are not often integrated into what they actually have to do in school. Usually, a school is going to lean on a private testing preparation company to come in and give a presentation to the school around. Here’s what the LSAT is. And here’s what the AC T is. And here’s how you choose. And this is what preparation looks like. Because there often aren’t in house resources to do that. And no one wants to build that sort of specialty. And it feels anti education to be teaching to a standardized test. But yet all the kids have to go through it anyway. And then the same thing with the college process. I mean, it sounds like your school is really amazing in that there is a college counseling class. But for the vast majority of schools, it’s just something that kind of floats on top of your education. And there may be some required meetings with a counselor, but it’s really kind of up to the students to kind of advocate for themselves and get more attention and support around the college process. So I think you’re right, I think that’s a big gap. Certainly in the IEP process. I’ve never seen a, you know, specifications around this is the kind of extra support the student should get during the application process. And then there’s the whole question of like, how do you present or not present a learning challenge in your college application? You know, some people want to talk about it, because they learned about it at some point in high school and their grades changed once they figured out how to accommodate this challenge. And some students don’t want to talk about it because they’re worried that a college is gonna say, well, we don’t really want you if this is a challenge of yours that we have to support you around. Again, another conversation, maybe we’ll have to have you back to talk about there’s one last question I would really love to hear your input on. I hear from a lot of parents whose kids go to private schools that they want a private counselor because they don’t believe the college counselor at their school is only thinking about the best interest of their kid they really perceive that these private counselors are managing the school’s own priorities in terms of we want the best acceptances to the best schools for marketing purposes. And for our schools reputation, and in that way the school may throw their weight behind one student or another depending on who they think might have the best chance. So a lot of these parents are coming to us or other companies to find a private counselor who will only have their student’s best interests in mind. What do you say about that?

Blair Munhofen: 25:15

So I guess I would, I would first start off just with that, it’s hard to make sweeping generalizations, right. So I want to be Be careful to speak from my experience, and then also try to understand what would lead a parent to come to those conclusions. So the first thing that I would say is, in my work with students, as a in School Director of College Counseling, my focus, as I’m working with each student is ensuring that they have a list that is going to provide them a number of college options that fit them their interests, or aspirations, that kind of thing. And so like, if I had two students who are really, really, you know, top notch students, and they both want to apply to the same super highly selective school, in my head, I might know, well, there could be an element of they’re competing against each other. But in my counseling of those students, one, I’m not going to talk about another student’s application process with them, they might mention it to me, and I’ll say, okay, that’s, you know, that’s interesting, but that’s their process, let’s focus on your process. And in my, my guidance to them, I never, I was never an experience where I said you shouldn’t apply here, because it’s other students applying here. And they’re really the benefit. And that just wasn’t a part of my practice. And I like take the ethics and the the integrity of College Counseling really seriously, NACAC used to have their standards of ethics and good practice, it’s sort of been picked rebranded as their guiding ethics. And that idea of, you know, really focusing on each individual student was really important. Now, as a college counselor at an independent school that has tuition driven, I was also conscious of its it’s nice to have highly selective admits because it is something that we are going to share with prospective families as one of the value ads of the school did that mean that I told students like, hey, everyone just applied to every Ivy League school, and we’re going to hit some of it like, Absolutely not, never was going to happen. But I was fortunate to be an environment where organically, I was with tastic students and families that as we looked at the data related to our schools, historical admission at colleges, I didn’t have to tell a student, like you can’t apply here, or you shouldn’t apply here, or you should or, you know, they could look at the data themselves and make educated decisions, and then we could walk through it and talk about it together. Now, what might lead a family to say, it seems like or it feels like this other student or these other students are getting preferential treatment? You know, I wonder if Is there a discrepancy between the different students who are applying that is is quite wide? You know, is there something that counselor knows about the institutional priorities of a school, you know, that, hey, they are looking for more, the kind of funny example that counselors will sometimes use is that they need a new sousaphone player, right? Like that’s, that’s what they’ve said. They said on the phone call, they talked about it when they visited here during their admissions visit to the school. And look, we’ve got two sousaphone players that are the best shot right, you know, is there some kind of information that they know of that as informing their recommendations to students that they just haven’t communicated to the families, and you can hear even in my tone of this is sort of like that presumption of goodwill, that there is a there is a reason that is informing the counseling that they’re engaged in? And if there’s ever a question, and I would always encourage families to do this, if there’s ever a question, you’re not sure about something or something is, it feels weird, the last thing I’d ever want a parent to do is to let that fester and just ask the question, or just have the conversation with with the college counselor, I tend to believe that the counselors in independent schools are going to be some of the best in the business. And part of that is because we talked about those numbers before that they have the ability to get to know students. And we still have caseload right, we still have sort of the proverbial a lot on our plates, right? And if we aren’t, if you’re not hearing something, and you feel like there isn’t a communication, then certainly reach out. But I do know, like, certainly there is an awareness of the list of schools, but that’s coupled with the integrity of trusting that the process will bear out the way it’s supposed to. And then also that smart kids get into really cool schools.

Sheila Akbar: 29:24

Yeah, yeah. And I think, you know, if we also keep in mind, where you go to college is not who you’ll be and doesn’t define your success. And certainly, it can have a huge influential impact on the trajectory of your life. But I would wager that if you had gone to another institution that maybe shared the same values as Georgetown, but wasn’t Georgetown itself, you probably would have had a similar path. I know, in thinking about my own educational path, I probably would have ended up doing the same things and having the same amount of success. How I have not gone to Harvard had I gone to maybe even a school that was a better fit for, for me and my, my particular values. So I think smart engaged students can have a great experience at a lot of different colleges. And it’s not all hinging on, you know, which which IV do you go to? Or which hyper selective school do you go to?

Blair Munhofen: 30:17

I 100% agree with that, because I think the the skills that lead to a really enriched high school experience, are the same skills that lead to an enriched college experience. And I would extend that to like lead to an enriched adult experience, right, like, when you graduate college, there is not like a student activities club fair to go to, like you, you have to go search for, you know, those those nonprofits or those volunteer opportunities, or the kickball League, or the ultimate frisbee club, you have to kind of go out of your way to find those things. And high school is training ground for college and college is really a great training ground for real life. So if you’re a high school student who enjoys talking to your teachers, that’s going to serve you well, when you go to college, and you want to talk to your professors who are ended up going to be the people who write your references when you apply for jobs or apply to graduate school. So I think that there’s something to be said too, about college doesn’t become this, like an emphasis. It’s not like some special key that’s going to unlock doors that would otherwise always be closed. It certainly can open up different schools open up different kinds of doors, but so much of it are the skills, the dispositions that carry you through all of those experiences that are kind of like the one constant, but the names will change along the way.

Sheila Akbar: 31:37

Yeah, that’s a fantastic point. And I think a great place to end so thank you for joining me, this is a really great conversation. It’s always wonderful to talk with you.

Thanks for listening, everybody. I had such a great time listening to Blair. And felt like he was articulating so many of the things that I wish more students could hear from trusted adults in their lives. So if you’ve listened to this, please share these nuggets of wisdom and these perspectives with the young people in your life because they are hugely important, not just to them moving forward in their lives, but their mental health. So thanks for joining us and tune in next time.


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