Counselor Spotlights

Jessie Bayag
Getting students on the right track with CollegeWeekLive

Gulliver Preparatory School is a co-educational independent college preparatory day school with an international reputation for excellence. Located in Pinecrest, Florida, the school fosters the talents and interests of each student.

The Challenge

The school's nine high school counselors support students' academic, emotional, social, and college needs. They have developed a college curriculum for each year of high school, helping students and parents to get an early start on college success. They begin by explaining the admissions process early in the freshman year and work step by step with students through their senior year, helping them with everything from finding the right college match to reviewing applications and selecting their major. "We work with the same group of students through their high school career, so we get to work with them to find the right college fit," said High School Counselor Jessie Bayag.

The Opportunity

The Counseling team is always looking for ways to help guide students and keep them on track in the process. "We have to remember that we're dealing with teenagers and they're often very busy," Bayag said. "They're taking the heaviest curriculum while studying for the SATs and participating in extracurricular activities. Going through the application process can be challenging for them."

The school decided to host an online college fair through CollegeWeekLive to help students keep college preparations top of mind. They used the CollegeWeekLive Advisor Center to invite UCLA, Syracuse University, the University of Florida, Florida Gulf Coast, Villanova University, and Boston University to text chat during the online fair.

To maximize participation, they coordinated the college fair in the student union during lunchtime. They hand selected students who they knew would be interested in those schools, but also promoted the online fair to all students. To help students prepare for talking with admissions reps, the counselors printed sample questions from the Advisor Center. "A lot of students came by and joined in," Bayag said. They were really excited about it."

The Results

Using CollegeWeekLive helped get students focused on preparing for college. "When you tell high school students there's a college milestone they need to meet that's two years away, it feels like a lifetime to them and often doesn't feel real," Bayag said. "But once they started chatting with admissions reps it gets them engaged and more involved in the process."

The counselors also found that students opened up more with admissions reps during the text chats. "The kids loved the CollegeWeekLive fair," Bayag said. "When they're at a college fair talking to the reps one-on-one can be intimidating. But with a text chat, students could think through what they wanted to ask. We even saw some students asking their peers what they thought of a potential question. The event went very smoothly."

The online conversations also helped students make a personal connection with the schools they were most interested in attending. "Students are using CollegeWeekLive to show a demonstrated interest in their top schools," Bayag said. "One of our students is looking to attend Syracuse University for its Architecture program. We set up a private chat so she could get her name out there, ask some follow-up questions, and remind them of why Syracuse is her top choice. It was a nice way to make a final connection before the schools make their decisions. I'm pleased to say that she did get accepted!"

Building on the success of the initial online fair, Gulliver Prep participated in additional CollegeWeekLive events, including Study in the UK Day. "About a dozen students participated and they were asking great questions," Bayag said. "One student used her time to get to know more about the schools and then schedule in-person meetings for when she is visiting the UK this summer."