SACAC Member Spotlight on Kathryn Daniels

Kathryn Daniels, College Counselor, Hammond School (SC)

How did you get started in School Counseling?

I knew I wanted to be a College Counselor from a fairly young age, which I have learned is pretty rare! I first considered it when I went through the college application process myself, as I had a wonderful College Counselor and thought, “Her job seems really cool.” However, I went off to college planning to be a high school English teacher. After one semester, though, I realized the classroom wasn’t my calling, and that I wanted to work with and support students in another realm. That’s when I revisited the idea of College Counseling and reached out to College Counselors I knew to find out more. I was even able to intern in a College Counseling office during my senior year at Vanderbilt, which really solidified that it was the right path for me! So, I made a plan: go to graduate school for Higher Education/Student Affairs and begin working in admissions, be an Admissions Counselor at few different colleges to gain experience, and then switch over to “the other side of the desk.” Miraculously, things worked out according to plan!

What was the transition like from College Admissions to High School Counseling

Because I had always wanted to eventually make the switch, it felt like a dream come true in so many ways. However, that doesn’t mean it was easy! The very first thing I realized is there is so much to learn, and you can never know everything. With thousands of colleges in the United States alone – each with their own personality, strengths, and nuances in the admissions process – the work of researching and educating myself is never done. However, that is something I truly love about this job!

How has SACAC played a role in your career?

SACAC has been an important resource to me since I was in graduate school. I took advantage of opportunities like the Drive-In Conference in South Carolina at that time, and it was an amazing way to connect with colleagues in the field and dip my toe in the waters before I began job-searching after graduation. Then, throughout my job searches, SACAC was invaluable.

One of the best experiences I have had with SACAC was participating in Summer Seminar in 2019. The guidance and resources from that experience, as well as the friendships and connections I made, are so valuable to me and were perfectly timed right at the beginning of my College Counseling journey. I highly recommend it to anyone who is new to College Counseling!

What is your best piece of advice for someone new to the profession?

My best advice would be to not be afraid to ask questions! I find that everyone in our profession is really willing to help out. From my Director who I pester with about a hundred questions a day, to my SACAC mentor, to colleagues at similar schools, I don’t ever feel alone in getting through tough situations or making big decisions. I love to utilize resources like the College Admissions Counselors Facebook group and several email listservs to crowdsource problems or gather advice. I’ve also learned to never be afraid to pick up the phone and talk through something with an Admissions Counselor! Nine times out of ten, they are happy you called and more than willing to help in any way they can.

What is your favorite part of your job?

I knew coming in that the relationships I would build with the students would be the best part, and I was right about that. Working with a student at this crucial, exciting time in their life, and being their advocate through the good and the bad is a special role. It’s also truly a joy to get to know all of these impressive young people and brag on them shamelessly to my colleagues on the other side of the desk! There is nothing more rewarding than getting to help a student find their best fit and go off to do great things in the world.

However, another thing I love about this job is that every day is different and there’s never a dull moment! Typically, I blink, and the day is over. I don’t do well in jobs where I feel bored, so the fast-paced nature and tendency to feel pulled in a lot of different directions is perfect for me.

When you are not working, what do you like to do?

I have been an avid reader my entire life, and I was an English major in college, so when I’m not working, I’m often found reading. My husband and I also love to travel, and New York City is one of my favorite places to visit because I’m an enormous musical theatre nerd. I have a five-year-old miniature bernedoodle, Fenny, and I spend a lot of time with her, or talking about her when I’m not with her. One more thing I have recently gotten into is jogging…I never would have believed it, but quarantine caused us all to do some crazy things, right?