Holderness School students beginning their college search will have a distinct advantage this semester thanks to the key insights of the school’s new Associate Director of College Counseling, Chelsea Regan.
Formerly Colby College’s Assistant Director of Admissions, Chelsea’s firsthand knowledge of the college admissions process will serve Holderness students well. A 2017 graduate of Colby College with a dual major in Mathematical Science and Theater and Dance, Chelsea is currently pursuing her MBA from the University of Maine at Orono. With a strong focus on statistics and data, Chelsea brings an analytical approach to helping students understand which schools will fit them best.
“Chelsea will add an important perspective to our office having worked in college admissions at Colby,” said Director of College Counseling Kelsey Berry. “We are excited for her to contribute her experience organizing people, events, and data to our programs. We believe our students will benefit from her expertise, enthusiasm, and empathy during the college process.”
We recently sat down with Chelsea to talk about the use of data in the college search, pulling back the curtain on college admissions, and her eagerness to join the Holderness community. Here’s what she had to say.
You’ve been working in college admissions. What made you decide to flip the script and work in college counseling at a high school?
I moved to Maine with my best friend who was going to law school at U Maine. I actually ended up back at Colby, which was sort of surprising – but not really. I worked in admissions for the last year and a half, and loved it. I knew working at Colby that I wanted to help students find the opportunities I was lucky enough to find. I wanted to help people figure out what the next steps were after all these incredible steps I've been able to take.
But the thing with college admissions is you don't have that meaningful interaction with students because you're talking to so many. At the end of the day, you're reading applications. You get to know them, but you don't get to really talk to them. You don't get to have conversations like “What are you really looking for?” or “How can we help?” That interaction just doesn't happen as much. So that's what led me to look for things on this side of the desk, which I'm very excited about. When I found out about Holderness, it really felt like I was coming back around full circle, joining a community that was very similar to the one that I grew up in, in middle school and high school.
So you have experience in independent schools?
I started in sixth grade at The Ethel Walker School, which is a small private boarding and day school in Simsbury, Connecticut, which is where I'm from. I was actually a day student all the way through, and I really credit my time at Walker's for my ability to be an independent advocate for my own education, and for my further career success down the road. I loved learning and growing in that really small, tight-knit community where it wasn't just like at four o'clock everyone goes home. Everything is kind of a part and built in. I think I always had that in the back of my mind - that it would be really fun to go back to something like that eventually.
How do you think your experience in college admissions will help Holderness students find the right school?
I think I can help demystify the process. When I was traveling to schools for Colby, something I would always talk to students about was how the college process can feel so mysterious. It feels like you send things into a void and hopefully get the response you want with no clear idea of what's happening in between those two things. Having been on the side that receives the application, I can help clarify the process. Hopefully, I can help students realize that there are real people with real processes and real things that they're thinking about that are going to be different than what you might assume. I hope to be able to demystify the process coming in with firsthand experience.
Additionally, I've had a lot of time to decipher what colleges really mean when they say something. What does it tangibly look like in terms of the application when a college says they're looking for students with art interest or STEM interest, for example? Hopefully I'll be able to help translate the college’s marketing language into something like, “Here's what they're going to reasonably be able to offer you, and here's the experience you might have. Here's what we're hoping to get to, based on what you want.” Hopefully I'll be able to bridge that gap between what students expect from college and their experience of it.
You have a background in math – specifically, statistics – and you’re currently working towards your MBA. What role can data and analytics play in the college search?
I'm specifically focused on business analytics and how data can be used to help us, which I'm really excited to apply to the college process. I think sometimes students think finding the right college is all about feelings, vibes and luck. While this can be true, there's an undercurrent of data that should be analyzed and used to help students figure out both “Is this a good fit for me?” And “am I a good fit for this school?”
What are you most excited about as you start your new job at Holderness?
I think I am most looking forward to really diving into the community as quickly as possible. I really am excited to come in mid-year when things are already up and happening and really get to know the students that I'll be working with, particularly the juniors. I know that this can be maybe some of the most stressful times for students. Hopefully I can really get to know them so I can help them through that process as much as possible. One of the things I loved most when learning about Holderness was that everyone is able to be involved with things beyond whatever their first line of their job is. I feel like sometimes you can get kind of siloed in companies or schools where you're only doing that one thing. I'm really excited to get involved in dorm duty, advising, and be a part of the community as soon as possible.