Educational Consultant Rebecca Claster

Rebecca Claster, Claster Educational Services

L ots of independent college counselors are familiar with an amazing number of colleges that you and I have never heard of, and Rebecca Claster of Claster Educational Services is certainly one of those. She also knows a lot about gap years, a fact that jibes with the healthy levelheadedness of her approach to college admissions counseling.

How did you get into this field?

I taught test prep and high school Social Studies before taking a 17-year detour into politics. I stayed involved in education through volunteer work, including some college counseling, and decided to make it my next career because I knew it would be fun, challenging, and rewarding.

What do you love about the work?

I love working with high school students, and I especially enjoy helping them manage a time of transition and figure out their paths.

Why do people hire you?

Parents are looking for expertise on a complex topic and someone who can calibrate to their child’s needs.  Sometimes that means pushing the student, sometimes the kid is hyper-motivated but is stressed out and needs reassurance. I think my clients would say I’m knowledgeable, professional and approachable, which is a good mix for college counseling.

How do you feel about study skills?

Success in school comes from a combination of intelligence and working hard, with other stuff sprinkled in, and study skills are one of those really important other things. They help students work smarter, not just harder. Some kids can get by without great study skills but strong ones will help every student, and for most kids study skills are central to reaching their academic potential.

What’s your favorite piece of advice to give students?

Keep an open mind and don’t be afraid to explore. In college counseling that could mean considering a college you’ve never heard of that might be a great fit, or taking a class that has nothing to do with what you’re planning to study.  It also means exploring yourself.  You might have a talent you’ve never had the opportunity to tap or an interest you haven’t had the chance to pursue.  High school and college are wonderful times to learn more about what’s out there and what you care about before you settle into a field of study or a career.

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