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Meet an Admissions Counselor: Ian Fisher | College Coach Blog

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Every Thursday this summer, we are introducing college students and families to a different member of the particular University Coach admissions team . Drop in to see what we’re reading, where we visited school, and our strategies for beginning the college essay. As you work with us to find an educational consultant which best fits your needs or the needs of your child, we will help you think about the personality and working styles that will bring out the best in you or your student. Today we introduce Ian Fisher , who works with students both in our Palo Enorme office and remotely.

Where are you from?
Ian: I had been born and raised in Tempe, Arizona, but I feel like I absolutely grew up when I moved to Portland, Oregon.

Exactly where did you go to school?
Ian: Reed College and the Stanford Graduate College of Education.

What did you study?
Ian: At Reed I majored in philosophy, but studied many methods from economics to political science, mathematics, chemistry, and anthropology. My thesis was The Ethical Implications of Creating Life from Scratch. My graduate degree is in Policy, Organization, and Leadership Research, but I also found time from Stanford to take a class within the philosophy of film.

Where did a person work?
Ian: I served to get five years as a senior entrance officer at Reed.

What are you reading right now for fun?
Ian: Before They may be Hanged , by Joe Abercrombie and fitch france, which is the second book in the “First Law” series. Book one, The Blade Itself , was so good that I bought the next two without batting an eye. I am also trying desperately to cope up on my New Yorker subscription yet finding I’m always at least a month behind.

You have a free weekend and carte blanche to go anywhere and do something. What do you do?
Ian: I would take my loved ones to a cabin in the woods having a big, open lawn running down to a lake. We’d meet several of our closest friends there and spend the weekend reading, swimming, grilling, and relaxing.

What was your favorite matter about college?
Ian: Nobody to know me would expect me to express anything other than ultimate Frisbee, and I could not come up with a better answer, so generally there it is. The Frisbee team is how I met my closest buddies, it was how I created community from Reed and around Portland, and yes it was a way for me to challenge my physical limitations as much as the classes were challenging my intellectual ones. Ironic that my experience at Reed was in many methods defined a sport, given the institution’s categorical abstention from varsity athletics.

What about your college experience was totally different from what you expected?
Ian: I by no means expected it to be so hard . I thought I had been a pretty smart kid when I managed to graduate from high school, but I got in order to Reed and discovered how many brilliant minds are out there, and how a lot I have to learn from them. Reed was obviously a seriously humbling experience.

What’s your philosophy on college admission?
Ian: Don’t begin with a solution; begin with a question. Then, ask as much questions as you can. Stay as broad as possible for as long as possible. Give yourself as many options as you can conceive. Do research. Be open to discomfort. Try to see yourself everywhere you look. Try once again. Don’t marry yourself to one school too early in the process; if it’s actually your #1 choice, it’ll be there a month from now. Should you it all right, you’ll learn something regarding yourself along the way.

What aspect of the college admissions process do you most enjoy working on?
Ian: I love writing, and I like the writing process. I love helping college students conceive an essay idea that provides potential. I love the moment when a pupil realizes that something he believed was simple and normal is actually actually interesting and really special and will make for a terrific essay. And I like helping her write it, and talk through it, and edit it, until she loves this and it’s ready to be submitted.

What is the most common mistake you see from college students that can easily be fixed?
Ian: Too often, students try to choose the essay topic that fits their concept of what The College Essay (all capital letters) ought to be. When students let go of that conception and begin to be open to writing the idea that they are passionate about, they find the process comes a lot more easily.

How do you encourage students to look further than the schools they know to get hidden gems?
Ian: Visit as much schools within two hours generating as you can, without ruling any away. See a big one and a little one; an urban one along with a rural one. Track what you like and that which you don’t like by taking notes along the way. At the end of a few visits, you’ll get a sense of the kind of place you are looking for, and your search will be easier.

Exactly what in your mind makes a good college essay?
Ian: A good essay gets directly to the point. It has a clear arc. It really is written with openness and representation and humility. After reading this, I know as much about who you are as what you do.

What are some important things you’ve discovered during your time as a College Trainer educator?
Ian: So much! The team is really great at throwing out different ideas and perspectives, at providing me new strategies for working with different kinds of students with different organizational processes, with teaching me about the wide range of the college experience.

What would you say to your high school self if you could coach them through the process?
Ian: Just because it’s not on a Top 10 list doesn’t imply it can’t be great. Search for somewhere small with a compelling local community and pay no attention to the bright lights; there’s plenty of time to catch up to those in grad school. And most importantly: you don’t know it all, dude.



Ian Fisher is a member of College Coach’s team of college admissions experts . Ian received his master’s in policy, organization, and management studies from the Stanford Graduate College of Education. Prior to joining University Coach, Ian worked as a mature admissions officer at Reed University.

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