Lara Sandora
Lead & College Counselor
TIDE Academy (CA)

What drew you to the world of college admission counseling?
As a student at Rice University (TX), I worked in the admissions office. I did anything and everything that Tamara Siler, Eric Heineman, and the rest of the team asked me to do: opened mail (yes, mail); answered phones; gave tours; stuffed envelopes; planned events; went to college fairs; and as a senior, read applications. After graduating, I joined Teach for America and have spent the past 26 years in public high schools, working as a teacher, school counselor, and now college counselor. So I guess it was always part of my path.

What is your favorite part of the job?
The part of the work that resonates with me most is helping students find their path. Some come in with a pretty clear idea of what they want to do, and they just need a little bit of guidance. Others need help piecing it all together. I like helping students find something that works for them.

How has NACAC played a role in your career?
NACAC has been a source of connection and community for me — especially important as I work as the only college counselor at my small public school.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing our profession today?
I have an especially unique perspective on this question this year, as I am the parent of a high school senior. There is a vicious cycle of too many students submitting too many applications to too many schools. This overwhelms our college admissions colleagues and drives acceptance rates down, which then causes the next cohort of students to over-apply even more so. I think unwinding this will take an overhaul to help students and schools find better matches and will reduce unnecessary stress for students and families, as well as for secondary and postsecondary staff.

When you aren’t working, what do you like to do?
I love good food, traveling — especially if it involves the ocean — and spending time with my family and friends.

What five words would you use to describe yourself?
Flexible, organized, enthusiastic, community-minded, and persistent.


Published May 27, 2024