Randolf Arguelles
Co-Director of College Counseling
Drew School (CA)

What drew you to the world of college admission counseling?
In a former life, I was going to be a professor of Asian American history, but after a falling out with the professor who was my doctoral advisor, I left academia with master’s degree in hand and returned to my hometown of San Francisco to start a tutoring center that provided SAT/ACT test preparation, academic tutoring, and college counseling. Instead of teaching at a college, I was helping students gain admission to college, and that turned out to be just as personally meaningful to me. A year after I started my business, I signed up to be an external reader of freshman applications to my alma mater, UC Berkeley. I did that for eight application cycles and learned a ton about holistic review.

When the pandemic hit and the University of California no longer required the SAT/ACT, I had to close my business. I learned about a job opening for co-director of college counseling at Drew School. I applied, and fortunately they hired me! I know the usual direction is to go from school-based counselor to IEC, but my path was the opposite. I very much enjoy being able to advocate for my students from within a high school and through my letters of recommendation.

What is your favorite part of the job?
Meeting with students and learning about their passions and dreams.

How has NACAC played a role in your career?
The NACAC national conference has been one of the greatest networking resources in my career. Since joining, I have organized and moderated education session panels at five different national conferences: Pittsburgh (2006), Denver (2012), Boston (2017), Minneapolis (2020), and Baltimore (2023). The friendships and professional connections I have made with my fellow panelists and attendees at the national conferences have been invaluable, and I always learn something new at NACAC, both at the conference itself and on the counselor tours of the local colleges and universities.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing our profession today?

The cost of a college education. I have had too many students tell me that they could not attend a school that they loved and were admitted to because their family could not afford to pay the tuition or because they didn’t receive sufficient financial aid to make attending that school affordable.

When you aren’t working, what do you like to do?
I like to play piano. Jazz, mostly, but I’m also currently playing in an ‘80s cover band called Dirty Spoon, which means I get to break out all of these vintage ‘80s synthesizer and Fender Rhodes patches in our sets. With my family, I enjoy snowboarding and go-kart racing with my sons and taking walks with my wife and our dog, Juno.

If you could be any fictional character, who would it be and why?
Neo from The Matrix movies. Because there is no spoon.


Published May 20, 2024