Meet Barbara Rapaport

Barbara RapaportBarbara Rapaport
Independent Educational Consultant
Rapaport Consulting (NJ)
Co-leader of the Performing Arts SIG

What drew you to the world of college counseling?
I enjoy working with and advising teens—that’s what drew me to college counseling and what keeps me engaged. It was my work with the homeschooling community that initially led me to seek a career in college counseling. After almost twenty years of homeschooling my own three children and mentoring scores of homeschooling families, college counseling was a natural next step for me. Twenty years ago, there weren’t a lot of families homeschooling through high school or a lot of knowledgeable people to guide them through the process, so when my oldest child was in high school, we had to forge our own path. Homeschool families have the luxury of designing a unique curriculum tailored to an individual student’s interests and strengths, and the challenge of documenting that learning on a student’s college applications. When my oldest entered college, other homeschoolers started asking how we did it, and I became the local expert. Seven years later, when my youngest was about to enter college, I decided to make it official, earned the UCLA certificate in college counseling, and opened my practice. Now I have the privilege of working with all types of students with different educational backgrounds, from students whose “classroom” is a sailboat to those who attend a more traditional brick-and-mortar school.

What is your favorite part of the job?
I work with a number of students who start out thinking college isn’t possible, either because they didn’t have stellar grades in high school so don’t think of themselves as smart enough, or because family finances are such that tuition and fees seem an insurmountable hurdle. My happiest days are when I can help a student realize that they are not defined by their grades and/or help them find an affordable option for a good-fit postsecondary education.

How did you get involved with the Performing Arts SIG?
I was a member of the Music SIG when Amy Goldin, that SIG’s leader, was looking for ways to reach more people. I offered to help. We decided to broaden the scope to include all of the performing arts and the Performing Arts SIG was born. For those who don’t know, our mission is to create a network of NACAC members and other interested individuals who are concerned about the issues of performing arts students as they relate to the college prep, application, and admission processes, as well as their experiences on college campuses. We seek to provide a space to discuss, advocate, and support matters directly related to performing arts admission and performing arts education, including, but not limited to, programs in all aspects of music, dance, theater, and film. I’m happy to say that we’ve grown from a handful to over 230 members.

Why is this SIG important to you?
On a personal level, those three kids I homeschooled all went on to college to study the performing arts—opera, theatrer, and music composition—so supporting arts education and performing artists is near and dear to my heart. On a more philosophical level, artists are a crucial piece of our culture; they reflect on where we’ve been, chronicle where we are, and offer hope for how we can move forward. Yet we live at a time when STEM reigns supreme, arts funding is usually the first to be slashed in the K-12 sphere, and humanities majors are often the first to be cut when a liberal arts college faces hard financial times. We need our artists as much as we need our STEM students, not just to elevate and inform our cultural consciousness, but to contribute creative solutions to challenging problems. Consequently, one of the goals I have for the SIG is to help us advocate for arts education.

Why should counselors and admission professionals get involved with a NACAC SIG?
NACAC SIGs are a perfect space for education and collaboration among high school counselors, independent counselors, and college admission professionals. Our Performing Arts SIG Facebook group is a very welcoming community. We’ve addressed basic questions about the differences in the application process for BA/BFA/BMus students, announced new college programs and scholarship opportunities, posted informative articles, and shared our favorite pieces of music. Our in-person meetings at the annual conference are an added bonus—I love to meet and continue conversations with colleagues I’ve met via our Facebook group.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing our profession today?
The inequity of educational opportunity and access to resources is our biggest challenge, and even more so for performing arts students. The basic college application process is already complicated and stressful, but when you add the earlier timeline for pre-screening videos/recordings and the cost of private lessons for audition preparation, the playing field is even more unbalanced. One of the many reasons I’m proud to serve on HECA’s Board of Directors is our recent unanimous decision to create an Equity and Access Committee chair position on the board. The chair is charged with managing our Equity and Access initiatives and ensuring that equity and access is a continued HECA priority. We all recognize that we have a long way to go, as a profession and as an association, but I’m encouraged that we’re heading in the right direction.

When you aren’t working, what do you like to do?
Probably not surprisingly, I take every opportunity I can to see dance and music concerts, theater, and film. I also love to coach high school mock trial.

If you could be any fictional character, who would it be and why?
Interesting question! I think most worthwhile fictional characters have overcome challenges I wouldn’t want to face, so I’d prefer to think about which fictional character I’d like to meet, and that would be Kya from Where the Crawdads Sing. Despite seemingly insurmountable odds, Kya manages to survive, thrive, and create art. She is the epitome of an autodidact. I want to know what kept her going in her darkest days, and I’d love to see her drawings and paintings.

Expand / Collapse All