Meet Julia Varriale

Julia Varriale headshotJulia Varriale
Distinguished Instructor, UCLA Extension
Co-Leader of the College Admission Counseling Graduate Coursework SIG

What drew you to the world of college admission?
I was a geography major as an undergraduate, and the demographer in me was interested in college admission enrollment trends, so when I was studying for my master’s in higher education administration at Boston College (MA), I focused my studies on admission and enrollment trends, supplementing my Boston College education with attendance at the Harvard Summer Institute in 2001 and 2003, the NEACAC Summer Workshop in 2001, and enrollment in the UCLA Extension College Counseling Certificate Program (because there were no classes focused on admission in the Boston College program).

What is your favorite part of the job?
I adore teaching in the UCLA Extension program. My (online) students are located all over the world; they can be public high school counselors, private school counselors, international counselors, independent consultants, access counselors, military advisers, test prep professionals, tutors, teachers, and the occasional admission officer and financial aid officer. I teach from the college-side perspective, so I always enjoy having another admission voice in the “room.” This variety in backgrounds and perspectives leads to some of the richest conversations to be had on the admission process and issues that affect our students and our day-to-day work.

How did you get involved with the College Admission Counseling Graduate Coursework SIG?
I teach in the UCLA Extension program, a 30-credit program devoted to the topic of college counseling.  It was a natural draw for me. 

Why is this SIG important to you?
Very few school counseling graduate programs devote adequate time and attention to college counseling, yet it is a major cause of stress for many of their students. We need to continue advocating for more coursework dedicated to the college process in school counseling programs.

Why should counselors and admission professionals get involved with a NACAC SIG?
NACAC is unique in how it brings our various voices to the table. We all need to be heard. YOU need to be heard. Whatever your interest, there’s likely a SIG for you. Get involved.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing our profession today?
Ask me that again after May 1, but the more immediate response is probably the changing sociodemographics of the majority of students heading to college these days and dropping high school graduation rates in many states. These changes affect all sides of the desk, and affect how we recruit, how we guide and help students in the college process, and how we help them once on campus.

When you aren’t working, what do you like to do?
Outside of my UCLA online classrooms, I try to power walk daily and take Pilates reformer classes several days a week. I try to avoid housework whenever possible, and in my spare time, I enjoy reading and cuddling kittens for pleasure. I live outside of Boston with my husband and am blessed with having our daughter and her family living nearby. My joy is spending time with family and watching my grandchildren grow.

If you could be any fictional character, who would it be and why?
Well, I read a book or two a week, and I read by author and often can’t tell you the title of the book I’m reading because it’s just the next one in the series. I’m currently very fond of JJ Marsh’s Beatrice Stubbs books.  I like Beatrice because she’s closer to my age than many main characters, she’s smart and complex, and her work as a detective inspector with Scotland Yard (and later as a private detective) sends her to some wonderful locations.

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