Meet Marcia Landesman

Marcia Landesman
Director of College Counseling
Choate Rosemary Hall (CT)

 What drew you to the counseling field?
My first job out of college was as an assistant dean of admission for my alma mater, Swarthmore College. I had worked in the office as a student – filing application documents, leading tours – and it seemed like a great way to help shape the future of the college I loved so much. After two years at Swarthmore, I switched gears, heading off to NYU Law and subsequently practicing corporate law at very large Manhattan law firms for about five years. After having my first child and recognizing my growing discontentment with the corporate world, I decided to return to higher education and joined the Yale admissions office in 2001, thinking it would be a brief stint while I figured out what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. That “brief stint” turned into a 12-year gig. I had found my calling! I had the privilege to work with exceptional colleagues and students, and I loved every aspect of my work there. I made the move to college counseling at Choate Rosemary Hall about six years ago, and it’s been very rewarding. I appreciate the longer, sustained working relationship with students and families, and I enjoy being part of a vibrant secondary school community.

What is your favorite part of the job?
I love the small moments of this work. For example, a handwritten thank you note from a student even before admission decisions are released makes it all worthwhile.

How has NACAC played a role in your career?
Being a member of NACAC was extremely beneficial when I made the move from undergraduate admission to secondary school counseling. After 14 years working in highly selective college admission, I had depth of experience but not a lot of breadth. I am grateful to NACAC colleagues who were there to answer questions, provide guidance, and offer support. I learned – and continue to learn - so much from attending sessions at NACAC conferences.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing our profession today?
The risk of being siloed. I thought I knew a lot about college counseling until I actually became a counselor! Why is it that many of us in the field confess that the best professional development is having a child or close relative go through the college search and application process? The more we understand each other’s point of view, the more we experience each other’s realities, the better we can do our work supporting our students and institutions. Empathy and understanding are critical to our profession.

When you aren’t working, what do you like to do?
I love going to the theater. I also enjoy hiking and spending time with my family. As the parent of a college freshman, I particularly value the time when we are all together.

If you could be any fictional character, who would it be and why?
I don’t spend a lot of time wishing I were somebody else, but since I adore musical theater, I think I’ll go with “Star to Be” from Annie. It’s a tiny part – she sings a few memorable lines in just one song – but she represents hope, aspiration, and possibility, balanced with a healthy dose of reality. I think that’s a good metaphor for what we all do in our work with students.

Describe yourself in five words.
Analytical, loyal, optimistic, confident, curious



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