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Meet Tara Dowling

Tara Dowling
Rocky Hill School, East Greenwich (RI)

Editor's Note: Tara will be a speaker at the new NACAC preconference workshop, "Fundamentals of Recruiting and Counseling International Students," this September in Boston. Learn more and register now!

How did you become the Director of College Counseling at Rocky Hill School? What got you interested in counseling?

How indeed?  I took the long road from international admission counseling to college counseling in the US, took a left at the Anglo-American school of Moscow, detoured to Istanbul, followed my entrepreneurial spirit to consulting in China, and let my heart take me back to my husband and family in New England.

How does NACAC play a role in your career? 

How does it NOT?  Knowledge, networking, and news!  From the listserv which was a staple of my existence as a newbie in the mid-1980s, to conference attendance and soon-to-be presenting, from the SPGP to the Journal, NACAC is part of the fabric of my professional life. I am also committed to being a part of my regional associations.

Do you have any advice for professionals who are new to the field?

Belong to your regional association at the very least. Don’t be a lurker on social media or in professional gatherings—step right up and say your piece or ask a question! Find mentors on both sides of the desk. Admission people --seek to listen before you present.  College counselors --do anything you can to meet with students at least once face-to-face. Listen!

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing counselors today?

The cost of higher education.  Finding a financial fit.

Any social media accounts you want people to follow:  

Follow only as much as you can swallow.  Follow news from different sources. Follow heroes and comedians, politicians and pundits. Professional associations—all the ACACs, The Chronicle of Higher Ed, Inside Higher Ed, and The College Essay Guy.  Common App, College Board, Maia Learning.  On Facebook, for sure the College Counselor page, Counselors for Reforming College Admission, and Maia Learning School Counselor page – full disclosure— I am an active member and contributor to all of these!

When you aren’t working, what do you like to do?

I work a lot. I spend time with my parents, husband, four brothers, nine nephews and one niece. I like to work on side projects, such as interesting and innovative educational endeavors and technology. I keep up with friends and former students on social media.  I’d like to read more, mostly non-fiction. 

If you could be any fictional character, who would it be and why?

Sherlock Holmes.  I want to be super smart and use my intuition as well. I am already a sort of detective as a college counselor.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

I would like to apologize to all the people I may have offended over the years with my extreme bluntness.  I swear it comes from a place of good intention.

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