Port counselors seek to help students, parents with college admissions

Amelia Camurati
Co-authors Jamie Reich, left, and Wesley Berkowitz recently released "The Book of Answers: The Expert's Guide To Navigating College Admissions." (Photos courtesy of Reich and Berkowitz)

A former school counselor and an independent adviser paired up to write a book breaking down the college admissions process and answering questions in a simple format.

Jamie Reich, a Roslyn native now living in Port Washington, and Wesley Berkowitz, also of Port Washington, last month released “The Book of Answers: The Expert’s Guide To Navigating College Admissions” on Amazon, and this week it was picked up by Barnes and Noble.

Berkowitz, a 33-year school counselor for the Wheatley School before his retirement in 2012, said he originally met Reich through her four children at the school and, after he retired, the two met for lunch and began formulating a list of questions commonly asked by students and parents about the college admissions process.

“These people don’t have the answers they need to have,” Reich said. “All the books are 300, 400, 500 pages, and who’s sitting down to read that when they’re barely getting through the admissions process?”

Reich said in their guide, all of the information is presented in a question-and-answer format laid out in the table of contents so when a question arrises an answer can easily be found.

As an independent adviser and an adviser for Preminente College Counseling, Reich said in her 14 years on the job she has seen the toll a stressful process can take on students and parents. Reich has a bachelor’s degree in psychology, sociology and education from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, as well as a master’s degree in school counseling from Hofstra University as well as a professional diploma in marriage and family therapy from Hofstra, and she said she can easily relate to all parties in the process.

“It’s a very competitive process, and it produces a tremendous amount of anxiety for not only the student but also for the parents as well as between the parents and students, so for me, I kind of wear both hats in every session with my students,” Reich said. “I love what I do every single day of my life. I think it is the greatest thing to come into people’s lives at this stage when there’s so much in front of them. The process can be daunting, but I help take the anxiety out of the process.”

Berkowitz said one piece of advice he gave all his students is that colleges are interested in the whole four years of high school, not just junior and senior year. However, cramming as many Advanced Placement courses and extracurricular activities into a schedule can also beharmful.

“If you have any issues or concerns, there are options,” Berkowitz said. “Don’t feel you have to have 6 AP courses your senior year with perfect scores and 10,000 activities to get into Harvard. There are no guarantees, but you do the best you can without putting yourself in the position of being overwhelmed.”

Reich said she works with students to plan out all of high school, including courses, clubs, community service, leadership positions and summer programs, so students can show a well-rounded résumé to prospective colleges.

“The most important thing is I want things that are going to give you life experience that will make you a better you,” Reich said. “The bonus is that it looks good on the résumé, but the most important thing is that it gives you life experience, it gives you exposure to new things and that’s what’s going to make you the best person you can be.”

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