Second Act: Going Solo

June 05, 2013

High-school guidance counselor Susan Case launches a thriving college prep consultancy in retirement

Susan Case MEd '75, Counseling; CAGS '81, School Psychology. Photo by Rick Friedman.

 

Choosing a college can be an exciting time for a high-school student. But that feeling of excitement can quickly turn to stress, as the pressure to choose the right school and navigate the admissions process can overwhelm students and their parents. What’s more, college is a significant investment, adding even more pressure to “get it right.”

That’s where college preparatory counselor Susan Case comes in. She not only helps students and their families find colleges that suit their needs, but also assists with all the related planning, applications, financial aid evaluation, and numerous details that are part of the college selection and application process.

Case channeled years of experience as a high-school guidance counselor and private-school college counselor into a new career for herself as an independent college prep counselor. Each year, she helps 30 juniors and 30 seniors and their parents navigate the college selection and application process. Case has made it her mission to bring the quality of college prep counseling found mainly in private schools to public-school students.

Reflecting on the benefits of her own education, Case says, “After completing the CAGS, I realized that school psychology wasn’t for me. School psychologists spend too much of their time testing, and I was not going to be excited about that.

“…I love the knowledge that I acquired through the program at Northeastern. My education helped me understand students with learning disabilities, anxiety, and depression—some of the issues that frequently characterize adolescents.”

But I love the knowledge that I acquired through the program at Northeastern. My education helped me understand students with learning disabilities, anxiety, and depression—some of the issues that frequently characterize adolescents.”

Case began her career as a guidance counselor at Stoneham High School in Massachusetts. After 10 years in that public school, she was recruited by Milton Academy to become the private school’s specialist in college prep counseling, where she amassed valuable experience that would drive her next career move.

“Private school was a totally new experience for me,” explains Case. “At Milton Academy, I had a great mentor and talented colleagues from whom I learned so much. I eventually became head of the department.”

However, with added responsibility came 50-hour workweeks. Eventually, she traded in the long hours to become her own boss.

“I resigned, but I knew that I wasn’t ready to be retired,” recalls Case. “So I decided to try my hand at my own business. I imagined a small home-office business, but very quickly it just took off. Within a year or so, I had my own office outside of the house, and I was turning people away. College advising is a particularly hot ‑field right now.”

Counseling Those Who Need It Most

Case is committed to helping students and families of modest means as well. Each year, she provides pro-bono counseling services to students in Wellesley High School’s A Better Chance (ABC) program (http://www.wellesleyabc.org), in which academically talented teenaged scholars from disadvantaged communities attend Wellesley High School and live together in the Wellesley ABC Resident Scholar House.

Case also works with Crossroads for Kids (http://www.crossroads4kids.org), an organization that describes its mission as “inspiring at-risk youth to develop their innate potential to become members of the next generation of diverse young leaders.” Crossroads offers a unique combination of immersive summer camp and year-round mentoring (including college prep counseling) and enrichment programs for youth ages 7 to 18. The group focuses on guiding these students toward academic success, higher education, meaningful careers, and responsible citizenship.­


Northeastern University’s College of Professional Studies (CPS) is committed to providing career-focused educational programs that are designed to accommodate the complex lives of motivated learners. Offered in a variety of innovative formats, CPS courses are taught by accomplished scholars and practitioners who have real-world experience. The result is an educational experience founded on proven scholarship, strengthened with practical application, and sustained by academic excellence.

Founded in 1898, Northeastern is a comprehensive, global research university. The university offers more than 80 undergraduate majors and more than 165 graduate programs, ranging from professional master’s degrees to interdisciplinary PhD programs. Northeastern’s research enterprise is aligned with three national imperatives: health, security and sustainability. Northeastern students participate in co-op and other forms of experiential learning in 90 countries on all seven continents.