Kevin Parsons joined Blair’s faculty this summer as an associate dean of college counseling. During his 10-year career in the field of college admission and college counseling, he served on the admission teams at the University of Delaware, American University and Princeton University before switching to the counseling side of the desk. For the past two years, Mr. Parsons was a college counselor at the Academy of Notre Dame de Namur in Villanova, Pennsylvania, where he greatly enjoyed helping students find their best fit for higher education. He is excited to do the same for his counselees at Blair.
Mr. Parsons holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Marist College, and his experience as an undergraduate tour guide there and his many positive interactions with prospective students and families sparked his interest in college admission work. In 2011, he earned a master’s degree in education with a concentration in higher education administration from the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education.
A New Hampshire native, Mr. Parsons loves hiking and traveling. Thus far, he has climbed 46 of New Hampshire’s 48 4,000-foot mountains and visited more than 100 colleges and universities during his travels throughout the U.S. and abroad. Here, he shares some thoughts on his work as a college counselor, his hiking adventures and his new home at Blair.
Q. Having read thousands of applications as an admission officer at highly selective universities, what aspect(s) of an application helped you discern whether a candidate would be a good fit?
A. I always focused the most on personal qualities that a student displayed in his or her application. You can learn a surprising amount of meaningful information about a student’s personality and character from the way he or she writes an essay, the way a teacher writes about having him or her in class, or even the way a student briefly describes an activity. To me, students who display good moral character and a desire to engage with other students (both formally and informally) are those who will thrive the most in college, no matter where they enroll.
Q. As a college counselor, what do you enjoy most about working with students and their families at this juncture of their educational journeys?
A. I will always be a tour guide at heart. To me, working as a college counselor is sort of like being a tour guide through the confusing process of college admissions. I most enjoy helping students present their best selves in their applications and helping to reduce anxiety by giving students and parents clear information and perspective from someone who has spent most of his career reading the very same applications our students are preparing. I also love reading essays! My best guess is I’ve probably read well over 30,000 college essays in my career; that’s not something you do unless you love it! This has given me a lot of knowledge from experience that I greatly enjoy giving back to our students and families.
Q. What advice have you offered seniors this fall regarding virtual campus tours and virtual interviews?
A. This has been a really tough application season so far with the inability to travel to colleges and being forced to rely upon virtual experiences. We’re encouraging students to engage with college reps and ask questions whenever possible, as well as spend a lot of time on college websites and college social media pages to learn more about the schools. Nothing is like being there in person, but if you read with a critical eye, you can still discern a lot about what the school values, who it thinks it is, what kinds of students it believes will be the best fit, and many other important details.
Q. As an avid traveler and hiker, what have been some of your most adventurous and enjoyable trips?
A. This is a tough one! I grew up bicycling and hiking in New Hampshire with my father on a regular basis—even as an obstinate teenager who thinks anything his parents like to do is immediately horribly uncool—so I love mountains and the outdoors. One of the most fun things I’ve done recently was compete with a team of friends in the 200-mile Hood to Coast relay race from Mt. Hood to Seaside, Oregon. That was an experience I’ll never forget! And the most fun hike I’ve ever done was when my dad and I climbed Half Dome in Yosemite National Park. Yosemite is the most amazing place I’ve ever been.
Q. What are you most looking forward to as your first year at Blair unfolds?
A. I’m looking forward to jumping right into boarding school life. This year is a very different and challenging year because of the necessary health-and-safety restrictions due to the pandemic, but, on the other hand, I don’t know Blair any differently! That just means that if I can enjoy boarding school life this year—which I already am—I will likely enjoy it even more when life returns to some sense of normalcy in the future. I’m excited to continue to get to know our fantastic Blair students and to become a part of the Blair family. I love it here already!