The unsung heroes of the college application process


Nick Lupinacci

Behind the scenes of Mr. Patrick Brett’s exhausting college application process

TOWAMENCIN – Seniors aren’t the only ones under pressure during the college application season. Many of our guidance office faculty and staff also have major responsibilities in helping approximately 600 seniors apply for college every year. 

Mr. Patrick Brett is the future plans counselor at North Penn. It’s his full-time job to help North Penn students figure out what they are going to do after high school and how to pursue those goals. He makes sure students are aware of how the college application process works and of the deadlines associated with the process. 

Mr. Brandon Turner, Ms. Amy Holder Cantor, and Ms. Taylor Esher are the 3 senior guidance counselors this year. They are each helping roughly 200 students navigate the college application process. They write letters of recommendation for individual students and help students choose the schools to which they’d like to apply.

Mrs. Joanne Borchers, the transcript secretary in the guidance office, is responsible for making sure all the required documentation is handled properly, so the guidance counselors can focus on writing letters and advising students. She  makes sure that the North Penn seniors follow the process the high school has established to manage the “paperwork” of the college application process, like entering all of their potential colleges in Scoir and signing the release of records forms. 

The busiest season for these guidance office employees is from September to November when the early action deadline for most colleges passes. There is another smaller burst of activity as the January/early February regular decision deadline approaches. During the busy season, the guidance counselors write about 150 letters of recommendation on top of meeting with a steady stream of students in their offices. Mrs. Borchers estimates that prior to the November 1st early action deadline, she processes 50 transcripts a day.  About 15 to 20 kids a day pop into Mr. Brett’s office to ask questions regarding schools they are interested in or how to do something. 

I have students pop in every period of the day. I have students pop in after school and during the lunch period. I have students pop in for a 30 second question, or I could have students pop in for an entire period

— Mr. Pat Brett

“I have students pop in every period of the day. I have students pop in after school and during the lunch period. I have students pop in for a 30 second question, or I could have students pop in for an entire period,” Brett explained. 

Turner, Brett, and Borchers agree that what makes the busy periods easier is the seniors who take ownership of the process, read the materials the guidance office sends out, and follow directions. The process is harder for the guidance office when students don’t follow the directions or are confused about what they are supposed to do and what the guidance office does. Mr. Turner says North Penn’s reputation also helps make the process easier.  

“Because we’re a big school and we have so many successful students, a lot of colleges are willing to work with us however they can because they want our kids to keep applying,” Turner said.

Borchers says her favorite part of working on the college application process is helping the students get what they need and helping them feel less nervous about the process.  Turner and Brett both enjoy seeing the joy on the students faces when they come by to tell them they got into a college they wanted.

Turner manages the stress by trying to plan ahead and proactively letting kids know how much time he needs. Borchers and Brett cope with the pressure of the college application season by trying to stay calm and encouraging everyone to be patient.  

”I just try to make things as smooth and friendly as possible,” Borchers said. 

North Penn seniors are grateful for our hardworking guidance department and the role they play in helping us prepare for our futures.