Christ Church Episcopal School experiences have prepared graduating seniors for whatever comes next and to make a positive difference in the world. Each week beginning after Spring Break, we will put the spotlight on a graduating senior from the Class of 2019. But first, we’d like you to get to know the people behind these incredible students and their college journeys, our CCES College Counselors.
Mr. Sides joined the College Counseling team in 2015 following seven years of experience in college admissions at Furman University and the University of Georgia. He received his BA in Communication Studies and Sociology from Furman University, his MA in Management from Wake Forest University, and currently serves on the board of the Southern Association for College Admission Counseling (SACAC), is a member of the College Board’s South Carolina Counselor Advisory Board, and co-chairs the Upstate South Carolina NACAC College Fair local planning committee.
Q: Why did you choose this as a career path?
A: The summer after my sophomore year at Furman, I secured an internship in the Admission Office and continued to work as a student assistant for my remaining two years. Upon moving to Athens, Georgia so my wife Katarina could start graduate school, I applied for a position at UGA as a Admissions Counselor. “Sure, I could do that,” I thought. “Eleven years later, I’m still here!"
Q: What unique role do you think CCES college counselors play in supporting students’ college readiness?
A: We ask a lot of questions. I’ve learned that students’ true feelings lie just beneath any initial responses so I ask a lot of “Why?” questions. In fact, I start during the junior year by asking “Why do you want to go to college?” If students have a strong idea of why college, why THIS college, and why should this college admit ME, I think they’ll be much more successful in the process. We’re fortunate to have a lot of time, accessibility, and rapport with students to be able to ask these questions.
Q: How do you go about establishing partnerships with colleges and universities, and how do these partnerships affect our students?
A: Beyond the traditional calls and emails with our representatives, we forge a lot of true friendships with our representatives. In many instances, we’ve even previously worked with individuals on the college side, whether we worked at the same institution or simply stood next to them frequently at college fairs! It’s not unusual for me to text a question to one of our representatives or maybe even wish them happy birthday on Facebook. Through these partnerships, we’re able to learn more about the school and its process and representatives learn more about CCES and its students.
Q: For the student that has trouble making decisions and narrowing down where to apply, do you have any specific advice?
A: Visit! This is typically an easy way to narrow down the hunt. Getting on campus is essential and may be the most important part of applying to college. As an adult, would you ever buy a house without seeing it? Would you ever buy a car without test driving it? College should be treated the same way if not with more diligence and “kicking the tires”!
JUST FOR FUN!
What is one of your hidden talents? Though I’d probably be a little rusty now, I play the piano and trombone.
How do you spend your summer breaks? Working! (which also surprises students to know that we’re available year round!) I love taking a few weeks of vacation to sneak away to Kiawah Island and 30-A!
What accomplishment fills you with pride so far this year? I’m a part of Leadership Greenville Class 45 and have thoroughly enjoyed every moment!
What can you cook to perfection? A burger (I also make a really great banana pudding though there’s no cooking involved)
If you could travel back in time and visit your younger self, what grade would you go back to and why? I’d go back to 7th grade and tell myself to avoid the slippery mud next to the carpool line. I slipped and fell face first into it one morning on the way into school...