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Features

Volume 65 Number 2

Getting to know college counseling expert Bruce Poch

by Lindsey Waller - 2014-11-20

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Dean of Admission and Executive Director of College Counseling Bruce Poch, or as he calls himself the “Dean of comings and goings” also works as an unofficial correspondent, regarding questions of college admissions for many well known publications. Poch has been cited and or published by Harvard University Press, Newsweek, Business Week, The Washington Post, The Chronicle of Higher Education, The New York Times, and National Public Radio Online among others. Poch said that he probably became such a frequent correspondent because he answered calls because it was earlier on the West Coast, and he answers questions in a direct way. Poch not only responds to questions from reporters, but he has also been featured as a guest writer on The New York Time’s Choice Blog, and he has written op-ed pieces. He was recently contacted by CNBC. Poch serves as an expert on college admissions and financial aid and opportunity in the college admissions process.

Poch attended Oberlin College, earning a bachelor of arts degree in English and Government, then Harvard University, earning a master of education degree in Social Policy and Planning. Before joining the Chadwick community, he had established 35 years of experience in the college admissions domain. He worked for a year as an Assistant Director of Admissions at Connecticut College, then spent nearly eight years working as an Associate Dean of Admissions at Wesleyan University, and finally he spent more than twenty-three years at Pomona College, fifteen of which were spent as the Vice President Dean of Admissions and the other eight were spent as the Dean of Admissions. Poch said that he enjoyed his work in admissions because he “believes in the process. It is very idealistic I suppose, but, current students, you are what we are leaving behind.”

According to Poch, he visited a few thousand high schools across the country over the course of his career. Until Chadwick, Poch had always viewed college admissions through the lense of of a college rather than the lense of a high school student. Initially, he intended to work for Chadwick temporarily to fill the position of a college counselor who left the school. After his first year, however, he decided to continue working for Chadwick: “Because of the relationships with people in [the college counseling] office, Mr. Hill, Mr. Wiedenmann, et cetera, I enjoyed it and I guess they enjoyed me enough to create this larger job for me.” Headmaster Ted Hill created a job for Poch that capitalizes on his skills and experience as Poch works with college counseling and with Chadwick admissions. Poch said that he likes working at Chadwick because the faculty and administrators are open-minded and willing to experiment rather than being confined by doing things the way they have always been done: “There are good, smart people around here who are thinking not just about Chadwick, but Chadwick’s place in education,” he said.

Immediately before working at Chadwick, Poch worked in policy making with organizations like the College Board, the National Association of College Admission Counseling and, the Education Conservancy, and the Consortium on Financing Higher Education through board positions at Questbridge and the Center for Student Opportunity. Bruce has worked to bring the opportunity to receive higher education regardless of socioeconomic status, race, or other factors: “I really like finding ways to give kids a chance, particularly when they didn’t even see it in themselves... I always liked the door-opening side more than the door-closing side.” Poch said. His alma mater, Oberlin College, was the first college in the United States to integrate African American and Caucasian students. Through his work with these scholarship organizations, Poch says he has realized how diverse the Admissions staff of many colleges have become: “Deans and Directors of Admissions at some of the most selective colleges in the country were the first in their family to go to college… The assumption that all admissions officers are, sort of, boarding school preppy is just false… if you would look at some of my staffs over the years you would wonder how we could be in the same room together because we were so different, which was fun.”

As for the future, Poch says that his next big step may be retirement, but for now he feels content and engaged with his work at Chadwick.


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dean, poch, admission, college, counseling, education, because, chadwick, year, spent, working, work, school, student


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