Confidence, Camp and College Admissions

March 27, 2011 at 7:50 pm Leave a comment

posted by Zach Galin ’10, education consultant

In my recent move to Madison, WI (my office view overlooks the capitol and the protests), I decided to take my education business with me.  I noticed that for a relatively well-educated area, there was a lack of personal education consultants.  I use this broad term to capture the work of tutors, as well as college admissions consultants, special education advocates, school choice consultants, etc.  Perhaps the competitive environment in my native New York provided a larger market need for these services.  But as Wisconsin grows its school choice and virtual school programs, and as the university system faces huge budget cuts, rising tuition, and increase competition from out-of-state applicants, the need is growing.

For many years, I have been working with children in summer camp and in the college admissions process.  On the surface, the two seem to be very different ways of interacting with children and adolescents.  What they have in common is their connection to a child’s self-esteem and confidence.  Camp (in my opinion, the ultimate progressive education experience) provides children with a variety of ways to build their confidence – from athletics and water activities to arts and nature.  The competence and confidence that a child builds in camp is rarely transferred to the traditional school setting.  But, these students typically excel in their leadership, volunteer, and interpersonal experiences, all of which could be overlooked in the traditional college application.

This is where my business comes in.  We work with students so they can better understand themselves and where they want to be in the near future.  We help the student look back at his/her experiences and draw some conclusions about potential areas of study in college and preferred settings for college.  Then comes the confidence piece.  Every applicant has had a unique childhood that has shaped who s/he has become.  The college application process is the vehicle (albeit a superficial one) for sharing experiences, personality, and values with an admissions office.  It is also the way applicants can prove they are a “good fit” for the college.

While I’ve seen this confidence-boosting approach at work in summer camps, I never formally studied or understood what exactly we were doing… until my Bank Street education.  Finally, an institution proved to me that the inquiry-based, child-centered features of a summer camp are, in fact, essential in the traditional school setting.  My education invigorated my passion for working with children in both the camp setting and through the college application process.  Additionally, it has helped me expand my business into new ventures – special education and school choice.  We now work with families to advocate on behalf of a child who may have a special need.  We also help families in their choice of school (both physical and virtual) for their children.  All of our services revolve around the student and his or her needs, interests, and unique qualities.

Zach Galin is the founder of Galin Education (, an education consulting business that provides services for students, families, and organizations and is based in Madison, WI.  He has previously been middle school teacher in NYC, program director at an overnight camp, and director of an education services center.  Zach graduated from Bank Street in 2010 and served as the Student Associate Trustee on the college’s Board of Trustees.

Entry filed under: coaching, collaboration, families.

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