Maureen Morris ’18 sat down with LH guidance counselor, Mrs. Fracker, on February 14th, 2018 to discuss her path to Lauralton, student stress levels, and the college application process of the 2017-2018 school year.
What exactly is your job title and description?
Fracker: My job title is college counselor, and that encompasses lots of varied responsibilities. I teach seminars to juniors and seniors, so I kind of help them navigate the college process. I also see students on an individual basis, I run Career Day. I’m always available for crises, or just general talks, visits, and chats. Lots of fun things! Never the same thing… always different day to day.
How long have you been working at Lauralton?
Fracker: I’ve been working at Lauralton since 2001, so I’m going on my 17th year here.
How did you end up here? What drew you to Lauralton?
Fracker: So, I was in graduate school at Fairfield University, and I was coming to the end, ready to graduate, and they announced that Lauralton Hall in Milford, Connecticut was looking for a counselor. I took the name and number and came to interview. When I drove up to campus, I was blown away by the beauty; I had never been to Lauralton even though I lived not far from here. I was drawn by the beauty of the campus and the buildings. I came in and loved Mrs. Pratson immediately. She was the one who interviewed me. You probably don’t remember her, because she retired a few years back.
No I don’t.
Fracker: I met with Ann Pratson, who was the Principal at the time, and I just felt that this was a very kind and gentle place. They offered me the job, and I knew I wanted to come here. I had been interviewing at other places, but I just got that feeling that this was the right fit.
Had you known about Lauralton before hearing that they were looking for counselors?
Fracker: I knew Lauralton Hall was in Milford, but I was not familiar with Lauralton much beyond that.
Have you found that the general issues of the student body have changed as you’ve spent time here, or have they mostly remained consistent?
Fracker: I think the issues of today, the issues of yesterday, the issues of tomorrow – past, present, future – are all fundamentally the same, but perhaps, with the advent of all this technology…
That’s what I was thinking…
Fracker: Yeah, it has kind of put a spin on certain situations. You know, a student applying to college 17 years ago was applying via pen and paper, and now they’re all electronic. In that respect, things have changed, but ultimately, we’re still always searching for the right fit. So, it kind of all goes back to that.
Generally, what is the most common worry or problem that students will come to you with? Is there any one that is the most popular?
Fracker: I do get students that come stressed out about tests or papers or projects, or college certainly. [However], because I do college counseling with juniors and seniors, I think they have navigated much of the homework and test situation. They kind of know at this point. It’s more of a maturity process as well. So I think the #1 stress I see is related to college: college visits, finding the right college, college applications, college essays, and all of that fun stuff. That’s what I tend to see the most.
And is there an average number of students you’ll see daily, or does it vary?
Fracker: *Laughing* I see students all day long. And I love it!
Did you work as a counselor at any other high schools before coming to Lauralton?
Fracker: Prior to grad school, I worked at a publishing company, which is totally different stuff. Then, I started working at Fairfield University, in one of their departments, and I taught classes, and that’s when and where I went back to grad school. After that, I did a little bit of substitute teaching for a few years, followed by an internship at a middle school. So, my first foray, if you will, into college counseling was at Lauralton.
Did you substitute in any high schools?
Fracker: I did substitute teach at high schools. I substitute taught from kindergarten through high school. So that was fun!
Was the high school you taught at co-ed?
Did you find that it was much different from working with only girls, or no?
Fracker: I don’t think so. I think definitely having boys around lent a different atmosphere. I like the all girls. I like that female empowerment thing, but ultimately it was pretty much the same.
Are there any changes you think Lauralton should make to decrease students’ stress levels?
Fracker: I think we made a big change and a really good change when we went to that block schedule. We have seen in this department that the stress level went way down. So, I think that was an awesome change that we made. I also think a lot of it is in the course advising, in terms of how much challenge you’re taking on, how many activities you have outside of school, and balancing your life. So, changes can be made on an individual basis, as well as overall.
Has this year’s college application process been different in any way?
Fracker: Every year it can change. A college can come back and say, “Our applications have gone up by 20%.” I’ll never forget when Villanova won the big basketball championship. We knew that was going to throw the application process for a little loop, but I also think that every year we see demonstrated interest becoming more and more important, and we saw that this year too.
So, there were no odd changes?
Fracker: Nothing out of the absolute ordinary.
Is there any one school that a large amount of seniors applied to?
Fracker: This year in particular, or every year?
Every year, I guess.
Fracker: Well, we always send our fair share to the University of Connecticut. We have those favorite LH draws, and it wasn’t any different this year than in the past. Those are the Villanovas, the Providences, the Fordhams of the world. I like when certain schools come on students’ radars more that are farther away–you know, Furman or Miami Ohio. As students branch out and reach out, I think it opens other people up to expanding their visits.
Are there any new schools you see every year, or is it generally the same ones?
Fracker: I think more and more students will come in and ask me about California schools.
Yeah I’ve noticed a lot of that!
Fracker: Yeah, so that’s becoming common. It used to be more surprising to me, now it’s not. Students will say “I want to see Pepperdine, I want to see Santa Clara, I want to see USC.” It could be because of all of the technology, and how it’s easy to go out and travel and still stay connected to people back home.
Absolutely. So what is your favorite part of being a guidance counselor?
Fracker: Well, I do love the college and career piece. I love visiting colleges and coming back to share my thoughts on them. When you visit these schools, you kind of get the tone and the beat, and I love using that to help my students find the right fit for the next phase of their life. I love getting to know my juniors and seniors, and I love when my they go out, go to college, and come back to visit me. I still keep in touch with alumnae that graduated years ago, and so, to me, that is a very wonderful thing. I might go to Starbucks and have coffee with someone who graduated in 2005 to catch up on their life. That is a very important piece of what I do. Also, every other year, we do Career Day, and we bring in 40 to 50 women from various professional careers. I love when a student will say to me, “I decided my major or my career path based on a session that I attended,” or “Mrs. Fracker, I just secured an internship with a woman who came to Career Day.” So, for me, that’s very meaningful.
Thank you! That’s all I’ve got.
Fracker: Thanks, that was fun!