Jack Murphy earned his consulting stripes from a thirty-year career in international education. Teaching, coaching, and college counseling on five continents gave Jack a world of experience at large and small independent and international schools, in schools with IB or AP programs, and with students that often spoke English as a second, third, or fourth language.
In 2010, Jack returned home on a permanent basis. Becoming a consultant with Search Associates was not even a consideration. However, Search Founder John Magagna, who had worked with Jack on prior placements, had other plans. John was aware that Jack had cultivated an expertise in college counseling, having personally visited over 500 colleges and universities in the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada.
That same year Jack and John created Visiting Overseas College Advising (VOCA,) and Jack joined Search Associates as the company's college counseling consultant. Since then, VOCA has served the college counseling needs of new, developing, and changing international schools in China, Egypt, Argentina, Hong Kong, Panama. This year Jack had the opportunity to provide professional guidance and advice to a developing schools and college counseling programs on JeJu Island, South Korea and in Bilbao, Spain.
Jack's extensive VOCA travel has enabled him to continually develop his approach in helping diverse international schools improve their philosophy and all the processes involved in higher education advising. Each visit to an international school campus is unique, and the ability to improvise is a much needed skill. During an on-site school week, Jack may be asked to present to ninth and tenth grade students about the larger admission process, work with all students on career interests, direct 11th graders on college and university choices, emphasize how underclassmen might better their chances with sound subject choice decisions, and work with high school seniors on transitioning to college. During each week-long trip, Jack is asked to address individual questions while simultaneously referring students to university programs or recommending possible majors.
Each mid-week is punctuated with a key presentation to a parent audience. While parents and students often seek information about the relative importance of tests and test scores in college admissions, Jack emphasizes two important issues. One is the concept of "Best Fit," the accepted and most ethical approach to college counseling, which must be understood by everyone in the school community. The other main point is that the academic achievement of a student should be measured against the rigor of the subject and quality of the student's course load. In addition, all of the main components of university applications from several countries are discussed at length. These include college and personal essays, letters of recommendation, evidence of community involvement, activities beyond the classroom, and the importance of special abilities in the admission process.
During Jack's career, he successfully placed over 2,200 students in college and universities in the US, UK, Canada, Australia and in other national systems. The depth of his background and his continued dedication to understanding the current climate in college admission provides Jack with information and accurate data about acceptance rates for selective and very selective institutions. He can easily clarify what criteria define selective and very selective schools but, more importantly, Jack delivers to both the students and the parents his Best Fit motto, a phrase most often used by Jack and equally experienced college counselors:
"College is a match to be made, not a trophy to be won."
By providing boundaries and a plan for both parents and students, Jack makes the college application process less overwhelming and confusing. For parents, he emphasizes that this is their teen's journey and that the outcome has nothing to do with the quality of the parenting. Parents should be on the sidelines supporting their student, not at the forefront directing or forcing the application process. Moreover, students and parents need to understand the realities associated with the 21st century college admission process, balance their choice of colleges, and organize their approach to the entire process.
Jack also emphasizes that the college admission process can truly serve as a rite of passage for students. It is the student who should take responsibility and invest the time and energy to select a proper list of schools based on established goals, known aspirations, recognized abilities, and personal achievement. Yes, parents should be consulted, but the student should take ownership of the process. If everyone-- the high school counselors, the teachers, the student, and the parents-- play their roles, the process can be rewarding and successful.
Mr. Murphy looks forward to bringing the Search Associates college consulting service to scheduled schools in 2014-2015 and to any other subsequent VOCA visits that may be arranged. To contact Jack, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or through the Search Associates website.