COLLEGE GUIDANCE

WSOC graduates attend some of the most sought-after colleges and universities in the country and have shown great promise and aptitude academically, socially, and personally as a result of the skills they developed during their four years in high school.

General Introduction

In partnership with Strive to Learn, the Waldorf School of Orange County now offers the most robust, in-depth college and career counseling program to all WSOC students in grades 10-12. The thought of post-secondary planning can be extremely stressful for students, and this partnership aims to alleviate that stress while providing education and mentorship to allow students to gain clarity about their future trajectory post-high school. 

Strive to Learn features a team of highly specialized Independent Educational Consultants with over six years of experience guiding Waldorf students to thrive in any post-secondary space. They remain experts in their field through their collaboration with and contribution to their professional communities, like the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA) and the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC). But, most importantly, their work embodies the values of a Waldorf education – to provide students and families with the tools they need to craft a future they find meaningful, and to support their journeys through individualized and caring mentor relationships.

Students are assigned to a counselor who will guide their journey during their last three high school years, and with a student to counselor ratio of 10:1, the counselors get to know Waldorf students in a deeply personal way as they work closely together throughout the years. In addition to one-on-one meetings, Strive to Learn organizes a variety of workshops and presentations at WSOC, inviting outside speakers and organizing college fairs on campus to allow students to dip their toes into the opportunities they might want to engage with.

Experience what it’s like to work with the Strive to Learn team by listening to their podcast (hosted & produced by a Waldorf School alumni), or by checking out their free resources for families. Strive to Learn also offers all WSOC students a 10% discount on any tutoring or test prep services.

Sophomore Year

Sophomore students begin their college and career planning process by taking personality and character strengths assessments that jumpstart in-depth conversations exploring curiosities, passions, and extracurricular interests. The goal during sophomore year is to start building a personal relationship to help the students reflect on what brings them joy.

Junior Year

Throughout junior year, Strive to Learn helps students translate their curiosities and passions into future career options and good-fit college criteria. They will explore an array of non-traditional pathways such as community college, study abroad, gap years, co-ops, as well as attend workshops designed around list-building and college research. By the end of junior year, students will have developed a solid list of colleges that inspire their interests, support their success, and fit into the family finances. Students also attend a college essay writing workshop right before summer break to begin working on their college essays. 

Senior Year

High school seniors learn how to tackle the intricacies of their college applications and essays through monthly meetings with their Strive to Learn counselors who focus on taking the stress out of the application and help them get better results. Seniors learn how to fill out the Common App, UC, and CSU applications through group workshops, and parents can join our in-depth financial aid literacy night, so there’s no question about what they need to do to get their ducks in a row! After submitting their applications, students and families meet with their counselor in the spring to discuss their acceptances, which option is best for them, and how to move forward successfully. 

Our Team – Bios:

William Giacchi – Head Counselor

A storyteller and former English teacher, head counselor William loves to mentor students on their unique path to a joyful future. William especially loves supporting students with learning differences or attention deficits, while also leading Strive to Learn’s college counseling team. In his spare time, he enjoys playing the guitar, exploring new restaurants with his wife and daughter (who loves dinosaurs and outer space), and reminiscing about his Italian heritage.

Education: 

BA in Film and Electronic Arts (California State University, Long Beach)
Teaching Credential in English (California State University, Long Beach)
Independent Educational Consultant Certificate (University of California, Irvine)

Rachel Heilbronner – College Counselor

Rachel enjoys connecting with students and helping them reflect on their unique potential. Coming from an extensive non-profit background in helping teens develop leadership skills, she fell in love with supporting students as they develop their professional goals and find their niche in life. A lifelong adventurer who adores hiking and Poke (a Hawaiian dish), Rachel lives in beautiful Colorado with her husband, where she enjoys the mountains on long nature hikes. 

Education: 

BS in Elementary Education; BA in Jewish Studies (University of Wisconsin, Madison)

MBA in Nonprofit Management & School Leadership (Indiana University – Kelly School of Business)

Independent Educational Consultant Certificate (University of California, Irvine)


Melinda Blackman – College Counselor


With 20+ years of experience as a professor of Psychology, Melinda has a special spot in her heart for students who are interested in studying the social sciences but works with students interested in any academic trajectory. In her spare time, Melinda volunteers at the Back Bay Therapeutic Riding Club, helping people with disabilities find joy in working with and riding horses – an activity that relaxes and rejuvenates her.

Education: 

BA in Psychology (Stanford University)
Ph.D. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology (University of California, Riverside)
Independent Educational Consultant Certificate (University of California, Irvine)


Amanda Merrifield – College Counselor


Amanda is a ray of sunshine with many interests and talents: from literature to environmental science to coding, she is a role model to students trying to figure out what their passion might be. Amanda enjoys mentoring women in STEM fields and loves working with students interested in study abroad. Amanda calls London, England, home, and as an OC native, she misses the sun and beaches of California!

Education: 

BA in Literature, Postcolonial Studies (University of California, Santa Cruz)

Independent Educational Consultant Certificate (University of California, Irvine)

Josefine Borrmann – Strive to Learn Founder

A college admissions counselor and founder of Strive to Learn, Josefine Borrmann loves mentoring youth as they contemplate what the future holds for them. But it’s her experience as an award-winning independent documentary filmmaker that she leans on when helping students craft their stories. Josefine can occasionally be found in Costa Mesa, CA (where she lives) when not traveling around the world or backpacking in the Sierra Nevada.

Education:

BA in Psychology; BA in Ethnographic Documentary (Chapman University)

MA in Visual and Media Anthropology (Free University of Berlin)

Independent Educational Consultant Certificate (University of CA, Irvine)

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