Collegiate Gateway has undergone a lot of change since it was first founded almost twenty years ago, including increases in both geographic reach and services offered. It’s also expanded its staff. Last week, we launched a series of interviews with Collegiate Gateway staff members. So far, we’ve featured Founder and President Julie Raynor Gross and Associate College Counselor Caroline Ferrucci. Today, please meet Director of Client Relations Maureen Meyer!
When did you begin working for Collegiate Gateway, and what drew you to the company?
I started working for Collegiate Gateway in 2014. I was fascinated by how complicated the college process had become for students and parents in just a matter of 15 or so years. I saw how engaging Julie is and how much she helps students and parents through the admissions process. Julie takes away so much of the stress of applying to schools, and also enables students to take ownership of the process. She helps students to meet deadlines, craft meaningful essays, and, most importantly, guides them in finding a “best-fit” school.
How has your role at Collegiate Gateway changed over the years?
At Collegiate Gateway, I feel like I wear many hats, and I keep getting new hats! I really like that, in my position, I am continually learning more about the college and grad school admissions process. A lot of what I do involves tracking schedules, deadlines, and essays, but I also write blog posts and newsletters, and research admissions stats and college trends. Every year, we take on new projects and presentations or help a client pursue graduate studies in a new program. Julie is always looking to innovate and improve our processes—I love that! Never get too comfortable in how you do things.
How, in your view, has Collegiate Gateway changed since you started working here?
Over the years, Collegiate Gateway has expanded our graduate school consulting and our breadth of knowledge in college consulting. We help people who are applying to medical school, law school, business schools, psychology programs, and more! Having expertise in all of these areas takes time and effort, but again, it’s fascinating to see the crossover between these different programs and yet how they are all unique. Personality assessments have also become increasingly popular, and they seem to be very helpful in giving students guidance towards future careers and insight into work and study habits. Finally, there is more advising in terms of high school and college students applying for internships, summer programs, research positions, and volunteer activities. We have compiled and researched an extensive list of really wonderful programs.
What was your work life like before Collegiate Gateway? What about your previous work experience do you think is most relevant to the work you do now?
Before Collegiate Gateway, I was a kindergarten teacher at Marymount School in Manhattan. I absolutely loved teaching young children, and I enjoy continuing to educate my own children now. My teaching experience developed my organization skills, and helped me to prioritize tasks and meet deadlines. Strong communication skills are essential to both teaching and working at Collegiate Gateway, as well as helping students and parents. I also enjoy being part of a team—I collaborated with an amazing group of teachers at Marymount, and I work with a fabulous team at Collegiate Gateway!
Going further back, what did you study in college and graduate school? How has that influenced your approach to working with students and their families?
At Notre Dame, I majored in English, and at Fordham grad school, I earned a dual Master of Science in teaching early childhood and childhood education. Studying English enhanced my creativity, communication and writing skills, and the field of education taught me various ways to support the learning pathways of students and their families. At college and grad school, I had wonderful interactions with my peers and professors. Both Notre Dame and Fordham were excellent in different ways and facilitated my career and life path. When you find the right fit, the experience can be life-changing. I love how we help students to find that fit at college and grad school, as well.
What do you remember about applying to college?
I remember picking schools based on where my parents, family, and neighbors had applied to college. I visited four schools and applied to five. I took one test prep class and sat for the SAT twice. I filled out my applications on a paper form, printed my essays from a computer, and mailed the applications to the colleges at the post office. I received my admissions notifications back in the mail, and I remember when my Notre Dame acceptance letter arrived, my mom went out and bought blue and gold balloons.
What are your most meaningful college memories, and how have they shaped who you are today?
My most meaningful college memories always center around friendships. I made wonderful, lifelong friends at Notre Dame, and they shaped who I am today. I also had the amazing experience of studying abroad in London for a semester, which allowed me to travel to many parts of Europe, and showed me that I wanted to live in New York City once I graduated. Studying abroad for a semester pushed me out of my comfort zone and introduced me to so many adventures. Finally, the work was really challenging, but rewarding as well. I learned that I enjoy pushing myself to meet my goals.
What was your favorite college class, or who was your favorite college professor?
This is so hard to choose—my English classes at Notre Dame were pretty amazing! My favorite professor would probably have to be Tom Werge. He taught early nineteenth century American literature, with a focus on how religious thought shaped this writing. He gave such interesting lectures and his kind nature encouraged students to share their ideas in class. I remember feeling really shy and intimidated about speaking in class at first, but since my classes were only 10 to 20 students, you had to talk! This experience was great for me in terms of making me speak up. Professor Werge was also my advisor and wrote detailed, encouraging recommendation letters for my graduate school applications and teaching applications.
Tell us about your life outside of work. What do you do when you’re away from the computer?
When I am away from the computer, I am with my family. I am helping my kids with homework, driving them to activities, taking our dog for walks, and cooking! We often watch movies and play card games. I love to read with my kids and for myself. We enjoy being outside—planting in our garden, playing sports, hiking, and going to the beach.
What’s one piece of art you’ve loved recently, and why?
I really enjoyed reading the novel Circe, by Madeline Miller, which focuses on self-discovery. It’s a tale that’s loosely based on characters mentioned in The Odyssey, and the writing is really vivid and entertaining. My kids are practically experts in Greek mythology, so we had fun discussing the characters and their backstories after I finished the book.
What one piece of advice would you give to high school students applying to college?
When you are applying to college—keep an open mind, visit campuses, ask questions, and try to imagine yourself on many different paths. Once the process unfolds—the right path for you will become clear!