Cyndy McDonald

I love teaching in the College Counseling Certificate program, and especially teaching the Special Issues in Education course. My own educational journey as a first generation student reflects the challenges many of our students encounter as they go to college.

My personal college experience began with a bang when, as a 17 year old, I had to go to the President of the University of Colorado and petition him personally to let me into the university. Fortunately, he said “yes” and I enrolled as an early freshman. I eventually transferred, and later graduated with a BS in Behavioral Science from Westminster College (UT). I later went on for a MA in Education from Fresno Pacific (CA).

I have thirty years of experience as a high school and middle school counselor, working in Title 1 schools in Central California. Our student body is very diverse and often multi-lingual. Their love of learning and growing to their full potential is infectious!

As a middle school counselor, I helped found an AVID program, which led me to work for AVID (an outreach program for first generation, under-represented students) for over thirteen years. I was a trainer of over 1000 counselors and teachers on student success, career and college preparation. I have also taught foster youth in our community and served on the advisory board for foster youth at the community college level. I have also been an independent college counselor for almost thirty years. Over eighty percent of the students in my private practice are first generation students, and many of them are first generation Americans.

I am very committed to professional development. I am the founder of Higher Education Consultants Association (HECA). I serve or have served on several boards/organizations, including National Association for College Admissions (NACAC), Western Association for College Admissions (WACAC), American Institute of Certified Educational Planners (CEP), Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success, (the Coalition Application), Higher Education Consultants Association (HECA), Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA), and National College Advocacy Group (NCAG).

I have a passion for helping students access higher education, and guiding counselors in helping students to achieve their dreams. Starting this year, 2020, I will have notes available to my class on college visits I complete. The first set will be from colleges/universities in the United Kingdom that I am touring in March (2020).

As an instructional tool for all my UCLA courses, I interview subject matter experts to get their insights into topics we cover in the courses. I have interviewed close to 100 experts, including Ted Fiske, author of the Fiske Guide, Harlan Cohen, author of The Naked Roommate, Peter VanBuskirk, author of the Admissions Game, the authors of Admissions Matters, and many college and other professionals. My students enjoy hearing from the perspectives of these experts and discussing them in class.

Students have access to the interviews through my youtube channel after class is over. My goal is to provide an engaging and thought provoking experience in each UCLA class I teach. I hope you can join us in the next Special Issues class.  

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