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Shalhevet news online: When we know it, you'll know it

The Boiling Point

Shalhevet news online: When we know it, you'll know it

The Boiling Point

Shalhevet news online: When we know it, you'll know it

The Boiling Point

Dr. Steven Mercer, who broadened college options, will expand his consulting practice

Goldie Fields
LOOKING BEYOND: Dr. Mercer hopes students learned that “success in high school doesn’t hinge on getting into well-known colleges.” He will not be returning next year.

Dr. Steven Mercer, who has served as Director of College Counseling since January of 2008, has decided to leave Shalhevet to work full time at his own private college counseling practice.

“I already have a practice which has been part time,” Dr. Mercer told The Boiling Point. “It’s really ready to be full time.”

In his practice, Mercer Educational Consulting, Dr. Mercer currently works with around 30 local, out-of-state, and even international students, including one each from France and Ecuador.

Dr. Mercer said he would continue at Shalhevet until the end of August, when his contract expires.

“The plan is to keep doing my job until then in every way possible,” Dr. Mercer said.

In a letter to parents, Head of School Rabbi Ari Segal said a search for a replacement had already begun, and that certain parents would be enlisted to help “when the time is right.”  One candidate was interviewed by students May 8.

“We have identified two strong candidates at this point and we will continue looking for additional candidates,” wrote Rabbi Segal.

Over the past five years, Dr. Mercer made it his goal to not only help students through the college process, but also to broaden the number of options for students, he said.

During his tenure, Shalhevet seniors were accepted to top schools including Harvard, Columbia, Penn, Dartmouth, Washington University in St. Louis, McGill, Northwestern and Johns Hopkins, along with all the UC campuses, Michigan and USC. Several also obtained full scholarships to Yeshiva University.

But Dr. Mercer said he was proudest of convincing students to look beyond the best known schools.

“I hope that I accomplished what I wanted to: that I brought to Shalhevet the idea that there are good colleges everywhere, and success in high school doesn’t hinge on getting into well-known colleges,” Dr. Mercer said.

“I want students to recognize that there are other schools besides UCLA and Penn.”

Alumni said they had found Dr. Mercer very helpful.

“Dr. Mercer is the reason I ended up at American University, for which I will be eternally grateful,” said alumna Jenny Newman ’10.

“It is absolutely the perfect university for me, and Dr. Mercer helped me through every step of getting from a clueless high school senior to getting accepted into a really great school that was a perfect fit. He was a great influence on the school and he’ll be missed by our community.”

Michael Silver, class of 2012, agreed.

“At first, I had no clue where I wanted to go to apply,” said Michael, now a freshman at USC.  “Then I walked out of a meeting with Dr. Mercer having a list of colleges that I was interested in. He was definitely an essential part of my college decision process and I couldn’t imagine having done it without him.”

Changes Dr. Mercer said he’d noticed during his tenure included a dramatic increase in the number of different schools that students apply to.

“I’m seeing lots of changes in college admissions in general,” Dr. Mercer said in an interview. “I also see a lot more emphasis on people applying early decision and early action, to the point where almost everybody now in the senior class is applying early somewhere.

“This is something that’s actually happening nationwide,” he added.

He offered these final words of advice:

“No matter what kind of student you are, there are a lot of really great colleges out there,” Dr. Mercer said. “Every single person should recognize that, and just always keep an open mind.”

Former Co-Editor-in-Chief Jacob Ellenhorn contributed to this story.

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