College whisperer


Doug Dolan, Staff Writer

If college counselor William Gunn had a choice between community college and an elite school with a hundred thousand dollar debt, Gunn would choose community college.

“There is a ridiculous gap between tuition and value,” Gunn said.  “Wash U, it’s one of my favorite universities in the world, but it is grossly overpriced; as are most
colleges in the United States.”

Gunn liked helping kids with their college choices but he didn’t like the sales aspect of his job as a
college admissions counselor at Washington University.  So, he came to De Smet to give students advice without an ulterior motive.

“[At De Smet] I have lots of freedom to work with people directly,” Gunn said.  “There is no
agenda here; I give people the best advice I can give them.  At Wash U, the only advice I could truly give was ‘Apply to Wash U.’ [At De Smet], I don’t have a dog in the fight.”

The college application is one of the most stressful parts of the college admissions process and adds much more pressure to the situation.

“[The college application process] is deeply stressful and some people only subconsciously realize that and it comes out over stress about the application process and keeping all the paperwork straight,” Gunn said.  “These days, the app process is simple; you can do it in an hour.”

Adjusting for inflation, the average price of a private nonprofit college has skyrocketed from $16,213 to $43,921 since 1975.  Gunn says that student loans have driven the costs of
college up.

“I would very much recommend not paying much for very “elite” schools,” Gunn said.  “If you
can possibly get into a different institution that is willing to give you some money,
it is almost always going to be a better option.  I can’t caution against student loans enough.  The system is designed to exploit students.”  

Academics should not be the only factor when considering a school.

“If you can look at the college and say, ‘I really feel like this is a good fit for who I am’; then you have found a school for you,” Gunn said.  “If you have no idea whether the college fits you, that’s where I come in.”