Bolinger offers new resource, wealth of experience to students in college app process

Mrs.+Susan+Bolinger+works+with+Bearden+senior+Erin+Conley+on+her+college+applications.

Alyssa Lewis

Mrs. Susan Bolinger works with Bearden senior Erin Conley on her college applications.

Tucker Sparks, Staff Writer

With graduation mere months away for seniors and with many in the junior class beginning to draw up their college plans, a new and useful resource to aid in the transition out of high school is available to students and parents alike.

In response to a recent needs assessment, Bearden High School has followed the lead of several other local schools by adding to and reorganizing its college counseling office. Mrs. Lori Lesslie is still a resource for students to learn more about scholarship opportunities and the post-secondary world, but Bearden has also added Mrs. Susan Bolinger as the school’s first Director of College Counseling.

Mrs. Bolinger may be new to Bearden, but she does not lack experience. She has worked at multiple schools including most recently at Farragut High School and in the University of Tennessee’s College Admissions Offices. 

Mrs. Bolinger not only has ample experience in her occupation, but also a passion and dedication for helping students plan their future while minimizing the worry and confusion that often comes with that process.

“I enjoy helping them make the transition from high school to college,” Mrs. Bolinger said. “I just think that’s a really exciting and anxiety-ridden time.

“So I hope that we can help make it not as stressful.”

Having both Mrs. Bolinger and Mrs. Lesslie in the Counseling Office has created a number of benefits for students.

“I work with students over all areas,” Mrs. Lesslie said. “Social and emotional issues, schedule issues, as well as monitoring their graduation requirements and plans.”

Mrs. Bolinger’s position focuses on helping students make the best possible transition from Bearden High School to the next step in their lives. Her dedication to her work also comes from her understanding of just how important post-secondary education is for achieving success in the modern world. 

“There are very few jobs anymore that you can do with just a high school diploma,” Mrs. Bolinger said. “You have to get some kind of training, whether that’s a bachelor’s degree, a two year associate’s degree, or an apprenticeship program, and we want to make sure that whatever your plan is here at Bearden High School, we help you get there.”

Mrs. Bolinger frequently deals with students who need clarification and help for their post-high school plans.

“Sometimes students don’t even know what to ask, they’re just like, ‘Help me, I don’t know what I’m doing in this process,’” Mrs. Bolinger said. “[We discuss] a lot about applying: ‘How do I apply for college,’ or ‘Should I use the Common App, or should I just apply directly to the college?’”

Mrs. Bolinger offers some basic advice for any Bearden students who are feeling overwhelmed by the changes brought on by graduation and its implications.

“Do your research, plan ahead, and you won’t have as much stress when it comes time to making those decisions,” she said.

Mrs. Bolinger is available for questions on weekdays in the college and counseling office. She can also be reached by email at susan.bolinger@knoxschools.org.