Taking stress out of educational decisions
In part one of a series of stories profiling the participants in the Enterprise Bermuda incubator programme. we speak with Sandra Dill.
Veteran educator Sandra Dill aims to reduce the stress levels of college-bound students and their families.
Ms Dill is the chief executive officer of EDcellerate, an educational and college consultancy that provides college prep coaching, guiding students and their families through the college preparation process to enrollment inclusive of the application process, test-taking and entrance essays.
The goal is to help students to find colleges that are the “best fit” for them.
Ms Dill is among eight entrepreneurs participating in the year-long Enterprise Bermuda incubator programme organised by the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation.
The initiative supports entrepreneurs by providing office space and equipment, access to mentors, and expert business advice. The BEDC’s objective is to assist Government in encouraging economic growth for Bermuda’s local small and medium-sized businesses.
EDcellerate offers its services via workshops and individual counselling. Clients, Ms Dill says, normally arrive as the result of referrals. EDcellerate accepts students in grades M4 (grade 8) through S4 (grade 12).
EDcellerate also organises the annual international college and university fair held in December for the benefit of students and parents, and for the first time this year will hold a vocational college and career fair in October. Both events are held in collaboration with the Department of Education.
In addition, the organisation produces two magazines annually. College Prep 101 is published in May and is geared toward college-bound teens and their families. A second magazine, published in November, previews the following month’s university and college fair by featuring the participating colleges and universities, and providing college prep tips.
Senior school counsellors, graduates and college reps write articles for the magazine, as does Ms Dill.
The key to reducing stress for college-bound students, she says, is doing prep work during the summer months.
Once students are back in school, Ms Dill says, they must manage not only their course load but additional tasks such as writing the SAT, applying to their preferred schools, applying for scholarships, gathering references, writing entrance essays, assembling a resume, completing their community service hours, and more.
“During the summer, the goal is to teach young people how to map their progress so they don’t get to exam time exhausted,” Ms Dill says. “Once students are back at school, there is a whole lot they are required to do. I help them to prepare during the summer so that when they are at that space, stress is reduced.
“The whole point of the EDcellerate advising process is to reduce stress by helping students to manage the process to get their required outcome. The objective for students is for them to be in control of their process.”
Ms Dill has an undergraduate degree from Georgia State University, a master’s degree in counselling from Clark Atlanta University, and a master’s in educational leadership from Miami University of Ohio.
She taught in Bermuda’s primary school system at Dellwood and Purvis, was a guidance counsellor at Sandys Secondary and CedarBridge Academy, and was in turn director of admissions, and co-ordinator of training and development, at Bermuda College.
Today, Ms Dill combines full-time work at the Salvation Army with EDcellerate, which she operates on a part-time basis.
Ms Dill completed the BEDC’s Streetwise MBA programme before being invited to apply for a spot in the incubator initiative. She is most appreciative of a year’s free office space, which facilitates in-town meetings with clients and prospective clients, but says the benefits go far beyond a desk, chair, and office equipment.
“The expertise available to not only support the business, but to grow and enhance the business, is the most important thing about the programme,” she says.
“In relation to finances, I can ask someone ‘can you look at my numbers, do they make sense?’ Or I can show someone my marketing materials and say ‘does this make sense?’ The programme just puts a lot more structure around the business.
“I am also able to engage with the other entrepreneurs in the programme at different stages of their growth and development, learning from them and sharing with them. Sharing expertise — that’s the great thing about the incubator process.”
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