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Q&A with your Counselor – Zach Pava

Welcome to a new Insight Series: Q&A with your Counselors. We’re starting off with our Insight Counselor Zach Pava, who works with us out of his hometown in Boston. Get to know Zach and a little more about why he loves being a College Admissions Counselor!


Tell us about Insight Education Newton?

We offer a comprehensive yet personalized approach to college admissions counseling. Counselors work one-on-one with students, in conjunction with their families, and schedule recurring meetings to aid in academic support, course selection, setting goals, staying organized, test prep and decisions. We also cover extracurricular activity building, help with applications and inquiries for volunteering, summer internships and jobs, interview prep, major selection, college research, essay development, application review, and more!


Where did you go to college? What is your favorite memory from your college days?

I graduated from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut with a degree in psychology. Trinity is a small liberal arts college located between Boston and New York, and combines a beautiful, green college campus with the resources of a small city. I built life-long friendships with terrific roommates and enjoyed playing intramural sports on the quad. My favorite classes included Mass Media & Pop Culture, Creative Writing, & Social Psychology.


How long have you been with Insight Education? 

I started working with Insight Education in May, 2013 and am now entering my 5th full season as a college admissions counselor. I look forward to many more as we continue to grow this terrific company.


What inspired you to become a college admissions counselor?  

I have worked with students of all ages ever since graduating college. As my students have grown older over time, so has the need to build services for older students as they’ve matured from 5-year-olds to middle schoolers to teenagers on their way to applying to and selecting the “right” college for them. It’s truly a privilege to witness their growth and progress over a period of years and I have had the rare opportunity to build long standing relationships with families across the country.


What is the best thing about being a college admissions counselor?

My favorite part about my job is being able to help students grow socially, to become their own people, to maximize their potential and find their voices, and ultimately, to be happy with their choices. I want them to head to college with the confidence and ability to make decisions that will positively influence their futures.


What is the most challenging thing about being a college admissions counselor?

We work long hours during the application season, which runs from about July to December each year.  I casually refer to it as our “tax season.” I think sometimes finding the appropriate balance between work and family is challenging, particularly when students rely on you so heavily for support.


Tell us about your favorite restaurant in the Newton area

Mandarin Cuisine has been a personal favorite of mine since I was young. I originally went there on Sunday evenings with my family and continued regular lunch visits with my best friend during high school and beyond. They are always very friendly and deliver great food with incredible speed. The scallion pancakes are a must!


Who is your favorite sports team?

The Boston Celtics have been the team I’ve followed most passionately since I was young. The Red Sox are a close second though and I try to get to a few games a year at the TD Garden & Fenway Park. Seeing both play in the Bay area against the Warriors and Giants was exciting.  It’s fun to root for your teams as a visitor and you learn to appreciate the passion of fans in other areas as well. There is a healthy respect between Boston and San Francisco.


What do you like to do in your spare time?

I enjoy doing fun activities with my family. My wife, Tarah, and I have two young children, a 3-year-old boy named Benjamin, and a baby girl, Emily, who joined the family just this May.  We recently returned home from Maine, where we spent time playing on the beach, took trolley rides around town, and enjoyed the freshest lobster in the world.


If you could pick any 3 people in the world to invite to a dinner party, who would they be and why?

I’d pick Barack Obama because he is the best public speaker I’ve ever heard. I’d pick Patriots coach Bill Belichick because he is the worst public speaker I’ve ever heard. And I’d pick comedian Larry David to see how quickly he could make each of them retreat from the table.


If you had to pick a motto to live by, what would it be?

“Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things…” No wait I’m sorry, that’s from The Shawshank Redemption 🙂 Seriously though, I would tell students in particular to “Try new things, as many as you can. The older you get, the fewer opportunities there are to explore your passions and find time for hobbies.”


What is your favorite weather season and why?

My favorite season by far is the fall. The leaves changes color, the summer heat disappears, my kids enjoy Halloween, and football returns. My favorite weather exists in October, when I can walk down the street comfortably in blue jeans and a t-shirt, a mellow breeze accompanying my stroll.


What is your favorite holiday to celebrate and why?

My favorite holiday is Thanksgiving, a time of family gathering, great food, and (usually) no snow on the ground yet.


If you weren’t a college admissions counselor, what would your dream job be?

I would either be a full-time screenwriter creating a new film comedy every 18 months or a professional poker player in Las Vegas, one of my favorite hobbies during my free time.


Where in the world would you love to travel?

I would love to visit Barcelona, Australia, and Italy, none of which I have been to.


Any parting words of wisdom or advice to students?

Be yourself and stay true to who you are. There will always be people in your life who want you to travel a specific path, either directly or indirectly. Find what you truly love and do whatever you can to pursue it.


Zach works in our Boston office and is taking new students now! Contact us today to set up a meeting with Zach.

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What Are Insight Students & Parents saying?
  • I liked the structured method by which Zach approached the whole admission process. First, there was research into colleges to make a list, then a rigorous back and forth on […]

  • Priya was absolutely amazing to work with! We are thrilled that our son got into his top choice for college at LMU for the undergraduate business program. We couldn’t have […]

  • Thank you so much for helping me formulate my thoughts into words and help me write my essays. I got into Ut Austin for biology – still waiting for the […]

  • I just wanted to thank you again for your help during the college admission process. My family and I have been scrambling to figure out the process for years, and […]

  • I really couldn’t have gotten to Harvard without you. In shock. Thank you x10000000000000! I have the best college counselor in the world!

  • I just wanted to say thank you for taking the time out of your day to organize a meeting with me and help me in writing my summer program essays. […]

  • I just got my SAT scores on Friday, and I am happy to let you know that I scored an 800 on both the Biology-M and Math II tests. Thank […]

  • Our ACT instructor methods were so helpful and wonderful to have.

  • Zach, thank you so much for helping me become a confident and successful writer

  • We were extremely happy throughout the process – got much more than what we invested in Insight counseling.

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