To Pause

As the Director of College & Career Guidance, I have the wonderful privilege of working with our High School students, starting when we meet to select their initial High School courses and ending when I notify students that their High School diploma is ready to be picked up. As you can imagine, there is a lot that happens between those two events. One of the most frequent questions I am asked is, “How do I get into (fill in the blank)?”

Our natural disposition is to know exactly how to get to our predetermined goal. In understanding college admissions, I like to compare it to another system that we might not be familiar with in Orange County… public transportation.

Our first inclination is to have the college admissions process look like the Los Angeles Metro system. The L.A. Metro system is perfectly laid out and is great if you want to get from one predetermined area that has a station to another predetermined area with another station. However, this system is rigid and inflexible, so it only works for certain types of people going to certain types of locations. Everyone else is on their own.

Colleges and universities state that there is no one path that can absolutely guarantee admission. The college admissions process looks more like the Tokyo subway system. There are literally dozens of ways to arrive at any given destination. Each path has its strengths and weaknesses, but each rider can personalize the experience based on what he or she needs. While it seems more complex than the LA Metro system, it is still following the same rules and guidelines. Trains still leave from predetermined locations and make prearranged stops, just as each college or university has a minimum set of admission requirements, guidelines, and deadlines. However, there are many other factors that can impact whether a student is accepted or not. College admissions is as much about finding the perfect fit for the student as it is the school. College admissions is about trusting God to lead you to where He has next.

In his devotional My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers states, “To be certain of God means that we are uncertain in all our ways, not knowing what tomorrow may bring. This is generally expressed with a sigh of sadness, but it should be an expression of breathless expectation.”

My favorite part of the college admissions process happens in the Spring of Senior year. College applications have been submitted and students and their families begin the anticipation of receiving application decisions. There is a pause, an interlude. In the Book of Psalms, the word “selah” is used seventy-four times. There is a great deal of uncertainty about the meaning of this word. Most versions of the Bible do not even attempt a transliteration, but simply translate the word straight from the Hebrew. One thought is that selah comes from salah, meaning “to pause.”  It is believed that this is a musical notation signifying a rest to the performers of the psalms, stressing the truth and importance of the preceding passage.

In Spring there is a selah, a pause, before God shows our Seniors what He has in store for them next.

Prior to assuming the role of Director of College & Career Guidance, Ms. MacIntosh taught HS History and Bible at SVC. She attended Vanguard University of Southern California, graduating with a B.A. in Religion, a Single Subject Teaching Credential in Social Science, and a M.A in Education. She also earned a College Counseling Certificate from UCLA, Awarded with Distinction.

Ms. MacIntosh chose to pursue a career in Christian education because of her personal experience at a private Christian university, where her passion for learning was fostered and developed, equipping her not only in her vocation, but also growing her in her faith. She desires to provide the same experience for the leaders of tomorrow.

In her spare time, she enjoys traveling (she’s visited 67 countries … and counting, and all seven continents). When not abroad, you can find her running, on her stand-up paddle board, or reading.

You may reach Ms. MacIntosh at

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