‘Super’-coordinator Anne Hutchens leads senior class in college admissions process

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‘Super’-coordinator Anne Hutchens leads senior class in college admissions process

Anne Hutchens, Whitman's College and Career Information Coordinator, has worked in her position for the past six years.

Anne Hutchens, Whitman's College and Career Information Coordinator, has worked in her position for the past six years.

Kurumi Sato

Anne Hutchens, Whitman's College and Career Information Coordinator, has worked in her position for the past six years.

Kurumi Sato

Kurumi Sato

Anne Hutchens, Whitman's College and Career Information Coordinator, has worked in her position for the past six years.

By Sam Mulford

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“Your glass is half full.”

The message is inscribed on a glass of water that sits on College and Career Information Coordinator Anne Hutchens’ desk everyday. It’s Hutchens’ personal mantra — and for students, it’s a constant reminder to maintain a positive mindset. 

Hutchens started to leave the glass on her desk after helping a student come to terms with the college decisions she had received. Hutchens wanted to remind her and other students the importance of looking on the bright side of things.

“Not getting into a college isn’t going to be the end of the world, even if it feels like it is in the moment,” Hutchens said. “There’s more to be thankful for than people realize; it’s all about remembering that there are things at the end of the day that you should be thankful for.” 

Hutchens has worked in her position for the past six years, so she’s accustomed to the daunting college application process. She’s responsible for processing and sending materials to colleges, including transcripts, grades, school reports, counselor recommendations and teacher recommendations. She also organizes college visits, works with the counseling department and sets up student and parent conferences to discuss the college application process throughout the year. 

Resource counselor Kari Wislar said Hutchens is the heart and soul of the college admissions process for Whitman students.

“She knows the process backward and forward,” Wislar said. “She is incredibly efficient, super kind and super patient with kids who are in a really anxiety-provoking process.”

Hutchens meticulously inspects the senior class’ documents at least three times before November 1 to make sure everyone’s documents are where they need to be, ensuring that no student misses a deadline, Wislar said.

Aside from paper copies of transcripts, Hutchens is responsible for sending the transcripts of the entire senior class on her own. According to counselor Laura Williams, she sends out about 5,000 transcripts a year.  

A significant part of Hutchen’s job is being a source of availability for the student body, she said. She keeps the College and Career Information Center open all day, including lunches, so that students can go in to ask her questions or destress.

“Whether a kid is stressed about school or something else entirely, having them come in worried and leave less worried is the most important thing,” Hutchens said. 

When former Whitman student Cameron Newcombe (‘18) was going through a rough patch her senior year, the CCIC felt like a safe place for her, she said. 

“It was nice knowing that if I had a rough day, I could always go to the CCIC and talk to Hutchens,” Newcombe said. “She was a great support system.” 

Although many students can’t imagine their college process without her help, Hutchens didn’t always know she was going to be a counselor. After graduating from Johns Hopkins University with a law degree in 1980, she moved to Chicago and went to law school for seven years. After she had her first child, she moved back to Bethesda and became a stay-at-home mom.

When her eldest child started at Whitman in 2000, Hutchens started volunteering in the main office answering phone calls and became close with former principal Alan Goodwin, who was the assistant principal at the time. In 2014, when she was working at Pyle part time as a counseling secretary, Goodwin informed her that Whitman’s current resource counselor was retiring, and he asked if she would consider applying for the job. With all of her kids out of the house, she felt it was perfect timing; she was ready for a new challenge.

After accepting the position, her first year was a difficult transition, she recalled. Since the previous resource counselor had retired, she had no one to train her. She remembers coming in that first summer and having no idea what she was doing. 

“That first week I called my sister-in-law, and I was like ‘What am I doing here?’” Hutchens said. 

Thankfully, Wislar took Hutchens under her wing and walked her through the process. Wislar invited Hutchens to sit in on and observe college meetings with students; for Hutchens these one-on-one meetings were among the most difficult aspects of her job. Through the mentoring process, Wislar and Hutchens developed a close friendship. 

“We are able to talk honestly to each other about things we are doing well and things we are not doing well,” Wislar said. “It’s really nice to have a colleague like that.”  

 

For Hutchens, no day looks the same. Depending on the time of year, her responsibilities are different. In the fall, she works closely with students to make college deadlines and finalize applications. She also organizes college visits at school; on any given year anywhere from 150 to 180 colleges come to visit Whitman. 

“I pretty much take any college who wants to come visit because you never know which students will be interested,” Hutchens said. 

She takes time off from Thanksgiving to Christmas, where there is a “lull” period in the process. In March, she starts reaching out to seniors so she can send their final transcripts to colleges. Around this time, she also starts meeting with juniors.

While most teachers and counselors aren’t employed by MCPS during each summer, Hutchens is starting the process all over again, organizing college visits and answering questions from the rising senior class. 

“What’s remarkable about Mrs. Hutchens is she’s so busy, and her job can be very stressful, but she’s always so positive,” Williams said. 

Former Whitman student Max Gordy (‘18) said he noticed Hutchens has a calming presence on students when he worked for her as a teacher’s assistant. 

“As a TA, I saw so many Whitman students and parents come into her office completely worked up,” Gordy said. “Mrs. Hutchens has this unique way of helping people realize it’s not the end of the world.” 

Gordy often spent time in the CCIC after school because he had time to kill before crew practice. He decided to be Hutchens’ TA junior year, and the two became close. He still keeps in touch with Hutchens; he calls her about once a month to update her on his life. 

“She talks to students like they are real people,” Gordy said. “She always treated me as an equal but gave the advice of someone who had experienced a lot more than I had.”   

Getting to know students is without a doubt her favorite part of her job, Hutchens said. 

“I don’t think the community realizes how varied you all are in terms of your interests, your passions, your extracurriculars,” Hutchens said. “You all are just great for your own reasons.”