Oxelson accepts counseling position at Horace Mann School

By Alice Phillips

Upper School Dean Canh Oxelson will leave at the end of this school year to become Horace Mann School’s Director of College Counseling.

“There were only a few opportunities that I would’ve jumped at,” Oxelson said. “One would be a great college admissions job, which I’ve looked at in the past, and the other would be to be a director of college counseling at a school like Horace Mann.”

Oxelson will not have advisees in his first year at Horace Mann, which is located in New York City, in order to both assimilate into the Horace Mann advising culture and ensure that he is available to rising seniors at Harvard-Westlake during application season.

“Obviously, we will be very careful on who we choose to fill that spot,” Head of Upper School Harry Salamandra said. “I do know that Mr. Oxelson has already signed on to write [college recommendations] for his kids… so at least the initial portion of the [recommendation] that goes off to colleges will be from him, supplemented by whoever else they’ll be getting.”

“I do understand that kids get a little nervous about having to build a new relationship with the dean,” Oxelson said. “[Success in the college process] doesn’t have as much to do with that relationship as kids think… It’s more about the kid knowing about himself and what schools are good fits for him.”

Unlike at Harvard-Westlake, Horace Mann’s College Counseling office and Academic Advising office are two separate entities. A Horace Mann student would go to the academic adviser for help in choosing courses, then walk across the hall to make sure the college counselor approves, Oxelson said.

“Part of the reason Horace Mann was interested in me was because I had experience in an environment where those two things were aligned, and they’re looking to align those two things,” he said. “This was a great challenge to try and help them do that.”

As a K-12 school, Horace Mann must counsel students and parents through the process from a very young age, presenting challenges for the Director of College Counseling. Parents of elementary age children may not need to know very much about the process even though they will ask, he said.

“People have said to me, ‘You think Harvard-Westlake parents are tough, what about those parents in New York City?’”

Oxelson came to Harvard-Westlake eight years ago from the University of Pennsylvania’s Undergraduate Admissions office following stints at the University of San Francisco, St. Mary’s College and the University of California Santa Cruz.