WELCOME! Are you Curious About College?
- How will I choose a college?
- Why is there so much information to search through?
- How will I know if I am on the right path?
- Are the colleges I am thinking about right for me?
- Will my accommodations and support be offered to me at this college, and if so, how easy is it to access support and help?
These are some questions that prospective college students are asking but need a resource that can guide, winnow, and provide answers that are easily understood and manageable. Here, you can start that process of securing resources to provide step-by-step, and as much hands-on support as you would like, to assist you on your journey of finding, preparing for, and applying to those colleges that will best suit your needs and help you further your academic career in the most supportive and successful way possible!
Tips for keeping it all together …a quick list of why you want to keep organized and get help!
When is the optimum time to begin this process? Well planning the college process is best started in the winter of Sophomore year. Many students will have taken either the PSAT or the Plan or even both. The scores are typically sent to parents right after Thanksgiving of Sophomore year. Based on the grades of first semester and these test scores, it is best to open the dialogue with a college counselor. From this point, a plan to use the summers, choose the best courses for junior year, and a look at what could be best added to the overall resume in order to optimize college choices is created. A timeline and discussion as to when and how each step needs to be done. This time line is not static but rather is updated and discussed along the way. Regular meetings are set up to optimize this service at specific times in advance of choices to ensure the best options are selected.
I attended a wonderful evening with John Casteen, former President of The University of Virginia, during his final semester as President a few years ago. John Casteen still holds the distinction of the longest serving American college president; he retired to teach after a 20 year career as President. He smartly signed my admission letter when he was Dean of Admissions. I told him it was a great decision on his part! He gave such a wonderful speech and accounting of the state of the University. One question asked by an Alum and parent was “why is it so difficult for legacy children to get into The University?” He said it was a question he often was asked and always felt was difficult to explain. He said, “if you want your child to go to U.Va., then you better start planning when he or she is in 8th grade.” He went on to say that the people most likely to be chosen had the most hardcore Advanced Placement courses. He said to be thoughtful about the level of courses taken, as almost any university would admit that a student willing to take on a challenge was the most likely to be admitted. I have heard the same reasoning from almost all admissions officers in most colleges.
So one professional believes that this planning process needs to start in 8th grade. Hiring a Consultant is something that is best started in the winter of Sophomore year, and most will be involved throughout the following two years and afford assistance with course selection, student resumes, summer programs, sports recruiting, test preparation suggestions or assistance, essay and application support, interview help, follow up and thank you notes, visits, and of course, the best college choices in a series of safeties, targets, and reaches. This is a hand holding service that offers support during the entire journey.
Why can’t I just use my high school counselor? The majority of college counseling in high schools is not a hand holding experience. School Counselors have roles other than simply college support. Often, they are completely busy with seniors until February or March before they contact a junior. Sometimes, this is too late depending on what you want to do or where you want to go. Also, in some districts, the counselor actually doesn’t know the student at all, and simply has a few mandatory meetings along the way. Teens are usually rather hesitant to share with someone they do not know, so this scenario often has teens feeling left out of their own college journey. This is a shame because it is genuinely a time of celebration for both parents and students.
Many school counselors require the parents and a few teachers write up answers to elaborate questionnaires or fill out pages of recommendation forms, which they use to fill out the School Report and Mid-Year Report for the college. Often school counselors are simply using search engine tools or Naviance to decide which schools you should apply to and which ones you should not. This is not personal and often causes frustration with parents and students. It is not that these counselors are not doing their jobs; they are, but the expectations of parents is often not the same as the definition of the role they play.
I know few counselors who actually answer emails and phone calls for all the questions that arise. Many have never actually filled out an application and do not keep up with all the changes until after the fact. A good consultant will be informed. This process is dynamic and changes so very much from year to year. I am filling out applications with clients each fall, and I see how much the forms change. I am also aware of all the changes in the process that are significant, coming up.
The SAT announced it was changing during the fall of 2013, but this was not picked up in main stream media until March of 2014. I was inundated with emails and calls about the change. I had informed all the current clients I had at the time in the fall of 2013, so that they could be prepared for the changes for their upcoming children.
This is a field that requires constant awareness and involvement, often beyond the levels that a parent, student or counselor can do alone. College Counseling is a vital service that assists and supports the parents and students through a pathway that often is rough and stony. Think of me as someone who provides assurance and relevant information to help you make the best choices for your future. In some ways, I help streamline the journey for you, which should relieve some of the worry and pressure! That’s a service worth buying!!! I look forward to helping you with this exciting and successful transition in your life.