Navigating the College Admissions Process
Our qualified, experienced college advisors deliver expert guidance to our students throughout the college admissions process. Partnering with these experienced professionals, our highly motivated, high-achieving college students – our Campus Coaches – provide our clients with the benefit of their own experience to successfully complete their applications within the deadlines, to write powerful essays, and to prepare for the SATs/ACTs, while maintaining focus on their schoolwork, extracurricular activities, and community service commitments.
These are the steps each student and their family will take through the college admissions process:
Student Intake. No two students are alike. In this step, we gain as much knowledge about each student as we can as quickly as possible. We obtain information from the students about their academic record (GPA, class rank, rigor of curriculum), their standardized test scores, their extracurricular activities, and perhsps most importantly, their personal qualities. We also obtain significant input from their parents that is often so critical in gaining a more clear understanding of the students and their needs. Parents know their children better than anyone, and we have found their perspective to be highly insightful.
College Self-Assessment. The college search process starts with understanding one’s self. In this step, each student evaluates themselves in such areas as their thirst for knowledge, their level of independence, their career orientation, and their eagerness for college. Once a student gains this self-understanding, they are able to identify the factors that are most important to them in selecting the right college, including: college size, level of academic intensity, geographic or regional location, campus setting (urban, suburban, rural), any specific academic program, as well as any social, cultural, or religious factors.
Initial College List. Our college advisors consider many factors in developing a student’s initial college list, including their grades and standardized test scores, as well as their special interests and preferences, a swell as the financial needs of the family. It is very important that the list have schools of varying selectivity, i.e., schools where admission should be relatively easy (safeties), schools where admission will be difficult (reaches), and schools that are somewhere in between (targets).
College Research. Our college advisors provide our students with a suggested list of print and online resources for researching the colleges on their list. Students add and subtract colleges from the list based on their research and discussions with their college advisors, their Campus Coaches, and our Campus Connections – students at colleges across the country who can answer specific questions about various aspects of campus life.
Student Resume. We assist our students in developing a resume that highlights their academic honors, their extracurricular accomplishments, their community service activities, as well as their athletic achievements. We recommend that the student provide this resume at interviews and give it to their guidance counselor and teachers to assist with letters of recommendation. This resume is also very helpful for completing the activities section of college applications.
Campus Visits. The campus visit is perhaps the most important component of the research process. Once students have narrowed down their college list, we encourage families to visit as many of the colleges as possible. On each college campus, we strongly recommend that our students and their parents meet with our “Campus Connection,” who arranges face-to-face meetings with other members of the campus community, in order to provide an in-depth perspective in specific areas of interest.
Interview Coaching. Colleges may conduct personal interviews with admissions officers during campus visits or with alumni representatives in the student’s local area. We offer to prepare our students by conducting practice interviews, so they can present themselves in an appropriate manner, by accentuating their strengths, minimizing any weaknesses, and demonstrating a knowledge of the school.
Essay- Writing. Admissions officers at selective colleges agree that essays can be critical to the selection process, largely because they can provide the only opportunity for them to hear directly from the applicant. We have met with many admissions officers so that we understand what they are looking for in a personal statement or other essay. We are experts in helping our students to craft truly original essays with compelling themes that will make a strong, indelible impression on the reader. We truly pride ourselves on our ability to help students present themselves in a truly unique and memorable manner.
Letters of Recommendation. Students often pay little attention to recommendations, and this is a big mistake. They should look for teachers who know them very well, not necessarily those teachers who gave them the best grades. Ideally, the teachers who are writing recommendation letters should know the student both in and out of the classroom, so they can provide details and anecdotes that portray positive aspects of the student’s character. Our experienced college advisors show our students whom to ask, how to ask, and when to ask, so they get the best possible recommendations.
Final Application List. Based on the student’s research, college visits, their contact with our Campus Coaches and/or Campus Connections, and then taking into account any new changes in interests, preferences, or academic status, we work with the student to identify the final list of schools to which he or she will apply. It is again important that the list be balanced in terms of selectivity, with a roughly equal number of safeties, reaches, and targets.
Application Preparation. Students are often intimidated by all the work required to complete their applications. This is where the experience of our Campus Coaches is particularly valuable. They assist our students in completing their applications in a timely and efficient manner, making sure that all transcripts, letters of recommendation, and test scores are sent to the colleges. Our college advisors pay particularly close attention to the activities section of the applications, and help students describe their accomplishments in a concise but compelling manner.
College Selection. Once all of the acceptances are received, it is a good idea for students and parents to pay yet another visit to those schools that are still under consideration. We highly recommend that they meet with our Campus Connection and other members of the campus community (as arranged by the Campus Connection) at each school, so that all remaining questions are answered. Our college advisors provide recommendations based on their considerable experience, but the student and their parents make the final decision.