Path to Success

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In order to achieve success in the college admissions process, it is necessary to focus on three distinct phases in the life cycle of an application: the work that occurs before the active application process can begin, the work that occurs during the application process, and the follow-up work that must occur after decisions have been rendered.

Before the application process begins, we offer:

Student background analysis. We will analyze transcripts, high school activities, student/parent information sheets and standardized testing scores to determine introductory preferences and potential likely, middle, and reach schools. As we move through the college process together, this list will be adjusted as necessary. We will provide recommendations that will maximize the value of time and money spent visiting colleges.

Standardized testing strategies. We will examine scores to create a testing strategy that maximizes student success. Will the SAT or ACT be a better fit? Should the student focus on test-optional institutions? Which SAT II tests will reflect his abilities best, and when should he take them?

Activity guidance. We will work together to find summer and school year activities that best showcase student skills and interests. Which summer programs are viewed as “fluff?” Which extracurricular activities are immediately recognized as meaningful learning opportunities? Here is a hint – the most expensive programs are often the ones that matter the least. No matter the budget, we will find an enriching summer experience that will reflect positively upon the student during the application process. These may include academic courses, jobs, internships, and professional “shadowing” opportunities.

Identification and resolution of special circumstances that will affect the college admissions process for the student. Will she be a recruited athlete? Will he be a candidate for merit-based scholarships? Does she hope to specialize in a pre-professional program? We will focus our search on student specific needs in order to capitalize on any special circumstances that may exist.

Emphasis on demonstrated interest. We will develop an individualized, strategic plan that clearly demonstrates interest to college admissions officers. Any highly selective college admissions officer will let on that colleges truly “like to be liked,” and the use of demonstrated interest in the application process is one of the hidden secrets to finding success in this area. Most institutions, in fact, track student interest and use such information in the admissions process. There are certain steps that students can take to use this to their distinct advantage, and we will educate families about the process in order to capitalize on them.

Understatement of weaknesses in the student’s background. Are there any aspects of the student’s profile that might raise red flags to an admissions officer? For example, a poor grade in a class during a time in which a family member was ill? We will identify these potential blemishes before turning the tables and using them to our advantage in a two part process:

  1. Brainstorming a detailed plan to fix mistakes and solve the problems at hand.
  2. Using the learning process to reflect on the experience before creating a compelling explanation for the occurrence. This will show the admissions committee that the student has the maturity and motivation to problem solve and bounce back from adversity – qualities that are vital in order to succeed in a competitive college setting.

A strategic, balanced college list that incorporates reach, middle, and likely schools. Many students without appropriate guidance look back upon the college process in retrospect and realize that their college list was off-base. Our goal is to make sure that the student reaches as high as possible while simultaneously having an “insurance policy” of target and safety schools. We will work together to find an excellent match for your student.

During the application process, we offer:

Interview coaching. Interviews can truly make or break a candidate and it is imperative that the student enter the interview with confidence and ease. Our four-part time tested interview process will ensure that the student is wholly prepared for any college interviews. We will also discuss the differences in strategy that will be employed with alumni interviews, admissions officer interviews, and senior student interviews.

Essay revisions. From the first stages of the writing process to three a.m. emails with final drafts, we will be at the student’s side to make sure that every essay and short answer is perfect.

Application proofreading. It is important to have a trained eye read over all applications before submission. The smallest mistake or typo can instantly erase all of the hard work that students put into the entire college process.

Modifications of college list as needed. This is the most important aspect of this stage of the process, and requires constant strategic modifications. As things change (new SAT or ACT scores, decision letters come in and are favorable or otherwise, first trimester grades are released, etc.), we will constantly adjust and readjust your list to make sure that we are in good shape.

Continued help with demonstrated interest. As the months pass, we will continue to work together on emails and other methods of communication that can be used to demonstrate interest to college admissions officers.

Merit scholarship application assistance. We will examine comprehensive lists of merit scholarships to ensure that students apply to every scholarship for which they may be eligible.

Financial aid application assistance. Filling out the CSS Profile and FAFSA forms can be confusing and overwhelming. We will walk families through these steps with ease.

After decisions are released, we offer:

Deferral and waitlist action plans. Deferral and waitlist statistics can be notoriously grim, but there are certain actions that students can take to dramatically increase their chances. We will help students position themselves in the best possible light after having been deferred or waitlisted. Remember, good things come to those who wait (and do the right things)!

Financial aid and scholarship appeals. Many institutions are willing to negotiate and/or re-evaluate financial aid and scholarship packages. We will use our experience in this area to put together the most effective appeals possible to ensure that families receive the most aid possible

Final decision assistance. Often, students explain that the most challenging part of the college admissions process is deciding where to deposit after having been accepted into so many great institutions. We will work together to make sure that your family makes an educated, informed decision.