Let me provide structure and strategy in an active partnership with the student and family.
Tackling the process of college admissions takes knowledge, know-how and organization -- as well as perseverance, patience and grace. I pay careful attention to each step along the way, so that competitiveness doesn't outrun fit, while the student still makes the most of his or her potential. Whether they're interested in a few public universities or the most selective Ivy League colleges, whatever their GPA or ACT, students find I take the time to get to know them, appreciate their gifts, and help them prepare with anticipation for the next phase of their lives. My role is to help each individual identify and develop his or her own goals, passions and priorities. I then use my knowledge and experience to guide the student's research toward institutions where he or she will grow, thrive, and make a positive contribution to the community. Finally, we work together to make sure
the application in its entirety presents the best, most authentic version of each student.
Is this "packaging" a student? No. Is this application strategy? Yes! We develop the college application with an eye to communicating how this particular student will meet the college’s or university’s needs. A successful approach brings together knowledge of the student and knowledge of the decision-making process on the college side.
The three key stages in my strategic approach:
1. Understanding the Student
The "best" college will vary by student, so the first step must be a complete understanding of his or her personality, academic bent and social needs. I work with the student to review the transcript, high school profile and outside activities, discussing how well they reflect the student's actual talents and interests. Learning style, personality and career assessments add further dimensions to the picture. How does he learn best? What truly motivates her? What kind of environment will inspire him over the next four years? The anwers help the student understand not only what type of environment to look for, but how to be successful once on campus. Active listening (on my part) and self-reflection (on the part of the student) help construct a more complete picture of the whole person.
2. Making the Match
It takes a lot of "college knowledge" to match a student to a school that will provide the best education and experience for him or her. I visit more than 50 colleges a year, and talk with dozens of admissions officers and other counselors, to make sure I have current information about the schools I recommend. Many times, I find good alternatives that students might not otherwise have considered. "B" students or poor test takers can gain admission -- and merit money -- at a college that appreciates what the applicant brings to campus. Again, the student's involvement is key. I help guide the student through research, visits and interviews, and together we develop a balanced list, from "likely" to "reach" options, where the student would be happy to enroll.
3. Getting In
With the student's goals firmly established, we develop an application strategy for conveying to colleges why they should want this young person on their campus. We work together to make sure the key elements -- testing, essays, outside activities, academic achievements, interviews, visits, and early admission options -- all contribute to producing an applicant an admissions officer will love. Assessing the applicant pools represented by the student's college list can help direct the student's efforts to stand out. After all, schools aren't actually looking to admit the "best" students; they admit the students who best match what the college is looking for. Just as importantly, admissions officers (like everyone else) love a well-crafted story with a hero they can root for. I help the student develop and tell that story.
While gaining admission to competitive colleges clearly involves more than simply filling out a Common Application, it is also true that filling out applications -- with the management of detail inherent in that process -- is vitally important as well. The sooner a student starts working with me, the more groundwork will be completed by fall of senior year, making the "getting in" process that much smoother. I set timelines, assign incremental tasks, and help the student make sure nothing slips through the cracks. A good working relationship with a non-family member can reduce the pressure during this hectic time.