Top Questions Families Ask

It is really tough to get into a few colleges. Right now, the average admissions rate at all 4-year colleges in the U.S. is 65.8%. Most colleges admit most applicants, so both solid students and top students can be admitted to many fine colleges. On the other hand, even amazing high school students with top grades, tests scores, and extracurricular activities can’t be sure they’ll be admitted to the handful of “wild card” colleges that admit fewer than 10% of applicants.
We suggest that the families set aside a dedicated time each week to talk about the college process to prevent every conversation from becoming a conversation about college. Ultimately, it’s the student’s responsibility to get her applications done. We help by understanding all of the steps in the process and by dividing them up into manageable pieces. That means parents can nag less, and the whole family can enjoy life more.
We offer flexibility and choice. We start with an initial Focus Meeting so that students and families can see where the student lies in the vast world of college-going students. From there, families who want A to Z help with the college process can enroll in the Comprehensive College Package. Other families may decide to move forward on an hourly basis, to register their student for one or more of the workshops that we give, or may decide that they have enough information to move forward on their own. We will offer an opinion about how much assistance the student needs to achieve the family’s goals; the family decides how to move forward.
We can help students put their best foot forward. We can help students select and apply to colleges based on academic, social, and financial fit. We can only guarantee that a student will get into a particular college if that college publishes assured admission criteria and the student meets that criteria. Even though we look at what has happened in the past as a guide, each year brings changes that can’t be known ahead of time and which may affect who gets admitted, factors such as how many applicants will apply to any particular college this year, the credentials of those applicants, and the college’s admissions priorities for the year. Until we start to work with a student, we don’t know that student’s abilities and work ethic; those factors come into play as the student goes through the college process and will affect where the student is ultimately admitted to college. We can ensure that the student will be guided to take a thorough approach to selecting and applying to good fit colleges.
The high school GPA is the single best predictor of college success. Students who have less than a 3.0 unweighted high school GPA need to think carefully about whether they have or can acquire the study skills and the drive to succeed in a college environment. College is, after all, an academic undertaking. College is the first or second biggest expense for most families, so the decision about whether or not for a student to attend is a high-stakes decision. Sometimes students have had family or medical issues that have caused an occasional low grade. Those variations on the transcript of an otherwise solid student usually don’t affect a student’s ability to be successful in college. It’s pretty clear now that most students need to have some kind of post-high school learning to be financially successful as adults in the United States. There are other options for students if a 4-year college pathway isn’t right for them, options we can discuss at the Focus Meeting if it is appropriate to do so.
Absolutely! We use a step-by-step approach and the best college planning program available to minimize the stress for the student and the family. Students and their parents can each log into the program to see the current status of the college process at a glance. Having a responsive and knowledgeable person whom you can contact at any time with questions can reduce the anxiety often associated with the college process.
Yes, we can! Assessing the real options for the student whose family has been unable to save enough for college involves looking at his achievements in conjunction with the family’s financial situation. The higher education system in the United States is set up so that the family is expected to pay a calculated contribution for their student’s college education. K-12 education is a universal right in the U.S., but attending college is not. That’s beginning to change a bit with some recent tuition-free college programs. The great news is that there are college options for every student, and the higher the achievements of a student, the more options there are likely to be.
Current research shows that after correcting for a student’s pre-existing talent, ambition, and habits, it's hard to show that highly selective colleges add much earning power to most of their graduates. “Who you are” seems ultimately more important than “where you go.” However, First-Generation students, lower-income students, and minority students may gain a greater benefit from attending an elite university even though many struggle to feel comfortable in elite schools.
Right now! While we guide some families who come to us right before the student's senior year, coming earlier provides the most benefit because the student will get advice about course selection and extracurricular activities all along the way. Students who begin college counseling at a younger age will have more time for the career exploration that can be a factor in college and life success. More and more students are taking advantage of early application plans now, and financial aid forms can be filed sooner as well. Families need to get an earlier read on ways to minimize the financial impact of college because the “base year” used for financial aid forms for the student’s freshman year of college is from January of the student’s sophomore year of high school to December of the student’s junior year of high school. Families who delay seeking help may have fewer options for minimizing the financial impact of college on their family.

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