It’s a common question that we are all asked probably at least once per day; “What do you do for a living?” And my answer: “I’m a college admissions coach,” often prompts another question right on its heels . . .”What is that?”
I answer to two titles: college admissions “coach” or “counselor.” Either way, here is what we do and why any family about to embark on the college admissions process, should think about seeking our help.
At the College Advisor of New York, every family works with one college admissions coach through their student’s college admissions process. That means that from the day you walk through our doors until May 1 of your student’s senior year, there will be an experienced professional guiding you from start to finish. We carefully shepherd families through all phases of what can be a very intimidating, confusing and yes, expensive endeavor. When all is said and done, most colleges cost somewhere between $100,000 and $250,000 – per child. And this is, of course, paid with after tax dollars. So for most families, paying their child’s (or usually children’s) tuition is the single most costly endeavor they will undertake other than purchasing a home
Back to the question of “what we do.” Our coaches work 1:1 with students early on in our process to establish a pattern for majors and careers. We do this via a unique set of assessments that also aids us in determining a good social and academic fit for them. At the same time, our financial aid counselors are working with parents to determine what their financial fit is, as well as how to maximize financial aid and scholarships. This help extends into the senior year when we help families file the necessary financial aid forms.
Given the huge shortage of guidance counselors in high schools across the country, there is now, more than ever, significant value in having us give your child this personalized advantage. We are also very careful which coach works with which student; it’s not a random assignment. We have nine college admissions coaches, all with unique talents, and we pair them very carefully with students based on personality and learning style. This also means that our admissions coaches work with fewer than 20 students each year. Contrast that with the average student to counselor ratio in our nation’s high schools of 471 students for every one counselor, and you see how much more attention and guidance you’ll receive.
Our students are given a personalized list of colleges that accurately reflects results compiled from the recipe above, blended with their grades, scores and specific needs. The list is provided along with advice on how to research and visit colleges. It is based on our staff’s visits to more than 300 colleges over the years. We help students refine their list as they make their own visits, until we arrive at an appropriate number of schools for the student to apply to.
Our coaches then work painstakingly (and again, 1:1) with their students to brainstorm, write and submit some of the best college essays out there. And these just aren’t words with no substance to back them up . . .every season our students receive notes back with their acceptances stating that their essay was “compelling”, “unique”, “exceptional” – those are just a few of the adjectives we’ve heard. And here is the perfect time for my once per blog shameless plug: at the College Advisor of New York, our acceptance rate is 91% compared to the national average of 62%- the numbers here don’t lie We understand what colleges are looking for in an essay (and it’s not what your English teacher might be telling you). We don’t write essays for students; instead we coach them to craft a piece of original writing that reflects a slice of their “story” that stands out. Another common question? “Is the essay really that important?” and the answer is a resounding “YES.” It is often the difference between the small envelope and the fat one.
We also keep students on track, and parents at bay, so that the student is empowered to own their admissions process. In the end, we help families make the best decision possible based on all of their options. And, because we know this field so well, our students have a multitude of options when May 1 of senior year finally rolls around. But, the decision isn’t always clear cut – school A over school B? Take out a loan for a more prestigious name vs. no loans and merit money at your safety school? It can be agonizing, but we coach you there too. We help you to tune out the noise and focus on what really matters. And we’ve come to know families and students so well by this time that we understand what matters to them, because it’s different with each family.
So, that is why when we sit down at our final decision meetings, we so often hear eight words that warm our hearts: “We could never have done this without you.” For an admissions coach, hearing this means we’ve achieved our goal. And after all, any coach’s job (athletic or scholastic) is to guide, assist, nudge, mentor, strengthen and cheer. We are there with you, on the sidelines and in the game, from start to finish.