Naturally conservative, most people stick with what they know, with what has become comfortable. This truism extends to many corners of our lives. We see the results from our own corner from which we provide educational planning and college counseling, information that many students and families lack.
Such families who enter the maze of college planning for the very first time are often loathe to admit that they may not have all the facts—to say the least. At worst, some families and students avoid asking questions for fear of appearing inadequate, uninformed, and uneducated. Year after year, we observe students and parents caught in a vicious cycle of poor planning that can be avoided, with misinformation that leads to false steps and missed opportunities.
What exactly is the alternative, for instance, to running blind into the maelstrom of the college application process? What do we service providers actually provide? From time to time, we find it reasonable to restate our reason for being, our purpose, our goals, so that students and parents can make thoughtful, reasoned choices about educational planning. So, here’s our take.
We are the Wikipedia of college planning. We have visited hundreds of campuses. We keep abreast of currents on hundreds more. Our horizon is filled not with the several dozen brand- name schools that families gravitate toward, but rather with the thousands of institutions that offer undergraduate and graduate programs. That means that we can profile a school to see how its offerings match the qualities of a student—and, vice versa, we gather insightful information about a student in order to match her or him to the right set of schools.
Considerations are many: location (urban, suburban, rural); cost; student body size; sports—NCAA Div. I, II, or III; facilities; breadth of major offerings; accommodations for learning challenges; etc. Ours is as near a total picture as you’re likely to find. But, more importantly, your time is our time: we college planners treat you as “the one and only,” not as a last name-first name with five minutes of face time in a cramped office. And then, there’s the mentoring.
We don’t simply lay out the facts, open the brochures, or dive into websites. We really educate students and families in such as way as to make the abstract (going off to school somewhere) into something real and concrete (this is going to happen to you). We talk to students about the importance of extracurricular activities in their lives, not just as involvements that may draw positive attention from college admissions personnel, but as life-long enrichment opportunities that help develop passions as well as leadership skills for years to come. We teach students about college graduation and core curriculum requirements; what it means to declare a major, a double-major, or a minor; the difference between large state universities and small liberal arts or specialty colleges; and much more. We enlighten families about the necessity to visit colleges and demonstrate interest early in the process.
Whether it’s conveying the thought process of the admissions officer, enthusiastically suggesting why it’s important to buckle down in high school courses, or explaining the distinctive differences in atmosphere between the early teenage years spent in high school and the more maturing experience at a college away from home, we talk the talk as whole-student educators who blend advice, philosophy, pragmatism, goals, and expectations into a complete picture.
Let’s reiterate the essence of our work: professional and comprehensive educational planning which ensures that both students and parents achieve what’s really possible in the school choice process. That’s what we’re all about.