Q: Why hire a college admissions counselor?
A: Choosing and committing to an undergraduate education is a hugely impactful life decision—personally, academically, and financially. Guidance counselors and teachers at even the best high schools are stretched too thin to be available for the insightful coaching and detailed feedback that makes for an excellent set of applications. Peers flood students with misinformation. Teenagers get in their own way by not being disciplined in executing thorough research and writing multiple drafts over a period of several months, which are absolute requirements to getting positive results including admissions offers and merit scholarships. Plus, you don’t have time to waste—now or during that potentially directionless first year of college—you need guidance and a game plan. I provide the perspective, project management, and personal support that makes the difference.
Q: Why hire an independent college admissions counselor?
A: The majority of college admissions counselors hired by educational consulting companies are inexperienced and underqualified. They are given huge caseloads of students, minimal training, and even less authority to tailor their approach to what actually works. Fees for families are inflated while face time with the counselor is diminished. As an independent counselor with a proven track record, I can offer at least four times the amount of attention and support and an innovative approach that reflects changes in the market and particular needs of each student.
Q: Why have Skype rather than in-person meetings?
A: Skype meetings are incredibly convenient for both parents and students: no travel time and the option of meeting from home or another location. Nowadays, teens and young adults are increasingly comfortable with video chatting online and must have the skill set to do so in order to navigate job, internship, and even admissions interviews. We’d both be on our laptops the whole time as we talk anyway! While it’s common to be nervous before the first call, every student that meets with me once feels completely comfortable returning for subsequent meetings.
Q: How do I know your style of teaching will work for me? Can we do a free trial session?
A: I do not offer free counseling sessions, but do provide one half hour complimentary Skype session to each prospective student and their family—serious inquiries for long-term work only—so that I can answer questions about the counseling process and make sure this will be a good fit for everyone. I only agree to work with students I am certain I can help.
Q: Which students and parents do you choose to work with?
A: My process is holistic and centers emotional experience and intellectual insight. Students who want to engage in deep conversation, explore options for their future, analyze and improve their writing, as well as take responsibility for the assignments I give do very well with this process. While many of my students apply and get into top colleges, pursuit of elite admissions as the primary focus of this process is of no interest to me, and I decenter such an emphasis in our work…even if or when we work on such applications. I am open to working with any student but do prioritize counseling female, non-binary, transgender, LGBTQ+, and BIPOC candidates.
Parents who respect and trust their children to do their best work independent from constant supervision are most equipped to honor the parameters I set up for our time together. Aside from the monthly newsletter I send out covering timely topics, I do not have availability to regularly communicate with parents as my schedule is full supporting students.
Q: Can I just have you edit my essays and skip the meetings?
A: Some students come to me in the fall with drafts already prepared; if I have any openings, I occasionally agree to coach the final stages of those essays. Keep in mind that because we did not work together crafting the ideas to form these pieces that I may urge you to write on new topics if I feel that what you have is not competitive for your applications. Most students that come wanting only a last minute check have not developed their essays to the extent to which one polish would be enough. Additionally, late every fall I hear from a few people who regret their choice to go with counselors at well-known companies and want me to help them fix their essays in the little time they have left. Making sure hardworking students get their chances to be recognized by great colleges is of huge importance to me; I only wish I could rewind the clock and start during those latecomers’ junior year to work through the whole process together!
Q: Do you write students’ essays? Do you tell students exactly what to write? Can I see a sample of your writing?
A: Your work is your work. I help you draw ideas out of your brain and heart; give you feedback on different routes to take in your writing; urge you to reach greater heights and show you how; and make sure your grammar and spelling is on point (I catch things software doesn’t). But I do not write your work. Because there’s no magic formula in alive, authentic, compelling writing—there’s just excellent use of the tools at hand to support your ever-evolving perspective—there’s no way I could tell you exactly what to write (nor would that be helpful if I did). If you’re head editor at The New Yorker or McSweeney’s, I’m happy to send you a comedic sample! Otherwise, the thing to look for is not whether you enjoy my artistic style and content, but rather the strength of my ability to teach writing. See praise for some insights on past students’ experiences.
Q: What is the most common or helpful scenario for counseling with you?
A: Some of my students start working with me in their sophomore year with almost all of the rest beginning work with me in the fall or winter of their junior year, which means they are much more prepared and relaxed going into writing college application essays together. All complete YEAR OF TRANSFORMATION, which starts January of the junior year and runs through November of senior year (except for the one or two seniors I’ll add for App Season if there is room).
Q: How would you describe the students on your roster?
A: My students are primarily from the San Francisco Bay Area/Silicon Valley, but I have coached folks living in Colorado, Nevada, Washington, Virginia, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, the UK, Turkey, and India. They come from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds, and are often first generation American-born. Some identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community. Some are highly rational engineers and programmers. Some are deeply emotional artists and performers. Some are advocates of social justice and environmental issues. Some have dominated academically and some have struggled to prove themselves. Without exception, my students are all passionate, full of heart, and intellectually curious. In short: I love my students.