Why Academic Coaching Services?

  • What is an independent, college admissions “expert?”

An admissions expert is NOT someone who was previously admitted to an Ivy-league school or a parent who monitored the admissions process with a child and has now set up a shingle pretending to have comprehensive knowledge of the college admissions process. “Oh, I (or my son or daughter) got admitted, so I must know what it takes for the next person!” This is a fallacy and a rather ridiculous assertion.

Many factors are part of an admissions decision, and the reasons why one person gets admitted to a highly selective university are rarely identical reasons for another candidate with “similar” backgrounds. An admissions “expert” would know this.

  • Why makes you a college admissions expert, Mr. C?

Like any professional, I gained my expertise by developing my craft over a significant time period, effectively working with students and families from a variety of backgrounds, counseling students to understand their particular needs and goals, and developing and executing successful and effective admissions strategies. Over the past twenty years, I have visited and worked with hundreds of college admissions professionals, participated in many regional and conferences and workshops sponsored by universities and their admissions staffs (officers, deans, vice presidents, etc), visited dozens of campuses to see how particular programs work for students, and thoroughly educated myself on all aspects of the college admissions process. I have a wealth of knowledge about academic and college resources readily available to students and families, without the need to Google it.  Of course, my academic degrees from Northwestern and Harvard add just a little (but not too much) to my expert pedigree.

  • Why should I hire an independent college admissions consultant/counselor like you, Mr. C?

Applying to college can be easy. If as a student you completed a college prep curriculum, earned a 3.50 unweighted gpa, scored 30+ on the ACT test or 2000+ on the SAT test,  you can be admitted quite easily to over 3400 colleges & universities around the US. You don't need the support of an independent college consultant. If you are only applying to one or two local colleges, know why you have chosen said colleges, know this college is the best fit for you, and know beforehand that you won't be denied admission to your chosen college or university, then, you don't need the support of an independent college consultant.

If, however, you may be considering an application to the 50+ "selective" colleges or universities in the US, you may want more guidance, support, and mentoring from a full-time, professional, admissions consultant than available through your high school. Maybe you need help with writing stronger essays, or some time working on the reading portion of the SAT or ACT exams. Maybe you have no clue what type of college environment would fit your personality and interests well. Maybe you and your family are overwhelmed by the massive overflow of college brochures you've received in the mail or by email. Maybe you want someone independent to speak with you honestly about the differences between certain college campuses and how the independent consultant's personal experiences may offer information not widely available to all candidates. These are just a few reasons why my clients chose to work with me.

  • Isn't working with my high school counselor good enough? What is the difference between working with an independent college consultant versus working infrequently with my own school's guidance counselor?


Most students meet one-on-one with their school counselors about 5-6 hours during their high school careers; three-fifths of this time is usually for course planning & scheduling concerns. If your school offers more counseling than this, I'm happy for you. Take advantage of it.

As an independent counselor, I meet with my students 2-4 hours per week for 6-15 months, depending on when we start together (60-80+ hours)! Check. I get to know my students well by interviewing them frequently about personal goals, ideas, and/or ambitions; I also develop individualized college research plans that will address their particular needs. Check. I can help students identify meaningful experiences to add to personal resumes. Check. I can spend hours discussing current events, book themes, personal life stories, and other relevant topics to help students discover appropriate and effective topics for college essays and personal statements. Check. I review every essay written for content and message. Students need to find their voices (original perspectives) and to learn how to describe better their personal histories, goals, and college plans; for such students, our interactions are most effective and enriching. Check. I often work with my high-school graduates during college to prepare them for law, medical, dental, business or other graduate schools. I work with some students during and after college on meeting their academic goals. Check & mate.

  • My high school counselor or college admissions contact says I shouldn't "pay" for services that I receive for free in high school? What do you think?

Read above answer and then decide if a free service is really more beneficial to you! High schools love to advocate a "same for everyone" approach in their responses to everything done. Who is best served by this philosophy? As for the colleges, they're getting paid later by you. Boom!

  • College admissions reps say that paying for additional assistance in the college admissions process is unnecessary; I should do well using my own talents and energy. Should I work alone (or with just my family) in this process?

No college admissions representative can guarantee you a seat before you apply and there is absolutely no guarantee that you will receive any scholarship funds or financial aid if you are admitted.  So let's do some math.

Most private (or out-of-state), four-year, college costs range from $120,000 (seriously on the lower side of costs) to $260,000 (about what you should expect to pay if you're not attending your local community college. Wouldn't it be helpful (sometimes, even more profitable) to spend 1-3% of your total, expected college costs on working with a full-time, admissions expert who can guide your family through the process, help you produce stronger essays, and help your family make better choices about where & how to spend $200, 000?

Recently, one of my families paid $1000 for my admissions assistance. The student applied to several schools, including a few that I had suggested. When the process ended, the student had gained admissions to many outstanding schools and, in once instance, earned thousands of dollars in a guaranteed, four-year, full tuition scholarship worth $160,000 (not need-based).  Yes, this student had great scores and a solid transcript; but doesn't everyone else at the highest levels? Not everyone earned this same scholarship amount; this student received one of the few full scholarships available that year. Maybe rewriting her essays seven times (at my suggestion/encouragement) made a difference?

In any case, working with an independent consultant can be the wisest, financial choice a family can make. Every selective college will tell you that spending $200, 000 is an excellent (often required) choice for one's future success--and they spend thousands of dollars marketing this supposed reality to the public each year. Thus, spending $2000-3000 for expert advise and preparation can't be a total waste of money, in most cases, would it?

  • Do you work with all clients who contact you?

No. With any mentoring relationship, there should be a strong connection between the two parties. Some students/families love my honest, direct, intrusive approach, while others may wish to work with someone more “warm and fuzzy.” I’m not very fuzzy! (lol)

But I am charming none-the-less. I prefer to speak with my potential students for a few sessions to make sure we can work well together. I am a coach. Some students need and want coaching. These are students who bring with them a lot of energy but also need someone to direct their energies and focus on the most important action plans and agendas.

  • There are many admissions experts who claim that their clients are always admitted to their “top choices” or the Ivy League colleges? Why do you not make similar claims about your academic coaching program?

Ring. Ring. “Hello, Mrs. Smith? This is the [Harvard, Stanford, Yale, etc.] Admissions’ office. We just wanted to let you know that after reading 40,000 applications and selecting 2000 students for admission, we want to congratulate you as the Best/Most Successful College Consultant this year! We were able to determine [somehow] exactly which of the 40,000 students applying to our college used a consultant (although this information is totally unavailable to us), and we calculated that your admissions percentage was the highest of all of the 700 or so known independent consultants who had students applying to our freshman class. It doesn’t matter that we actually don’t know all 700 consultants around the world who work with students—not including the dozens of community-based programs and services that work with families, but please, feel free to tell everyone in the country that YOU indeed are the most successful, college consultant in existence. I’m sure everyone to whom you guaranteed a seat at our school received one. [Not!] We are so proud not to know you, personally!!

  • I am an international student applicant, how do I write an effective college admissions essay?

First, write the essay yourself.  US colleges and universities have experienced a rash of "generic" essays during the past few years.

To write a strong essay, write clearly about...yourself. When seeking to admit any student, including students from abroad, American universities seek interesting and vibrant applicants. Basically, I want to know, from your essay, if I would want to hang out with you outside of the classroom as well as work with you within one. Discuss your passions, intellectual interests, hobbies, creative abilities, or any other subject that describes more of your own motivations, dreams, or personality. Tell us stories. This is not a research paper, so don't make your essay sound like one! Sometimes, I tell my students to write the essay as a blog or journal entry to their friends; then clean it up to make it something adults will want to read, too! Have fun and enjoy!

  • Is a college admissions interview necessary for an international student?

As a former interviewer (for Harvard--21 years), I believe that most, if not all, interviews for many selective universities are necessary. Interviewers are advocates for their candidates. A great interview can definitely enhance a student's candidacy and provide unique information not apparent on a written application. Students should accept any opportunity they have to discuss their personal goals, academic interests, readiness for college, and reasons for their college selections. More often than not, interviews can help more than they can hurt (unless you are totally unprepared, appear disinterested, or pretend to be smarter and/or more informed than your interviewer. [Just sayin’]



General Topics (some answers I've posted to various admissions blogs over the years):

  • What are the differences between college and conservatory dance departments?

In some settings, conservatory and college dance departments can be similar, but my understanding is that the peripheral activities for students vary greatly depending on whether one is enrolled in a college program or a conservatory. Conservatories are dedicated, comprehensive programs focused on developing a student's talents for professional exposure and/or placements. While conservatory programs many vary individually, students are usually screened to allow only the most gifted and motivated artists to be selected for work with a master teacher or artists. On the other hand, performance departments within a college setting usually offer greater variability with regards to the expertise required for selection and participation. Students often enroll in college departments may enjoy dance (or even musical theatre) and wish to improve their talents, but some may not wish to commit to a professional career as a performer. To my understanding, a college program may set the stage for professional work, but may not provide the comprehensive training to elevate one's abilities from school to stage. Some dance professionals have told me that if a student wishes to work on stage as a career, he or she should forgo college and enroll at a conservatory, where students do not have the "distractions" of college life or other academic requirements needed to earn a degree. I don't feel qualified to comment on this debate, but if professional selection and performance is the ultimate goal for a student, I usually suggest that she or he explore the conservatory route first.

  • What can I do with a major in the arts if I don't get full-time work as a performer /artist ?

Many businesses and organizations employ students who have studied fine and performing arts for an array of tasks and jobs needed. Sales and marketing positions are often available to artists because of the vibrancy, poise, and acumen needed to connect with consumers. An engaging smile or ability to build rapport well with clients and customers can't always come from someone with a business degree; so, actors, dancers, or musicians--those comfortable in public-- make great customer relations and outreach representatives. Artists can use their talents to help create marketing materials or light up an office space. So, never listen to people who say artists can't get work. These people have never owned a business (like I do)!

Have a question? Feel free to ask! Email us at: academicoaching@yahoo.com