College Admissions

Because our work with students is highly individualized, we don’t outline or create a “program” for students before we work with them. Most students who work with us fully (i.e., who are not “essay only” students) receive monthly counseling. This counseling is focused on assisting with what we have determined to be the three most important elements of the college application process beyond grades and test scores, which are also the counseling elements in which we excel:

  1. Academic narrative and resume development: Colleges aim to create diverse, well-balanced classes made up of students with a range of interests. For this reason, many colleges will consider your major of interest when making admissions decisions—and certain majors can make you more (or less!) likely to be accepted. For instance, it is easier to get into some schools as an English major than as an engineering, business, or CompSci major because many schools have fewer English-major-interested applicants and, ultimately, graduates. However, major selection is not an easy “back door” to every school because you can only apply as an intended English major if you have coursework and extracurriculars that demonstrate your interest and excellence in the field. If a student comes to us with no idea what they want to study or with an intended major that is not supported by their resume, we will work with them to identify and build an academic narrative. This narrative is not an “extra”: it is often the difference between an acceptance and a rejection at a highly selective school.
  1. College list and application strategy: Your list is only as good as the strategy driving it. Our role is to help you understand how the application rounds work at each school on your student’s list and develop a strategy that maximizes their chance of being accepted to their top school(s). We also make sure your student’s schools are realistic choices for their profile, taking into consideration our specialized knowledge of what different schools value. We will suggest schools to balance the list and round out the strategy if needed.
  1. Essays: Essays can make or break an application; no application is ever memorable because of a GPA, a test score, or even an impressive extracurricular position. Our essay coaching process is far more than an editing service. We help students uncover their stories and choose which ones to tell, understand the essay prompts, and tackle the essay writing process in less time with less stress. Essay coaching also includes process management, including the creation of timelines and internal deadlines.

 Note: Essays are especially important for students applying to top-tier schools as well as for any who are applying test-optional or to a test-free/test-blind school.

We can also help with the following college planning and application-related tasks, but you need to let us know you want this support. We don’t just go ahead and, for example, spend 30 minutes reviewing your Common App data unless you reply to the email we send about it and ask us to. If you are “essay-only,” you will not get emails from us about non-essay components of the process.

We find that students who let us help beyond the three elements of the college search and application process above have far better admissions outcomes; if you sign on to work with us comprehensively, we expect you to take advantage of most of the services and support we offer. We can suggest which services you will benefit from the most since every student is different.

  • High school course selection
  • Program applications and the development of extended narrative-building projects
  • How to approach testing and the test-optional movement
  • School outreach and strategic demonstrated interest
  • Application data review (Common App, UC app, etc.) and final reviews (FRs)
  • Social media audit and digital profile/portfolio guidance
  • Interview preparation
  • Update correspondence/interest letters
  • Deferral and waitlist strategy

What don’t you help students with?

We do not help students/families:

  • Appeal admissions decisions
  • Navigate “connections” with development offices, board members, trustees, or other channels to help your student gain an “edge” in admissions
  • Determine how to best pay for college. If you would like a referral for an Independent Educational Consultant who specializes in paying for college, we can provide one

We also don’t provide day-by-day, step-by-step “to-do” lists or daily check-ins/reminders. But we do help our comprehensive students stay organized, on task, and a bit ahead of the game by:

  • Sending a monthly action plan with what they need to be thinking about or working on
  • Giving them a timeline for completing tasks related to applications (essays, resume, application data)
  • Periodically checking in with them (and parents, if requested) to remind them of deadlines or to follow up if they have missed our internal deadlines
  • Setting up a monthly or even weekly check-in call during crunch time to help them stay on task or complete essays (weekly = rarely necessary, but some of our essay coaches can do this)!
  • Sending additional knowledge-sharing correspondence that helps students understand every step of the process and how to maximize one’s chances of getting in even after pressing submit

Pricing for our services is shared after your consultation call.

We feel strongly that honest, accurate advice and support should be accessible. We will work to make our services fit your budget to the best of our ability. We invite you to read our blog as well as join our Facebook group, Conquer the Common Application. Although it is a private group, anyone—not just formal clients—can request to join to access free information and advice. For essay guidance, you can also grab a copy of The Complete College Essay Handbook. If cost is a barrier, please email us, and we will send you one. 

Please fill out the contact form to schedule a free 20-minute consultation.