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The nature of my college consulting work varies greatly depending upon many factors. The discussion below outlines a fairly typical path for a family that approaches me at the end of their child’s sophomore year of high school.

The First Steps

I start by learning about your child’s experiences, interests, strengths and weaknesses, and ambitions for the future. I also look to understand the family’s goals and constraints at the same time.


For some families, the goal is simple: to get a child into the most elite college possible (consistent with his or her educational and extracurricular needs and desires). For others, an exploration of cost-effective alternatives will be important.  This may involve exploring foreign universities, inexpensive colleges for the first years followed by transfer to a fancier school, honors programs within state flagships, lucrative scholarship programs at particular schools, and many other possibilities. 


I help develop a coherent strategy to follow during the college application process.

  • I advise regarding how best to explore and evaluate college options, whether by visiting schools, comparing and contrasting via web research, or other means.

  • I help develop a comprehensive positioning strategy. This involves marketing your child’s strengths, accounting for or overcoming her weaknesses, and making her as interesting and compelling a candidate as possible.

  • Ultimately, I advise you and your child on whether you should consider applying Early Decision or Early Action to a particular college (or colleges).

  • I help you and your child develop standout applications tailored to each school.

Soliciting Recommendations

Getting the best from recommenders is often one of the most difficult—and one of the most overlooked—tasks in the application process.

  • I analyze your child’s application in its entirety and determine what is most needed from her recommenders to fill in the gaps, enhance her strengths, and compensate for her weaknesses.

  • I provide advice on how to approach recommenders tactfully, and how to provide them with the information we would like conveyed in their letters of recommendation.

  • I assist recommenders (if desired) to develop high-impact letters of endorsement.

Assembling Resumes

The Common Application activities resume (unfortunately often termed the “brag sheet”) is an important part of your child’s application.  No less important, however, is a resume that helps admissions officers understand her application and provides (alumni) interviewers with a map of what to discuss with your child.

  • I will help her put together winning resumes of both types.

Essay Writing

For most of my clients, essay writing is an area of particular concern.

  • Part of our work together will involve crafting themes that convey a consistent and solid message across all of the essays and the rest of the application.

  • I help your child evaluate and develop ideas for each of the various essays she will need to write, making the most out of her experiences and strengths.

  • I edit essays and provide advice on essay structure and form, yet strive to do so in a way that retains a client’s own voice, style, and personality.


Please note that I do not write essays for my clients
under any circumstances.


Interviews for undergraduate admissions are often daunting for high schoolers who have never experienced the interview process. I’ll teach your child how to approach her interviews with confidence and to make a positive impression. This often involves one or more mock interview sessions.

  • I will coach her on successful interviewing techniques, providing assistance not only regarding what to say but how to say it, what to wear, and how to act in a variety of formal and informal interview settings.

Final Decisions

Once the decisions roll in, there may still be work to be done.  I will help you and your child:

  • Maneuver for more financial aid.

  • Select the right school.

  • Determine whether to take a gap year and, if so, how to plan for it.

  • Get ready for college.


Getting Started: Timing

Some of my most successful clients sign up for my help several years in advance of actually applying to college in order to discuss long-term strategy and goals that need to be in place before applications are under way.

On the other hand, some clients come to me at a later stage in the process—at the beginning of senior year or even later. I realize that many high school students (and their families) do not give much thought to the college application process before it is suddenly upon them, in many cases overwhelming them.  I am prepared to help you at any point in your college application work and encourage panicked parents to contact me for immediate assistance.

Typical Concerns of My College Clients

General issues:

  • What college admissions impact will my current activities have?

  • What are my chances of getting into school X?

  • Should I take a gap year? What sort of option should I consider? How do I figure this out?

  • How should I spend my next summer?

  • What impact will that have on my chances of admission?

  • Is it worth paying a fortune for a private college?

  • Is it easy to transfer out of my local community college to a top college? How about from my local (non-flagship) state university?

  • How much are my employment prospects likely to improve by going to school X rather than school Y?

  • Is it important to visit colleges? How do I choose the ones to visit?  When should I do so?

  • How many colleges should I apply to? Which ones?

  • How important are the rankings? Which ones?


Admissions issues:

  • What are top schools looking for?

  • Should I take an AP course that I won’t ace or a regular level course that I will?

  • Should I take the SAT or ACT?

  • Which subject tests should I take?

  • What do you make of my unfortunate SAT score? Do I need to retake it? What sort of preparation should I undertake?

  • Can I still get into school X in spite of my mediocre GPA?

  • What do I need to disclose about my misconduct matters? What will be the admissions impact? What can make up for these missteps?

  • What do you mean, “How shall we position you?” What does “positioning” mean?  What impact will it have?

  • Should I submit the same Common Application to all the schools I apply to?

  • Should I apply Early Action? Early Decision? To which school(s)?

  • Should I try to interview at each school that offers interviews? How can I get ready to interview?

  • What will happen if my spring grades are not great?

Post-Admissions issues:

  • Should I do anything in particular to prepare for college?

  • Should I aim to get the general education (distribution) requirements out of the way as soon as possible?

  • What are the lesser known ways to get the most out of the experience at college X?

  • Should I try to transfer? If so, what do I need to do to maximize my chances of transfer success?

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