Many students worry about college admissions, because they see it as something to win or lose. They focus on schools that are popular or well-known, rather than considering what factors would make a college a good match for them. Parents worry if they haven’t heard of a college, their kid wouldn’t get a good education there. They may wonder about the value of an unfamiliar college or where to even start. Admissions Decrypted helps students and families approach college admissions with calm, clarity, & confidence.

The Bad News

College admissions is unpredictable and not easily reduced to a formula or checklist.  Highly selective colleges turn down thousands of applicants each year. In fact, the most selective colleges routinely turn down 85-95% of applicants — even though those students are highly qualified. Many colleges have seen big increases in applications over the past few years, but haven’t increased the size of their incoming classes. This means they have to turn down more well-qualified students each year.

The Good News

Good colleges aren’t limited to schools that have single digit admissions rates. Research shows that student engagement is a better indicator of success than college ranking, which means students can and should look beyond the “usual suspects” to find colleges where they are likely to thrive.

Because there are many colleges where students can thrive, my advising approach includes many services that help students and families articulate their priorities.  I work with seniors who need support as they work through their application; juniors who are deciding what type of college is a good match; and younger students who want guidance on course selection and activities that could give them experience in areas of interest.

How I Can Help

Because students get the most benefit when they have time to research colleges and reflect on their priorities, I recommend starting to work with a consultant by junior year of high school. I offer both comprehensive packages and hourly services, so that families have can choose the consulting services that meet their needs. 

Comprehensive packages are best for students who want a full range of services, including help developing a college list. Typically I start working with package students between the spring of sophomore and winter of junior year. Packages include preliminary exploration and assessment, essay coaching, and support during the college application cycle.

Packages cost $2,500-$7,500 (Most clients pay $5,000 for 12-16 months of services.)

Hourly services are best for students or families that have a specific focused need, like guidance in applying to military college programs, coaching for 1-2 essays, or help documenting homeschool academics. Hourly services are designed for self-starters, who need a little extra guidance.

Hourly services cost $200 per hour.

During our initial meeting, we can discuss what services are right for your family. Use my Contact page to schedule an inquiry call.

Services Available

Students have different goals and needs, so I tailor services to each specific situation. These are some of the services available from Admissions Decrypted.

Student Assessment – Surveys, conversations, and reflective exercises help the student discover and describe their goals and academic interests.

Activities and Resume – We explore how the student can take next steps in their interest areas, whether that is exploring a new area or digging deeper into a current interest.

Testing Timeline – When should a student take the SAT or ACT? Does applying Test Optional make sense? What about testing for scholarships, as a homeschooler, or for programs like nursing or education?

College List Development – A balanced list includes colleges that are a good match academically, socially, and financially, at a range of admissions selectivity.

Military Academy and ROTC Scholarship Support – These applications have unique requirements and timelines. I help the student understand the different program options and stay on track with the applications.

Understanding Financial Aid – We discuss how colleges assess financial need, what type of aid is available and likely, and how to determine which schools are likely to be affordable to the family.  This may include a discussion of how to best utilize educational benefits like state grants and GI Bill.

Essay Coaching – Applications use personal statements and other written responses to get a better picture of who the student is. I work with students to help them tell the “rest of the story” that doesn’t come across in grades and test scores. During this process, the student’s story and voice are kept at the forefront.

College Applications – The mechanics of the actual applications can feel overwhelming.  We work together to ensure that applications are complete, insightful, and on time.

Homeschooler Support

Recently homeschooling has grown significantly in the US, with some estimates that the number of homeschool students doubled in 2020. Whether your family is new to homeschooling or has years of experience, you might be wondering how college admissions works for homeschoolers. The good news is that homeschoolers are widely accepted to colleges — even highly selective schools. The same goals of academic, social, and financial fit apply.

Homeschool families often face additional requirements, such as creating transcripts, course descriptions, school profiles, and counselor recommendations that describe the homeschool student’s educational experience.  It’s important that homeschoolers work early to outline their goals, so they can weigh the value of outside coursework and specific activities. With nearly two decades experience homeschooling, I have deep expertise in this area. Support for homeschoolers is included in comprehensive packages.

Let’s Get Started

If you’re ready to discuss how I can help your family, use the Contact page to get the ball rolling.

If you’re still considering if working with an Independent Educational Consultant makes sense for your family, you might want to read the post Why Use an Independent Educational Consultant.