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College Consulting

Frequently Asked Questions

When and how do I start with College Crossroads Consulting?

The first step in this process is to provide your contact information. Within two business days, you will be contacted by College Crossroads Consulting. We offer a free one-hour family meeting. During this time, both the student and their parent can determine if they are comfortable with our approach and whether the fit feels right for both the student and the consultant. After this meeting, if agreeable to both parties, a contract will be sent via email.

How does College Crossroads Consulting work with students?

For the Comprehensive Program, an independent educational consultant will work with no more than 15 seniors in any given year. Our approach guides the student to thoughtfully develop a list of colleges and the list of activities and accomplishments. We also provide testing advice and, of course, essay brainstorming and development. The student must commit to putting in the time to create the best possible applications to submit to the schools by their application deadlines.

When should a family start working with an independent educational consultant?

Our rule of thumb is that earlier is better. It is most beneficial for the student to meet during their freshman or sophomore year or at the beginning of their junior year. We can start to talk about classes to take or summer opportunities to pursue, so again, the earlier, the better.

College Crossroads Consulting starts meeting regularly with students in January of junior year, and if a student begins in the first half of the year, there is usually time to catch up.

The first five months consist of monthly meetings. As time goes on, the frequency of meetings increases, and we will meet with students weekly in the fall of their senior year. Beyond that, we are available for advice and guidance once students receive their college decisions in the spring.

What are the most critical dates in terms of application deadlines?

Your senior’s first semester will be a busy one. Here are the deadlines:

  • November 1st – most early decision/early action applications
  • November 15th – University of Washington regular decision application
  • November 30th – all UC/CSU applications
  • January 1st – 15th – most regular decision applications

What is meant when a college says they conduct a holistic review of each application?

As the University of Virginia states in its admissions blog,
“Compare your application to a puzzle… In a holistic review, you look at all pieces of the applicant’s puzzle together before you make your decision.

The largest, most central piece of your puzzle is your transcript. This shouldn’t be a surprise since your transcript represents four years of academic development…..The other components fall in around the four years of academic work you’ve been doing. I’m sure you can imagine the bigger pieces: recommendation letters bring the academic data to life, and essays are where we get to hear your voice.

As we read, the puzzle comes together. All of the pieces are important, but they vary in size. The testing piece is a four-hour piece of your puzzle. It’s obviously important because it contributes to the overall pictures, but it is one component among many, and there are other parts of the puzzle that are larger and take considerably longer to evaluate.

UVA goes on to say, “All components of the application will be considered when rendering a decision.

We believe that this is an accurate way to think about how admissions committees work. What is not addressed is how they shape a class at each college. This means that a person can be qualified to attend but is denied admission because of institutional considerations.

What do colleges look for in high school applicants?

According to the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA), a group that most independent educational consultants belong to, colleges look for:

  • A rigorous high school curriculum that challenges the student and may include AP or IB classes;
  • A high grade point average earned in core subjects. However, slightly lower grades in a rigorous program are preferred to all A’s in less challenging coursework. They like to see an upward trajectory in grades;
  • High scores on standardized tests (ACT, SAT). These should be consistent with high school performance;
  • Passionate involvement is demonstrated in a few meaningful activities, inside or outside of the school;
  • Writing a well-written essay that provides insight into the student’s unique personality;
  • Leadership inside or outside of school, depth, rather than breadth, of leadership is valued;
  • Demographic and personal characteristics that contribute to a diverse and interesting student body;
  • Strong counselor/teacher recommendations that provide personalized references;
  • Special talents that could contribute to campus life;
  • Intellectual curiosity is exhibited through reading, research, and extracurricular pursuits;
  • Student’s character and values are conducive to being a good community member;
  • Demonstrated interest and enthusiasm in attending (through campus visits, etc.).

Is there any sense of meritocracy when a college considers an application?

Unfortunately, college admissions committees do not evaluate an application based on whether a student deserves to be included as part of their freshman year class. The most competitive colleges/universities receive applications from many students who have perfect GPAs, standardized test scores, and many accomplishments through their extracurricular activities. They could fill their class several times over with qualified students who would do well there.

Today, many colleges are not necessarily looking for well-rounded students; they are looking for a well-rounded class. The lesson here for everyone is to encourage students to find activities in high school to pursue because they love them. They should not participate in activities only to check a box. Ultimately, students will be disappointed if their end goal is to get into one specific college. Remember to keep an open mind and that no one school is the perfect fit; rather, there are several.

If possible, should a student take a standardized test (ACT/SAT)?

COVID -19 temporarily changed the testing policies for many colleges to test-optional. In some cases, such as the University of California application, standardized test scores are no longer considered. We continue to recommend to clients that until every single college decides to become test-blind, meaning they don’t look at the test scores at all, students should still take the test. Depending on school policies, level of school competitiveness, and the student’s test results, a recommendation will be made on a college-by-college basis on whether to submit test scores.

How does your student find the perfect college fit?

Work with College Crossroads Consulting! Together, we will find the profile of that perfect fit college for your student. And, then we will create a list of colleges that match your student’s preferences. There are many colleges where your student will thrive.

What Questions Should Be Asked Before Hiring an Independent Educational Consultant (According to the IECA)?

  1. Do you guarantee admission to a school, one of my top choices, or a certain minimum dollar value in scholarships? (Do NOT trust any offer of guarantees.)
  2. Do you belong to any professional associations?
  3. Do you attend professional conferences or training workshops on a regular basis to keep up with regional and national trends and changes in the law?
  4. Do you ever accept any form of compensation from a school, program, or company in exchange for placement or a referral? (They absolutely should not!)
  5. Will you complete the application for admission, rewrite my essays, or fill out the financial aid forms on my behalf? (No, they should NOT; it is essential that the student be in charge of the process and all materials should be a product of the student’s own, best work.)
  6. How long have you been in business as an independent educational consultant?
  7. What was your background prior to going into independent educational consulting? What was your training and educations?
  8. Will you use personal connections to get me into one of my top choices? (The answer should be NO. An IEC doesn’t get you admitted – they help you to demonstrate why you deserve to be admitted.)
  9. What specialized training do you have (LD, gifted, athletics, arts, etc.)?
  10. Do you adhere to the ethical guidelines for private counseling established by the IECA?

Have Additional Questions?

We would be more than happy to assist you!

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