Parents of private school students often ask us why they should engage our services for college planning when their children’s schools provide excellent counseling services. Here’s what we tell them. . . .
The JRA Educational Consulting team has delivered extensive and intensive college planning service to private school students, locally and nationally, for more than 30 years. Two of our most striking levels of support focus on college application essays and résumés, where our unique approach garners exceptional results.
All applicants to selective schools tend to have high GPAs, high SAT/ACT scores, significant extracurricular engagement, etc. The essay and résumé can, therefore, be the two most important differentiating factors for admission officers choosing among ostensibly similar applicant dossiers. They can, in fact, be the determining factors. Numerous articles written by admission deans attest to the fact that the student’s voice makes all the difference in the world.
Application essays are essential, if not critical. Although many private schools provide excellent counseling for college-bound students, they may not offer the intense, focused approach we take. Teachers and counselors at private schools don’t necessarily have the time to delve deeply into brainstorming essay ideas, or to suggest changes and that lead to multiple drafts, each of which we carefully review.
Our students entrust us with guiding them throughout the essay process. We participate at every step, aim for “scintillating” essays, accept nothing short of “very good,” and feel privileged to work with, educate, and nurture the student writer. It’s common for a draft application essay to pass back and forth five or more times between student and essay expert. And – regrettably – it’s not uncommon to finish that last pass late at night on deadline day.
Perhaps our most unique effort centers on helping students generate a dazzling activity résumé to showcase leadership, resourcefulness, creativity, and impact. Our students have garnered compliments on their résumé presentation from college admission officers. Often included in the résumés are exciting opportunities that we initially suggested, activities in which students have developed and demonstrated their initiative and passion.
Another JRA difference: the college list ― and our extensive firsthand knowledge of colleges. Sometimes beginning as early as freshman or sophomore year, we work together with student and parents, taking into consideration far more than a student’s academic record and potential test scores. We give significant consideration to how campus culture will match a student’s social needs, personality, and even religious beliefs. Morphing as a student changes ideas and goals based upon research and college visits, the college list remains fluid from its inception through to the first few months of senior year. And speaking of campus visits, we share with a family significant insights about visits to ensure an impactful result: determination of whether or not, and why, a college is a great match. Equally important, we guide a student to make connections with local admission reps ― yet another important factor in a final admissions decision.
For the actual preparation of an application, we’re aggressively proactive about ensuring that students submit on time, if not early. We check it in its entirety – at least twice – for completeness, and consistency (including required ancillary submissions). We’ve often fielded midnight phone calls on a deadline day from parents or a student who decided at the last minute to apply to a new school.
Our person-to-person time allocation is essential to student success with college admissions. Availability long into the evening and on weekends combines with the sheer volume of time we spend with families. We calm anxious parents, quell student fears, and build self-confidence; we serve as counselors, confidantes, and surrogate parents. We return phone calls the same day and respond to emails within hours.
Finally, a word about our principal and team leader, Judi Robinovitz. A Certified Educational Planner (one of only eleven in all of Florida) with over 30 years of college counseling experience, she’s a long-standing member of the National Association of College Admission Counseling, visits dozens of college campuses every year, and participates in at least three annual college-counseling conferences. As a result, she maintains relationships with myriad college admission officers. In short, she’s a college admissions dynamo with encyclopedic knowledge about a very dynamic college admissions landscape.
Families continually tell us that there are two very special things we provide: reduced stress, and guidance to stand out in the applicant pool. Those two qualities are reflected in our results. They can become part of your college application process, too. Give us a call so we can discuss your options.