"It's nice to have a third party saying, 'What are your goals? Okay, then this is what you have to do to get there.' So it's not just parents going, 'You need to get good grades, you need to do this, you need to do that.' You’re helping the [students] figure out what they want to do and how to get there."
-Bhree R., parent of Emma F., 11th grader at West Anchorage High School
Emma F., a junior at West Anchorage High School, is one of my current college admissions consulting (CAC) students at Frontier Tutoring. In this post, I share excerpts from an interview with Emma and her mom, Bhree, about why they chose to start college admissions consulting during Emma's junior year, rather than waiting until senior year. Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Use the links below to jump to the questions you're curious about.
-Kimberly Hewitt, Business Unit Manager - College Admissions Consulting
What We Covered
- About Emma
- What made you consider working with a professional college counselor?
- Why did you want to start CAC (College Admissions Consulting) during junior year specifically? What have we worked on this year that has changed your college admissions profile/trajectory?
- If you were to recommend Frontier Tutoring’s college admissions consulting services to a good friend, what would you say?
- What would you say to a student and parent who was interested in applying to competitive colleges, and said they felt they could do an equally good job going through the admissions process on their own?
- What about you? Which parts did you feel that you could do versus couldn’t do on your own?
- After your successful experience with Larissa (Emma's older sister), why did you decide to return with Emma? Did you ever think to yourself, “We’ve been through the process with Larissa and now we know what we need to know—we can now do this ourselves”?
- What would you say to a parent who was considering a Frontier Tutoring CAC program, but felt the price seemed too expensive?
Kimberly Hewitt: Emma F., a junior at West Anchorage High School, is one of my current college admissions consulting (CAC) students at Frontier Tutoring. Her older sister, Larissa, previously completed a Frontier Tutoring CAC program during her senior year and now attends Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (Troy, NY). Emma began a comprehensive college admissions consulting program with us beginning last August, before starting her junior year at West. As of January of her junior year, Emma has already completed preparation for the PSAT and SAT in the fall, and I have guided her though the process of building a preliminary list of colleges of interest. We developed this list based on Emma’s interests (business and music) and her SAT score improvement. Currently (February of her junior year), because some of the competitive colleges on Emma’s list require SAT Subject Tests, I am working with Emma to determine which specific SAT Subject Tests she should take at the end of the school year based on her strengths and interests. Emma is also planning a trip in April to visit her top colleges. Below is an edited transcript of an interview with Emma and her mom, Bhree, about their experiences with college admissions consulting during junior year so far.
Bhree (Mom): We didn’t know that there were other [options], but Frontier Tutoring has good outreach and marketing in the schools with your practice tests. The one hour free [North to My Future college admissions strategy session], talking and exploring [options]. That was good. That was a big hook.
3. Why did you want to start college admissions consulting (CAC) during junior year specifically? What have we worked on this year that has changed your college admissions profile/trajectory?
Bhree (Mom): Starting this during junior year means less piling up. I just want to kind of get this out of the way. And [for the process to be] less last minute. That was one of the things with Larissa—because of the SAT Subject Tests, because she wanted to do another SAT to see if she could get her score up, all that on top of all the admissions applications. That was a lot just all piled up at once. And one of the things, too, that I think is interesting about Em—by having more time and being able to explore all of the colleges, she’s more focused and has a better idea of which colleges she is interested in, and which colleges she can get into, that we’re going to go look at. There might be one that really is the one that she just goes, “Yep, that’s it.” And [she] might apply early decision.
Emma (Student): Senior year is super stressful. I want to be more prepared. By choosing colleges [early], I can [make more progress on my applications] over the summer [before senior year].
4. If you were to recommend Frontier Tutoring’s college admissions consulting services to a good friend, what would you say?
It's nice to have a third party saying, 'What are your goals? What are your objectives? Okay, then this is what you have to do to get there.'
So it's not just parents going, 'You need to get good grades. You need to do this, you need to do that.' You’re helping the [students] figure out what they want to do and how to get there. What we need to do to get there. And I think it's nice to have the iterative process where it goes back and forth and you can see it morph. I saw that with Larissa [Emma's older sister], and I've seen it with both kiddos. Just the way that it really develops in terms of what colleges really are the best fits, the most interesting. What was it they seem most excited about?
Emma (Student): It just helps you focus on what you want to do. And you gave us different colleges than I would have found researching on my own. You know how what colleges I might like and what colleges other people like.
5. What would you say to a student and parent who was interested in applying to competitive colleges, and said they felt they could do an equally good job going through the admissions process on their own?
You have a better chance if you have somebody who has experience. As a parent, you can get a sense of it and you can learn some of it, but I like having someone who [knows what they’re doing].
It’s better than having a parent who says, “Oh, my kids are doing it, so I should probably learn a little bit about it.” And I remember, too, with the essays, the feedback was very helpful.
Somebody who can really direct the kids and have an outside perspective and really understand the student's life experiences. Again, it's that back and forth.
I understand what Emma's life experiences are, but I don't necessarily know how those would translate into presenting her to a college.
Also, I like the structure and the timing [of your program]. [College admissions] is one of the things that I don't have to track and I don't have to rely on Emma to track so much, in terms of what needs to be done. For example, are we on time, or are we behind, and do I need to be stressing? I like not having to worry about that piece in particular.
So I think that's why I like starting [college admissions consulting] junior year instead of senior year. Because then you and Emma are figuring out the plan, and you're on it, and I can just let that go for the most part.
Emma (Student): I could find colleges on my own, but I might not find the [right] colleges. I didn't find some of the colleges you picked out, like Claremont McKenna...I wouldn't have looked there. It's a really good college for me, but just in research on my own, I wouldn't have known that. I can look at academics, but I wouldn't be able to look at things like social life as much.
7. After your successful experience with Larissa (Emma's older sister), why did you decide to enroll Emma in a CAC program? Did you ever think to yourself, “We’ve been through the process with Larissa and now we know what we need to know—we can now do this ourselves?”
The one thing I really like is we are trying to let the kids do this on their own. We like the follow-up reports [from you], because we can keep track of where Emma is and whether or not we need to nudge or offer help.
I like the idea that it's not my responsibility. And I learned that with Larissa [Emma's older sister] definitely. But it is good to start ahead of the curve and get all that [SAT] prep done and out of the way. And even before the SAT, the PSAT was another piece that it was nice to get squared away .
8. What would you say to a parent who was considering a Frontier Tutoring CAC program, but felt the price seemed too expensive?
Bhree (Mom): For people for whom cost isn't an issue, this is a great program. For people where cost is an issue, you get into the individual cost-benefit analysis. How important is it to you to help your kid get into the best college? And the best-fit college? And how much time—and stress—would it save you? So it's really that balancing act. I know some parents might be able to [guide their students through the college admissions process on their own], but it takes a lot of time.
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