Category Archives: Choosing a College

Benefits of Hiring an Independent Educational Consultant

Navigating the high seas of college admissions can be intimidating and stressful for busy families. Because it can overwhelm, many students don’t fully explore their options, an approach that often culminates in attending a college that isn’t right for them. Finding and College admissionsbeing  accepted by a college that is right can be the difference between success and failure in  achieving a student’s educational goals.

Without expert guidance, students tend not to plan and prepare adequately for college admissions, which increases the chances of a negative outcome. That’s why it’s beneficial to retain a private college admissions consultant such as Dr. Charlotte Klaar of Klaar College Consulting. In this post, we’ll examine the value an Independent Educational Consultant (IEC) brings to students and families.

High schools employ guidance counselors, but few of these professionals can provide significant time in one-on-one college counseling with each student. With an average ratio of 800 students to each counselor, public high schools simply can’t be expected to provide the level of service that a private IEC offers. Nor does the 40-1 ratio of private high schools allow for adequate individualized attention.

IEC’s provide one-on-one expertise

In contrast, your IEC is able to devote the time necessary for a one-on-one cooperative effort. This gives you greater insight into the variety and complexity of the available choices. Your IEC’s advice is based on he or she learning about your GPA, test scores, strengths, weaknesses, passions, interests, talents, skills, experiences, available finances, and educational goals.  The IEC then creates a profile of you for use going forward.  Among other things, this enables the IEC to offer valuable advice on your selection of a set of target schools that best fit your profile where you’ll focus your admissions campaign.

Any campaign needs a strategy, and your college admissions campaign is no exception. Colleges seek diversified student populations. To satisfy a college’s desired student profile, you should, with the assistance of your IEC, develop an effective way to position yourself for acceptance. Your unique character and overarching interests will be melded into a positive image that impresses admissions officers.

This image will be reflected in each of the components of your admissions package; essays, interviews, letters of recommendation, and the application itself, so that your core message is strong and consistent. If you have a viable “hook” that will increase your chances of acceptance at your targeted schools, your IEC will help you to develop and use it to your maximum advantage.

Many factors go into acceptance criteria

The acceptance criteria of colleges include much more than your academic record. Your essays, personal statements, interviews, extracurricular activities, volunteer efforts, personal interests, skills, talents, and legacy status are among the non-academic factors taken into account. Your IEC assists you in communicating the core message that drives your case for admission in each component. The message is succinct and thematically coherent.

Two crucial elements of your admissions package are interviews and essays. They’re your best opportunities to communicate your core message, and in so doing to reveal the unique individual you are. Your IEC will coach you on the right responses to the typical questions posed by college interviewers seeking to learn more about you. IEC’s also advise on how to conduct yourself. You’ll enter each interview with confidence, which will help your case immensely.

Since not all colleges weigh feedback from interviews, essays (and personal statements) are the most important part of your application after your academic record. Essays can truly be the difference between whether or not you’re admitted to a college. Your IEC is an expert at helping you select topics and craft excellent essays that will convey your core message and raise your profile above your peers.

Finances are another critical factor

Another critical factor considered by your IEC is the amount that your family can afford to spend on your education. The average cost of a college education is now $29,400 per year for a 4-year public institution and $48, 510 per year for a 4-year private institution. For those families saving on college coststhat don’t qualify for need-based financial assistance, there are three alternatives: win a merit-based scholarship; pay the ongoing costs annually: or go into debt with student loans. Whatever approach or combination of approaches that a family chooses, financing a college education is nearly always stressful.

IEC’s help families understand the financial aid process. Each scholarship, grant, or loan program has its own set of requirements and deadlines. Navigating financing programs and completing the forms required is, in itself, as complex as gaining admission. We’ll consider the contributions that your IEC can make regarding financial aid more closely in a future post.

There is a clear advantage to be gained by getting an early start on your admissions campaign. If your family has wisely retained an IEC for you when you’re still an underclassman, you’ll receive advice in selecting the courses that will best advance your plans. He or she will guide you on the appropriate AP courses to take in light of your educational goals, keeping in mind that you shouldn’t let AP courses result in a decline in your GPA.

As an underclassman, your IEC will advise you in selecting extracurricular activities and summer internships that will further your case for admission to your targeted schools. Your IEC’s recommendations will be designed to provide evidence of the value that you’ll bring to a college’s student body and community. You’ll also be guided on standardized test selection, preparation, and scheduling. Your IEC will advise you on the scores that you should strive to achieve.

Colleges aren’t commodities. Just as you’re unique, each college is unique. The extent of the differentiation between seemingly similar colleges can be subtle but substantial. IEC’s frequently visit college campuses and interact with admissions officials. A major advantage to retaining the services of an IEC is that they can apply their first-hand knowledge of the unique characteristics and priorities of most of the colleges that interest you.

IEC’s stay current on new admissions consulting techniques, methods, and case histories through participation in a variety of professional associations. These include the three largest: National Association for College Admissions Counseling (NACAC),  Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA), and Higher Education Consultants Association (HECA). In addition to events, publications, and member services, the associations provide training and certification in consulting specialties such as AICEP’s Certified Educational Planner and International Specialist Designation.  A number of top-tier universities offer online and classroom courses to IECs and award degrees and certificates in admissions-related fields.

Your admissions campaign requires developing several components that are presented through different media. Careful planning is a necessity. From your positioning strategy to the components of your application, an expert IEC will provide sound solutions tailored to your specific issues. Attaining admission to your chosen colleges is best assured through a committed, cooperative effort by you and your professional IEC.

 

My College Expertise is Earned

Charlotte Klaar, PhD

Parents don’t hire me because I promise to get their students into prestigious schools.  In fact, the only promise I make is to help students find the best school for his or her needs – academically, socially and financially.  And, since entering this profession in 1995, I’ve helped hundreds of kids get accepted and graduate from college.

One student I worked with was Gabe, an intelligent young man with learning differences.

He had been attending a music preparatory program at a respected college in his hometown.  The college wanted him as an undergraduate student, and he wanted to go there to be close to home.  He was concerned about moving out of his comfort zone. However, his parents wanted him to think bigger and grow musically.  I showed him other music programs and how they didn’t need to be far away.

 “He didn’t want a large school or to be too far from home, she helped direct him to the right program. He ended up at Catholic University of America.  It wasn’t his first choice, but when he did the first piano audition they called him, and got him scholarships,” said his Mom.

How did that work out for Gabe?

“Gabe graduated last year and is doing his Masters in Piano Performance, also at CUA, so she (Dr. Klaar) really helped him make the best choice for him (perfect school size, location, great piano teachers…). He felt comfortable enough to not apply for any support and found his own way of studying and made it through college successfully (Cum Laude and Dean’s list seven semesters out of eight!)” Gabe’s Mom reported recently.

College Made Simple

Get a jumpstart on your college app and essay with one of these “College Simplified Summer Camps!”

Hearing that brought tears to my eyes.  That’s why I’m passionate about what I do. I understand the importance of taking the time to get to know students and their families well enough to create a college career path for each student’s unique goals and strengths.

Let’s face it, the whole college admissions process can stressful for parents and kids. One of the roles I play is to act as a buffer between you and your student.

I use a friendly but no-nonsense, no-excuses style to work with students to help make the college search, application and essay process a delightful adventure of self-discovery and growth. Along the way, I help students learn to make more informed decisions and to own the process.

That’s why students trust me, respect my knowledge and experience and work hard to meet their assignments and deadlines.

Benefit from Dr. Klaar’s expertise at the “College Simplified Summer Camps”  in Charlotte, NC, Fort Mill, SC and Frederick, MD, in June and July 2019!

My knowledge and experience is hard-earned; I belong to all of the top College Consultant professional organizations, and was the third college consultant to be honored with the Steven R. Antonoff Award for Professional Achievement at the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA) Spring Conference in Boston, MA in 2016.

The award was created to recognize an IECA professional who has distinguished him or herself by their outstanding contributions to the profession of independent educational  consulting.

I also keep my professional knowledge up-to-date by visiting colleges nationwide, attending conferences and keeping up on changes in this profession.

So, if a college consultant promises to get your child into a certain college, or a top-ranked college, take a good look at their professional background.  The actions taken by the educational consultant at the center of the Varsity Blues case are in direct contrast to IECAHECA, and NACAC, which specifically bar admission guarantees and emphasize truthful, accurate application materials that are the student’s own work.

Every college is a good college for some students, and what a student does once they get to college is far more important than the college name on the diploma.

My professional memberships:

  • Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA)
  • Higher Education Consultants Association (HECA)
  • National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC)
  • American Institute of Certified Educational Planners
  • Southern Association for College Admission Counseling
  • National College Advocacy Group (NCAG)
  • National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC)
  • York County Chamber of Commerce

Benefit from Dr. Klaar’s expertise at the “College Simplified Summer Camps”  in Charlotte, NC, Fort Mill, SC and Frederick, MD, in June and July 2019!

 Other professional qualifications

I hold a BA in liberal studies from the University of the State of New York, a teaching certificate from William Paterson University, a MS in interdisciplinary science studies from Johns Hopkins University, and a PhD in general psychology from Capella University. My graduate work was focused in the area of family psychology and I’m well-versed in the issues facing teens and their parents.

For resources to help students with Autism, visit this page of our website.

Save the Date for these College Admissions Seminars

The college admissions process can be overwhelming. These information-packed seminars will point you in the right direction. High school students and parents will learn:

  • How to help choose a college that’s a good fit for your studentCollege admissions seminars
  • How to open a dialogue about career planning
  • What all of the testing information means and how to understand it

Saturday, Feb. 23, Fort Mill, SC – 10 a.m. – noon.  Register here. 
Thursday, Feb. 28, Fort Mill, SC – 7:00 – 8:30 p.m. Register here.

Location: Both seminars will be at LOOM, 120 Academy St., Ft. Mill, South Carolina

Westborough, MA College & Admissions Testing Seminar

Attention Parents of H.S. Students Graduating in 2020 & 2021

Confused about college admissions and testing?

How to find the best college? How to plan for it?
SATs vs. ACTs? Once? Twice? Subject tests & score choice?
Looking for answers? Come to our FREE Seminar!

Where: Corridor 9/495 Regional Chamber of Commerce, 30 Lyman St, Suite 6, Westborough, MA
When: Sunday, March 24, 1 – 3 p.m. Registration requested.
Email [email protected]

Presented by:
Charlotte Klaar, PhD, Klaar College Consulting
Donna Cox, Cox Tutoring Group
Questions? Email [email protected]

New! St. Thomas Seminars – Coming in April!

St. Thomas has become like a second home for Charlotte Klaar, PhD, so it is natural that her business comes with her. If you have a high school junior who needs/wants college advising from someone College advisor in St. Thomas with 24+ years of serving students and their families, call me – 803-487-9777.

Visit www.cklaar.com for more information and our current 10% discount offer. Watch this space for more details on our College Planning Workshop.

Interested? Email Dr. Klaar at [email protected]

Why Any Score Can be a Good Score on a PSAT

Did you just get handed the results of your PSAT test and think “YIKES?!”

The thing is, even a low score on a PSAT (Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test) can be good if it motivates you to focus on what you need to learn before taking the real test.

Think of your results as a valuable document that shows you what you still need to learn or re-learn prior to the real SAT.

First, analyze your results to see what questions you answered incorrectly. Is there a pattern? Are you missing a basic concept? Is there a series of silly errors because you were rushing? Or, did you not take the test seriously enough? Why? A certified college planning professional can help you answer these questions and provide valuable insights into the testing and college admissions process.

If you scored high, are you in contention for the National Merit Scholarship? If so, what do you have to do to get the designation?

Once you have your 11th grade PSAT in hand, take a Mock ACT (American College Test), under real testing conditions. Once you have those results, have them compared to the PSAT results and see which test better highlights your abilities. Then work out a reasonable testing schedule for the preferred test. Finally, use your results, along with your unweighted GPA, to begin to develop a list of colleges that represent a good Fit and Match for you! If you need help with this, call me!

NEW!  To help you get going on your college planning, we are offering a 10% discount on these popular services:
  • Developing your strategy…and your college list10% discount
  • Completing your applications
  • Our Comprehensive Service

Click here for complete details.  This offer is only valid through March 15, and the number of students is limited!

About the PSAT

Students in any high school grade can take the PSAT test, which is paid for by school districts nationwide. Unfortunately, not all schools explain the relative importance of the test, or of how the results can and should be used in preparing for the SAT and their college search activities.

PSAT testsFew students are told that the highest score on the PSAT is 760 and not 800, as on the SAT. Freshmen and sophomores may be especially disappointed when they see scores well below their school performance to date. (I discourage taking the PSAT before your junior year, but if you do, keep in mind that your percentile – how you rank compared to other scores – is the key statistic to look at).

Also, you may not be informed that this test is designed to be less difficult and shorter than the SAT. That might lull you into a false sense of security that disappears when you take the real test!

If you’d like help interpreting your PSAT scores, estimating your unweighted GPA, or helping you find a college that’s a good Fit and Match, please email me at [email protected] or call 803-487-9777.

For more information on our 10% off sale, which runs through March 15, 20019, click here. 

No 4.0 GPA? College is still possible!

Reading the newspapers or listening to other parents, you’d think that the only kids who get into college are those with a 4.0 GPA and a list of accomplishments most adults don’t yet have.

This is simply not true!

In my 20-plus years of working with high school students from all levels of accomplishment, I know that there are colleges for everyone who wants to attend, and work when they get there.

Here are some tips to finding the colleges that value YOUR accomplishments:

  1. Be realistic: If your GPA is 3.0 or lower, don’t aim for the most selective Happy studentscolleges – the 24 – 50 colleges whose names everyone knows. Recognize that in many cases these colleges are not better than ones no one has heard of, and they are definitely not the best for you.
  2. Know what colleges are looking at: they’ll look at your unweighted GPA in your core classes, and at what’s available at your high school. If a student tries to stretch within the curriculum and earns B/B+ in Honors or AP classes, that student is preferable to someone who took only standard level classes and got all A’s.
  3. What you do outside of the classroom is almost as important as what you do in it. Get involved in your school community through clubs, sports, fine arts, and community service. If nothing at your school interests you, find an activity outside of school to become actively involved in. This could be tutoring, a job, community service, Scouting, Big Brother/Big Sister, religious groups, or any of the other opportunities that exist in all communities.
  4. Take the time to really think about your application! Make sure that it is both accurate and complete.
  5. Answer the questions asked in the essays and don’t repeat what can be seen elsewhere in the application. This is your chance to become a human being to the college. Don’t rehash your activities or use it as the place to explain why you are not a good test taker.
  6. Choose your recommenders carefully. They should be teachers who really know you as a person and like who you are. Give the teacher the courtesy of asking well in advance if s/he is willing to recommend you.
  7. Work with someone who knows the college process and can help you navigate it to present yourself in the best light, while still being honest.

I work with students from all parts of the academic spectrum and find that it’s often easier for students not in the top 10% of the class to find the right colleges for them. These students are realistic, know how to work for their grades, and are multi-dimensional. For more insights, I recommend the following resources:

Finally, if the worst happens and none of the colleges you have applied to accepts you, a list is published each year after May 1st of colleges that still have room in their freshman class. Many of the names on this list would surprise you.

If you need more help with this or any other aspect of college planning, please call me at 803-487-977 or email to [email protected].

 

How to Decide Where to Apply

Choosing the colleges you apply to is not as easy as it may seem. Too often, students and parents simply “decide” to apply to colleges whose names they know. This often includes institutions that are not a good fit for the student, even though the choice gets a positive nod from their friends and family. The most important thing to remember is that the colleges you apply to should be a good fit and match for you academically, socially, emotionally, and financially. This is not trophy hunting!

How does a family find these colleges? Naturally, I hope that you will get professional help from someone like me who knows the college landscape nationwide, and who has the student’s interests as a guiding force.

When I meet with a student, the first thing I try to learn is how much the student knows about him/herself. I have an in-depth conversation in which I ask questions designed to reveal the student’s learning style, motivation, interests, and lifestyle. I factor into this mix the family’s ability to pay for college and any other constraints, such as a diagnosed learning issue or family requirement.

studentNext, I review the student’s transcript, school profile and test scores. I also recalculate the unweighted GPA so that the student has a realistic view of where he falls in relation to the colleges I recommend. This allows me to narrow the 3500 colleges in the U. S. to about 15 that represent a good fit and match for the student.

After the student has researched the colleges and, hopefully, visited those in which s/he has strong interest, a short list of eight to 10 institutions who will ultimately get an application emerges. The list should include three to four Likely colleges (a 75 percent chance of admittance), three to four Target colleges (a 50 percent chance of admission), and two to three Reach colleges (a 25 percent chance of admission).

The percentages are based on where the student’s grades and test scores fall when considering the middle 50 percent of the college’s published statistics. These numbers represent the Match for the student. If the student’s test scores are an issue, know that there are almost 1,000 colleges in the U. S. who are either test optional or test flexible.

I know that this sounds complicated, but if you take a step-by-step approach to the process, it works well. Remember, just because a college was a good fit for Uncle Harry 25 years ago, it may not be a good fit for you. Similarly, you will get bombarded by advice from well-meaning, albeit, uninformed people about places that would be “great” for you. They do not know your numbers or you as well as they may think. Keep the following in mind:
• Every college is a good college for someone.
• Any college can be a “party school” if that is what you are going to college for.
• Where you go to college is less important than what you do when you get there.
• How well you do is about you, not the college.

Here are some resources to help you get started:
1. For a do-it-yourself primer on college planning: https://www.cklaar.com/service-offerings-and-fees/college-admissions/
2. College Board’s Big Future https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/find-colleges
3. College Raptor https://www.collegeraptor.com/college-search
Good luck and remember that help is available even if all you want is a beginning list!

If you need more help with this or any other aspect of college planning, please call me at 803-487-977 or email to [email protected]

College Smarts is Ideal for Budget-Minded Students

Are you a parent or student who is interested in learning more about  college admissions, but you need a cost effective alternative to personal consulting?

To give all families access to my deep knowledge and years of experience, I’ve launched “College Smarts.”  This 5-module,on-line learning series will lead you through every step of the college applications and admissions process:

  1. Finding the college that’s right for you.  There may be some schools that are a very good fit for your student that you’ve overlooked.

2. Make your college visit count. With tuition costs for a four-year degree ranging from $93,600 to $185,200, you need to do a thorough job of visiting each school.3.  Make your essay come alive and showcase your talents.  A mediocre essay may not keep you from being accepted at a school, but an exceptional essay may get you admitted to a school that otherwise wouldn’t have accepted you.4.  Craft a complete & accurate college application.  It’s amazing how many applications have simple errors on them.5.  Understand FAFSA and the complicated financial aid process.

So, why go through this complicated process alone, and worry:

  • If you’ve overlooked a college that would be a great fit
  • What  you forget on the application
  • About a so-so essay
  • Which school is offering the best deal?

Each module is just $49 each, or all five modules for just $149 – a $249 value!

To purchase your College Smarts program, CLICK HERE

Five Steps You Should Take to Prep for College!

It’s summertime, and summer college prep may be the furthest thing from your mind. But even as you enjoy your summer break, you’d be wise to use this free time to your advantage.

If you’re a rising senior, be aware of the fact that September will Summer college prepcome all too soon.  And by the time school starts, you should have a final list of colleges, so you can begin your applications.  This fall will be a busy time, with essays, letters of recommendations, college applications, etc.

By taking advantage of these long summer days, you can get a real jump start on your college application process!  Here are some tips for maximizing your summer college prep:

Read

Reading will help keep your mind fresh and help build language Summer college prepskills. You don’t need to read classic English literature – popular young adult books will do the trick.  And take a book on vacation with you!

 Volunteer

Volunteer for an organization that you are interested in and passionate about. This is a great way to build your resume and to narrow down potential fields of interest.

 Get a job

Earn some extra cash while taking on responsibility.  Colleges like to see that you have responsibilities outside of your schoolwork.

Visit colleges

Make time to visit colleges you are interested in.  Since school is not in session, summer may not be the most ideal time for college visits, but you can still get a feel for the place and visit again if necessary. Taking a family vacation? Plan to visit colleges along your way.

 Think about what you want out of your college experience

Take time to think about what you want in a school, your interests, and what you would like to get out of your college experience.  Long car rides to the beach are perfect for brainstorming.

Have a fun and meaningful summer!

Charlotte Klaar, Ph.D.

For more information about how Klaar College Consulting can help lead you to college success, call us at 301-834-6888 and visit the many resources available on this website.

Watch this Free Webinar on the Top 5 Mistakes when Choosing a College

The Top 5 Mistakes when Choosing a collegeClub Z! Tutoring, the nation’s largest in-home and online tutoring and test prep company, is hosting a FREE college prep webinar at 8 p.m. Eastern (5 p.m. Pacific) on March 22, 2017. The topic is how to avoid the top 5 mistakes when choosing a college.

The topic for Club Z!’s March webinar is “The Top 5 Mistakes When Choosing a College,” which will focus on how to avoid common pitfalls during the college selection process. From using the wrong criteria (following a friend, for example) to not applying to a school based on your anticipated financial aid package, the webinar will explore issues that may lead a student to choose a school that ultimately is not a good fit. Hosting the call is certified Educational Planner, and Club Z! college admissions advisor, Charlotte Klaar, PhD.

“Families too often waste time on colleges that are not a good match for their student. This leads to unhappiness, needless disappointment, and costly transfers,” offers Dr. Klaar. “My goal with this webinar is to shed some light on these potential issues, and offer strategies for finding the right school.”

Please join Club Z! and Dr. Klaar on March 22, 2017 at 8 p.m. Eastern/5 p.m. Pacific for this important webinar. Attendance is absolutely free, but does require pre-registration as space is limited. To join us on March 22nd, click here to register.