Category Archives: College admissions

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.

College scandal is damaging in so many ways!

This week’s events surrounding college admissions saddens me greatly. Not only because of the illegality of it, but also because of college cheating scandal the message it sent to the multitude of highly qualified students who have applied to their schools of choice and were denied without being given a valid reason.

Frankly, I have never thought that “We got too many qualified applicants” was enough of a response.  There are so many aspects of this situation that it is hard to hone in on just a few. Let me try.

The perpetrator was not a member of any of the recognized professional organizations who would have policed his activities. Each of the organizations to which I belong have issued statements of condemnation:

The National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC)  statement says: “Admission and counseling professionals understand and have valued ethical behavior as stated in our Code of Ethics and Professional Practices for well over 80 years,” said Stefanie Niles, NACAC president and vice president for enrollment and communications at Ohio Wesleyan University. “We strive to ensure that all students are treated equitably throughout the process,”  he added.

The Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA) and its members are committed to helping families find the most appropriate college for their students and assist families in navigating the application process.

IECA members are professionals who understand and adhere to high ethical standards and follow a comprehensive code of ethics in all their interactions with clients and institutions. They are compensated by and work exclusively on behalf of their client families.

The Higher Education Consultants Association (HECA)  similarly discussed the code of ethics which members must uphold. It adds: As the only network of independent educational consultants focused exclusively on supporting high school students in their search for the right fit college, HECA members create greater access to opportunity and change lives.

What is the message being sent to young people in these cases?  I am most concerned by the message that these parents have given their children is that:

  • The student is not worthy without cheating!Cheating scandals at colleges
  • That unless the student attends a prestigious school, the parent is disappointed in them.
  • Cheating is OK.
  • You can get anything you want by lying and paying for it no matter what it does to others.
  • Hard work does not matter; only privilege matters.

These are all terrible, harmful messages.

My advice to parents, based on my more than two decades of experience as a Certified Educational Planner are:

1. When choosing an educational consultant, be sure to check the person’s membership and standing in these organizations. Unaffiliated consultants are neither vetted nor monitored.

2.  Parents don’t get your hands into all the things your students produce.  When you do that, you’re undermining the confidence of your child. You’re sending the message: “Without me, you cannot be successful.”

3.  Ignore whatever hype is around you and do what is best for your student.

4.  Really hear what your student is saying about the kind of future he or she wants.

5.  Applaud every success and acknowledge every failure. Without the latter, the former never happens. Don’t rescue your student! He or she must learn how to clean up his own messes and learn that there are consequences to her actions or inactions. If you are always in the middle, they have someone to blame other than themselves!

6.  Acknowledge that life isn’t fair.

Why hire a genuine college professional:

Parents hire me so that their student will have the time to develop the self-awareness they need to complete the college search and application process. With my professional guidance they’ll do so in a planned and deliberative manner.

In much the same way as baking a cake, it cannot be rushed and takes more than the 15 – 30 minutes that students get in their high schools to work through the myriad of issues.

I spend between 20 and 30 hours working with or on behalf of each of my students over the course of about 18 months.

I’ve guided hundreds of students to college success, and here’s what they say:

PROUD PARENTS OF A.R., BOSTON UNIVERSITY ’21“The college application process can be as confusing and daunting to the student as is it for the parents. From the first consultation Ms. Klaar put all of us at ease. She dug in deep to help our son discover exactly what he wanted from his college experience and his career goals. 

“She guided him in ways that we didn’t even know existed that lead him to a 4 year FULL scholarship. Ms. Klaar works directly with the student so they take ownership of their journey. As parents we highly recommend the services of Klaar College Consulting.”
If you have any questions on this topic, please call me at 803-487-9777 or email [email protected]

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. 

Limited Time 10% Discount Available on Our Most Popular Programs

For the first time ever, from now through March 31, 2019, Charlotte Klaar, 10% discountPhD, is offering a 10% discount on three of her most popular services!  Take advantage of this special and save up to $500!

EXTENDED THROUGH MARCH 31!

1. Developing Your Strategy…and Your List!

Regular price – $2,700.  Now through March 31 – just $2,430!

This includes:
– Review prior academic accomplishments
– Advice on which upcoming courses would be best for your senior year
– Important advice for extracurricular involvementPlaying sports
Review of recommendations for testing (SAT or ACT)
– In-depth interview on college preferences (with both student and parent)
– Career planning using a career assessment/
personality inventory
– Refine choices of college type and major
– Advice on making successful college visits that count
– Prepare a selected list of colleges that are uniquely suited to your student

The approximate duration of this service is 6-8 weeks. It is suggested that
it begin in the fall of junior year, after the student’s PSAT scores have arrived.

2. Completing Your Applications

Regular price – $2,700. Now through March 31 – just $2,430!

This includes:
– Action plan with organizational timeline
– Plastic file tote to use as an organizational tool
– Essay brainstorming session(s)
– Edit common application essay
– Edit the activities résumé
– Edit up to five additional essays (subsequent essays charged at hourly rate)
– Recommendations and practice for college interviews, if requested
– Review applications for up to 10 colleges
– Help with making your student’s crucial final choice when decision letters arrive

This contract covers up to 10 applications using two unique applications, i.e. The Common Application plus a state school, or the Common Application and Coalition Application. Additional applications beyond 10 colleges, or using multiple application types, may be assessed an additional fee of up to $500 each.

The approximate duration of this service is 10 months. It is suggested that it begin in the summer before senior year, as most early decision/early applications are due in November of senior year.

3. Comprehensive Service – includes the above two programs – ordinarily $5,000 – and there is:
– No limit on the number of essay edits!
– No limit on the number of application reviews!

When you pay in full you ordinarily get a 10% Discount and save $500! But, with our limited time offer, you’ll get a 15% discount and save $750! 

Ordinarily, the Comprehensive Program with the payment plan is not eligible for a discount. But through March 31th, you receive the 10% discount and save $500!  Here’s how it works:

Comprehensive payment plan is $5,000 with a 10% discount = $4,500.
$1,500 is pre-paid before starting. Then make four subsequent payments of $750 each to your credit card.  Contact Dr. Charlotte Klaar at 803-487-9777 or [email protected] for questions and a contract.

Act now!  Dr. Klar can only accept a limited number of students, and her calendar will fill up quickly! Download this fillable pdf now!

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].

 

Why Your Kids’ Grades Don’t Mean Nearly As Much As These 5 Things

I am always surprised when a parent brags to me about their high school student who works so hard on school work that there is no time for anything else. The next statement is usually something

about the student having straight A’s which shows that “hard work pays off.” Unfortunately, that is simply not the case! Good, even great grades are no substitute for the following 5 things:

1. A curriculum in which the student has stretched his/her intellectual capabilities by taking the most rigorous courses offered and earning solid grades (A or B) in them. It makes no sense to take every AP or IB course offered and get C’s in them.

The course weighting is no substitute for accomplishment. If a student tries a class at that level and does not do well, move on and drop back to the course work where he can be successful. I once had a student who had a 4.0 GPA and aspired to the most competitive colleges in the country.

Unfortunately, the student had taken none of the Honors or AP classes offered at her highly-ranked high school. The family believed that having straight A’s was better than showing intellectual curiosity or attempting to stretch within her options.

2.  Extracurricular involvement that shows the student has interests in girl sccoutsboth her school community and outside it. Whether the student is active in a religious organization, Scouting or Student Council does not matter. What matters is that she is showing that she can function as part of a larger community and cares about others besides herself.

The activities a student participates in is also one of the two places in the application that the student becomes a person. The essay is the other. That’s why a student should participate in what is interesting to her and not try to find things that “look good.”

3. Work experiences that indicate that a student is responsible, able, disciplined and dependable. That job could be babysitting, bagging groceries, lawn care, or working on his own business detailing cars. All of these show that the student is able to be responsible to someone other than himself, has the time management skills to get to work and can develop a work record that lasts more than a few weeks.

4.  Participation in some form of team activity can also indicate an awareness that there is something more important than herself. That Playing socceractivity can be band, chorus, theater, or athletics – all show that the student can work harmoniously with others.

5. The ability to put the world in perspective. It breaks my heart when I hear these high-powered, high-stressed kids tell me about their dark thoughts. They question if anyone loves the person they are, or just the glory they can bring to the family. These are solid students with marvelous minds, but they have no time to socialize because their parents tell them that perfection is attainable if enough time and effort is given. Then, the student may fall apart emotionally.

While good grades are important for acceptance to college, there are many other things that are more important: intellectual curiosity, a strong work ethic, dependability, and a personality.