Who needs college counseling, and why?

Many students can apply to and get admitted to a US college or university on their own, or with the help of family and their school counselors. There are special situations, however, in which the use of a professional, experienced college counseling service can be particularly beneficial.

When applying to very selective schools.  Top "Brand name" schools, including the most selective school listings, are increasingly difficult to get in.

In the last 5 years, 7 of the 8 Ivy League schools have reported a decrease in admit rates: Brown by 3%, Columbia by 3%, Cornell by 9%, Dartmouth by 4%, Harvard by 2%, UPenn by 8%, and Yale by 6%.  In 2005, applications at Harvard, Cornell, and Princeton increased 15.4%, 17.4% and 20.6% over the previous year. In 2005, Harvard reported a historical record of 22,796 applications and admitted a record low of only 9.1%. Yale accepted 9.7% while Princeton accepted 10.9%. Columbia's applications have risen over 100% since 1993 - the school accepted 12.4% in 2005. Statistics like these mean that for every eight or nine applicants, only one gets admitted! However, the rejected students can be just as qualified academically and statistically as the successful applicants - the difference often lies in personal qualities and character, enthusiasm, talents, activities, and other "intangibles." Communicating these personal characteristics effectively is critical to success.

At the most selective schools, almost no applicant is assured of admission. Harvard rejects half of its valedictorian applicants. Many top schools routinely reject applicants with perfect SAT scores. At a U Penn reception in Hong Kong in September 2005, Elisabeth O'Connell, Director of International Admissions, commented that admissions to U Penn are indeed unpredictable when compared to admissions to Hong Kong and UK schools - where the results are very much predictable based on academic achievement. Clearly, even a student with the most sterling qualifications has no room for error in the application process.

What Maplewood can offer: Our experienced counselors can help avoid missteps and present the student's unique characteristics, accomplishments and abilities in the best light. We help you to improve the chance of admission to the top and best possible college or university of your choice. Happy news comes in.... We will also advise you on your final school decision upon admission.

When your strength is not just the SAT scores or the GPA

Many selective schools are now filling the role of "Ivy backups" and receive large numbers of applications from top students. The average SAT scores and GPAs are going up in their increasingly large pool of applicants. Even students with good academic statistics may find acceptance far from certain.

When a student is applying to a school where his or her academic achievement does not match the normal admission statistics very well - what might be called a "reach" school - it is all the more important to represent the non-academic achievements and talents in the best possible way.

What Maplewood can offer: Our experienced counselors can help the student use essays, recommendations, supplemental materials, and other data in the most effective way to increase the chance of admission to the college or university of your choice.

When your school guidance counselor is unavailable or unfamiliar with the US system

Parents often assume that the school's counselors will assist their student in finding the way out of the tricky maze of the college application process. Indeed, Many local and international schools often have knowledgeable counselors working with applicants to apply to the top, selective colleges. However, problems do come up - not due to incompetence, but rather a combination of too many students, too little time, and other responsibilities besides college counseling. Often, we hear these common complaints:  

· The counselor knows the JUPAS and UK systems but not much about the US system.
· The counselor can only recommend a handful of US schools.
· The counselor knows very little about applying to Ivy League or other top colleges except to say you have no chance.
· The counselor has a heavy load - tens and up to a hundred students - and does not have much time to review the student's application or essays.
· The counselor doesn't know my child and I wonder if he/she can write a truthful recommendation reflecting my child's character.
· The counselor has little time for the "good" or "mediocre" students - they are not impressive and they should be satisfied with any schools they can get into.
· The counselor has little time for the "best" students - they are considered not at risk and can fare on their own.
· The counselor splits his/her time on other student guidance and counseling at school, so college counseling suffers.

What Maplewood can offer: Maplewood insures that each student we counsel receives the undivided attention of a superbly qualified and experienced counselor. We are not taking over the job of the school counselor who will be writing the student's recommendation. We work behind the scene to help you present yourself in the best manner to your school counselor and to gain a truthful, convincing recommendation.

When the school search seems to be going nowhere.

With thousands of colleges to choose from, and no two alike, it is little wonder you and your parents often become frustrated and confused. For every student that decides to major in neuroscience and behavior in year 9 and have a firm list of colleges by year 10 in high school, there are many others who are undecided about multiple aspects of their college search - fields of study, large public school or small private liberal arts college, urban or rural, east or west coast, etc.

What Maplewood can offer: Through a combination of techniques, our experienced counselor can help you narrow the field to a smaller range of school types and characteristics. This can add focus to the college search, so that the student can evaluate a smaller number of schools for a fit with their personality and their specific preferences.

While we can help narrow and focus the college search process, we are more than willing to expand the horizons of a search. Often, a student may only be exposed to schools on the east and west coast, or in the state of CA or MA, for example. Once your needs and preferences are established, our experienced counselor can suggest additional colleges that provide a "best fit" with your needs and preferences.

When the time crunch comes in.   You have selected 5 or 6 schools, or even 8 to 10 schools to apply. You have filled in some of the applications. Thanks to Common App, you don't have to fill in as many applications as the number of schools. But the supplements, the essays and the personal statements - they can be as varied as one can imagine, and it takes time and care to do a winning job.  

How do you choose a good essay topic to write, and how to write it well? The essay is supposed to be the only thing that you have a personal control over at the final juncture. But will it sound like your voice? Will it reflect your personal character and attributes? Can it serve to provide additional information to admissions that will distinguish you from other applicants? To achieve all these, it would take time to plan, think through, prepare drafts over and over, and need help in reviewing the drafts throughout.  

As you approach the application deadline, you will be in a rush filling in the applications and supplemental sheets on your activities, services, awards, fields of study, and you don't want to introduce inconsistencies, careless typos and errors that may convey any negative impressions. It would sure help to have someone review and provide feedback on your application before final submission.  

What Maplewood can offer: Our experienced counselors can guide you through the maze of the application process so you won't feel lost or running out of time. We give you an action plan, which can be tailored to your special circumstances, to follow, so you won't miss the tests, the recommendations, the application steps, the submissions.

For your essays, our experienced counselors can lead you through the selection of a good essay or personal statement topic early in the process. We discuss with you to understand your experiences, talents, what you are passionate about, and find your unique voice and tone. We help you build confidence in tackling this one special challenge in the college essay - one that you can exercise a personal control and one that you can exploit to distinguish yourself from other applicants. We encourage you to start early with drafting of the essay; we make suggestions on improvements. We review, edit and proofread your final draft in your applications to the schools of your choice.

You apply to college only once in your life. Get the best possible result! We are here to help.

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Copyright © 2004-2006 Maplewood Education Services Ltd. This page last updated 02/25/06 08:10.