Frequently Asked Questions
We have tried to anticipate your questions about CollegeLab.
If you don't find your question, or a good enough answer, here email us at CollegeLab@optonline.net.
Is an independent counselor really necessary?
YES, for most students, it's
The ratio of
students to counselors has grown to over 300:1 in most of the large
high schools in Colorado. In Boston, Massachusetts the
city budget has recently fixed the student/counselor ratio at
980:1. For most students, that means their counselor will
have very little chance to get involved in their selection of
courses or extracurricular activities.
therefore, a great many students who don't get any focused advice
in these areas until late in their junior years, when they see PSAT
scores, their first glimpse of how competitive their college
applications will be in a context larger than their high
school. In addition, their counselors can't possibly write
college recommendations with the same level of insight or advocacy
that counselors once could.
schools now highlight their counselor:student ratios. One
Denver private school pledges a 10:1 ratio; a number of
leading boarding schools in New England maintain a ratio of 6-8
boarding students to one counselor, who is often also a full-time
resident. The recommendations in those students' folders tell
compelling stories, address the issues that may appear elsewhere in
their students' applications and reflect strong, honest advocacy
for their students.
parents didn't go to college in the US (or didn't go to
counselor turns over during their high school years,
parents assume the schools are on top of the issues and timetables
for each student applying to college; or
- who are
can vary from disheartening to disastrous. If students are
capable of handling the demanding coursework of a challenging
school, they may not be working and learning to their full
potential in college. Is there proof of that? Well, the
current rate of transfers for all college students who complete a
degree in five years or less is 30%. So, roughly 3 in 10
students actually pack up and change colleges once they know what a
given college is like. For transfer students who lose course
credits, friends, the chance to build solid mentor relationships
with faculty or just self-confidence, the cost of good independent
counseling in high school is quickly repaid.
Will hiring an independent counselor reduce the resources that the school makes available to our child?
will have access to counselor appointment times and all of the same
library resources to which they are entitled under the school's
guidelines. Many parents who engage an independent counselor,
however, choose carefully when they tell their school's
counselor about an independent counselor. They fear an
overworked counseling staff, being human, will invest their
time with other children. CollegeLab's clients are the
families we serve; we will bring all the resources to bear we can
and coordinate with the child's school counselor whenever
our client families ask us to do so.
side-effect clients point out to us is the
confidence parents gain from working with
us. With the facts, insights and a confidence that they're
making a difference in their children's education, they get more
involved in advocating for their children throughout their high
school careers. And there are many contexts in which
there's no substitute for a parent.
Why does CollegeLab place so great an emphasis on advocacy? Many other counselors work only in the background.
high schoolers need an informed, honest advocate in pulling
together the teachers, courses, coaches and sports that make up
their high school careers. And when the time comes to
synthesize all that they've accomplished in high school to make the
best possible case for their application to a college that will
really stimulate them, an advocate is irreplaceable.
The very best
students and average students both need to make the case that
(a)they've grown in high school and (b) they will keep growing in
definable ways through four years of college. It's a very
rare student who can make that case themselves. And,
unfortunately, it's increasingly rare that school counselors have
the time to make that case well. Armed with our knowledge
- the student
and his or her family,
- the insights
available from first-rate assessments,
- the story of
personal development that their Portfolio tells,
knowledge of various Colleges' needs and historical profiles
- more than 20
years of alumni interviewing and applicant discussions
CollegeLab can make compelling cases for
students we know well, advocate for them and be honest,
How does a family know that college admissions staffs will listen to you?
Because they tell us they do. Recently, the President of a highly selective New York college told us that independent counselors generally have become a factor because they are playing the same role year in and year out And, he said, they turn over less often than their school counterparts.
But there are limits to advocacy. Ivy League admissions people generally will not consider an independent counselor's letter unless it in some way levels the playing field for a disadvantaged applicant. In the applicant pools of the most selective colleges, an independent counselor's open role may be a disadvantage if another equally qualified candidate seems to have built their high school record without the help of a coach. CollegeLab, therefore, will not write recommendations for Ivy League applicants.