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College Admissions Advice - What are my options?

If you’re reading this blog, you are probably researching different ways to help your child (and you) prepare for the college admissions process.

Well, I’m right there with you. I have 4 sons making their way through this process right now, and I have a pretty good idea of what you’re going through.

In fact, the reason I developed PrepWell Academy, is because when I was in your shoes, I didn’t like what I saw when I looked at the available options.

The process appeared stressful, intimidating, expensive, and not well-balanced. It started TOO LATE (junior or senior year), and it focused so heavily the “application process” and “getting into College XYZ” and not about developing the “whole” student.

And it didn’t seem like the “process” had changed in over 30 years – despite the changes in expectations, competitiveness, cost, and the way the world works today.

So, I gave this a lot of thought. And after reflecting on:

  • My 30-years of success in some of life’s most challenging and competitive programs
  • My current work as a high-performance coach to some of the world’s top CEOs
  • What I learned after going back to college to get credentialed in college admissions counseling
  • and with a lot of skin in the game with 4 kids coming up the ranks...

I set out to change the model. To create a different path - called PrepWell Academy.

Now, just to give some context about the options, there have historically been three different paths, with associated costs, benefits, and risk profiles:

1. Child-Driven Approach

You can allow your child to do it all. Have them choose their own classes, register for the right standardized tests, learn how to study, research appropriate colleges, figure out financial aid, etc.

Upfront cost? Minimal. Your child provides all the sweat equity.

Upside? Fantastic. If your son or daughter can handle this 4-year process successfully - with no support - they are well on their way to adulthood.

Risk? High. Due to the complexity of the process today, few teens are equipped to handle this process alone.

2. Parent-Driven Approach

You drive the entire process. You're in charge. You do the research, attend after-school informational meetings, read blogs, take notes, assemble lists, create calendars, and figure it all out.

Upfront cost? Minimal cash outlay. Instead, you pay with your time, effort, and energy. Be wary of the emotional toll this can take as well.

Upside? Good. You have become a subject matter expert who can now provide great insights and advice to your own child.

Risk? High. How many teens are anxious to take serious advice and counsel directly from their parents about college choices? You run the risk of learning all of this information without the ability to pass it on effectively.

3. Full-Service or "Cadillac College Counselor"

A Cadillac counselor will typically swoop into your life in the middle of 11th-grade with armfuls of checklists, surveys, personality tests, questionnaires and timelines. They will make it all happen - essays, transcripts, recommendations, etc.

Upfront cost? Significant. Cadillac counselors often charge $5K - $20K to engage with your child for the last 12 months of high school. Not everyone can afford this.

Upside? Great. After offloading this process to a 3rd-party expert, busy parents can go back to their lives knowing that they are off the hook. For busy and well-resourced parents, this can be a tempting choice.

Risk? High. Unfortunately, these arrangements often lead to student disengagement. After all, their parents are paying this counselor a lot of money. Why not let the expert pick the schools, write the essay, re-write the application, and handle everything?  Unfortunately, this can create children who are inept, unskilled, and incapable of repeating these important skills later in life - which they will have to repeat over and over again.

4. PrepWell Academy

PrepWell is the 4th option. It's new - and different. I like to think of it as a blend of all three strategies. A combination of parental awareness/support, student engagement, and structured counseling.

Upfront cost? Modest. We're talking hundreds of dollars - not thousands.

Upside? Great. The student is in the driver's seat with Phil Black as their weekly mentor and Mom and Dad as informed parents who provide guidance and oversight as needed. The student learns all the critical skills inherent in this process in the right order, at the right time, and in digestible doses.

Each of these options have pros and cons. It's important that you find the right fit for you, your child, and your budget.

To learn more about (or to enroll in) PrepWell Academy, please visit our site here.

Author: PrepWell Academy's Founder, Phil Black, has spent a lifetime cracking the code on the world's most competitive programs: Yale University, Harvard Business School, Navy SEALs, Goldman Sachs, Entrepreneurship, Shark Tank, etc.

Inside PrepWell Academy, Black teaches students everything they need to know about the college admissions process in a series of expertly-timed, 3-5-minute, weekly training videos starting in 9th grade and continuing through 12th grade [Note: this program can only be joined in 9th or 10th grade]. My specialties include military service academies, ROTC scholarships, Ivy League, and student-athletes.

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