Independent college counseling to help students make the most of the college opportunity. Yarmouth Educational Consultants Inc.

A few guiding principles

1. The goal is not to help students get into college; it is to help them have a great college education. A college diploma has some value today. A great college education has much, much more value. 25 years ago, just having a college degree was a big boost for career opportunities. Today, more than ever, the quality of the larger college experience really matters.
2. You can find college consultants who will do the whole college process for the student and parents. I am not one. The college process is a complex one, but a very valuable one as students move away from their family and on to a new part of their life. A college consultant can be another voice and another ear, but should not take this very important process away from the student and parents.
3. After 25+ years of advising families on colleges and college admissions, I am more convinced than ever of the value of the process. It comes at a time when parent and child relations can be strained, as the student wrestles with moving beyond his or her family. Students are looking for multiple-choice answers for success in the career world. Parents wrestle with the same, but know that the answers are not so simple. Students need help wrestling with these issues. Most students don't want the help from their parents.
It is time of transitions and a time when we must help them see that this college process is for them and their future. If they are still doing it for their parents or their guidance counselor, we miss a great opportunity, and they remain under-invested in their education and the design of their future.
4. My background is education. I am not a financial advisor. I do help families understand the college financial aid process and how to make the most of it, but the financial aid process is actually quite complex and if the concern is to maximize the return on your college investment versus just cutting costs, choosing the right school that also works best financially takes time, thought, and planning.
5. Starting early is a very good idea! "College planning" is the part that most often gets missed; not financial planning, and not college match-making at the end of high school, but rather building interests and skills and knowledge to create great college opportunities. For this reason, I encourage families to begin meeting with me well before junior or senior year in high school. The cost is the same, the results are always much better.
6. Because I almost always encourage students to consider all their college options - all 4000 in the U.S., plus some great ones in Canada and elsewhere - students need time and should start early.
7. My role should be to make the college process easier and more productive. As the college process becomes more associated with stress and pressure (unfortunately), my role needs to be to make the process and the results more positive. Students will never have a time in their life with more opportunity and more choices in front of them. We need to help them see the opportunity and the fun of this, not the stress.
8. Students, and more often parents, talk about the college application process being overwhelming. I don’t believe it is or should be, but it is a very important and valuable, and maybe even complex, process. When I help students through the college process I expect a lot of myself and of the student. We set the bar high -- not just to get into the most selective college possible, but to find and get into the best college for the student. The college process only becomes overwhelming when the student waits too long to become engaged in the process. Most students have spent the past twelve years following the path that their teachers and parents have laid out for them. A successful college process requires a new approach by the student. The student , not adults, will determine the success of the college application process and the value of his or her college education. Few, if any, high school students know what college or career will be best for them, but those that come closest to the best college and career will be those who engage themselves in this exploration process and lead their way.

Bob Stuart
advice@yecinc.com
207-846-6770