How paid counselors are helping students with demanding college application process

Lara Zammit works with paid professional who helps her applications stand out

By Karen Drew - Reporter/Anchor

FARMINGTON HILLS, Mich. - Lara Zammit is a senior at Mercy High School who is working on her college applications. 

The 17-year-old is pursuing her dream of becoming a doctor. 

"Some sort of doctor," she said. "I'm interested in the brain, so maybe in like neurology."

Zammit works with a paid professional, Julie Gould, who helps make sure her applications stand out. 

"She's helped by editing my essays and really helping me with content. She is very knowledgeable about the different schools and what they want," said Zammit. 

Gould is a licensed professional counselor. She is nationally certified and works for a company called College Admissions Consulting. Her job is to help kids get through the college application process. 

"Requirements have continued to go up, and college admissions have become more and more competitive," said Gould. 

Universities came out with a common application years ago to simplify the process. However, now many schools accept additional essays. That's where the competition really grows. 

"I'm always telling kids, don't tell them about yourself. Show them these traits about yourself," said Gould. 

Gould suggests students don't write they are a leader and instead write about and explain how they are a leader. Don't write you are creative -- show how you are creative. 

"She understands what colleges are looking for in an essay," said Marina Zammit, Lara's mother. "So she was able to help Lara craft an essay that showcased her abilities and what she had to offer to that college."

Marina said Gould helps take away the stress between a parent and child. Gould said students their early high school careers need to stand out and do activities such as volunteering and taking leadership roles. 

"Leadership is definitely a big deal. It's almost like required," she said. 

Gould also helps students find the school that's going to be a perfect fit for them. 

"We're talking about things like do you see yourself in an urban environment? You know, do you want to go far away from home?" she said. "We try to be very realistic with kids about chances for admittance."

Gould has more advice:

  • Make a college wishlist
  • Know all the deadlines
  • Create an action plan
  • Show examples of who you are
  • Start early

"Just because you have someone helping you doesn't mean that you can just slack off and wait until the last minute," she said.

How much does this help cost?

Typically, you can spend about $175 an hour for this kind of counselor. On average it can take about 5 hours to get a student prepared. However, it depends on the student. 

"It's the best money I ever spent," said Marina. 

10 things juniors should be doing to prepare for college admission:

  • Maintain best possible grades
  • Research colleges
    Visit as many colleges as possible.  Visit college websites and talk to family     and friends about college experiences.  Start a list of colleges that interest     you. Make a list of the most important criteria for you in a college. Attend     college presentations at your high school.
  • Create a resume
    Include all activities in and out of school and highlight leadership positions.
  • Create a Testing Plan (ACT vs. SAT)
    Determine which test is best for you and when you’ll take it. Also, note if you need to take any SAT II Subject Tests.
  • Visit Your High School Counselor 
    Discuss with your counselor your course selections and your college search.     Inquire with him or her about resources available at your school. Make sure     you have met all graduation requirements.
  • Take the PSAT
    Juniors can qualify for the National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the PSAT.
  • Request Letters of Recommendation 
    In the spring of your junior year, ask teachers who know you well for letters of recommendation. Typically, you won’t need more than 2-3 letters and they won’t be completed until the fall of senior year. Be sure to follow up with your teachers and thank them.
  • Stay Involved in Activities
    Consider taking on a leadership role. Colleges are looking for depth of     commitment rather than breadth of involvement.
  • Begin a Scholarship Search
  • Make Meaningful Summer Plans

Provided by College Admissions Consulting (www.cactoday.com

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