Frequently Asked Questions
What do college consultants do?
College consultants offer assistance and guidance with all aspects of college planning and admissions. We work with students to identify their academic goals and personal interests. We provide guidance in selecting high school courses and extracurricular activities. With the students' goals and interests in mind, we create a list of colleges for students to consider. Finally, we help our students create compelling and convincing applications.
Most importantly, college consultants are educators. We equip you and your student with the tools and information you need to make one of life's most important decisions. In working with The College Spy, you will gain a comprehensive understanding of the college admissions process, the trends in admissions and how they relate to your student's circumstances, and the key topics you need to understand to find a college that best meets your student's needs and preferences. The College Spy addresses practical topics such as standardized testing, financial aid, college majors, careers, summer programs, interviewing, and essays.
We are here to make sure you do not miss something. The College Spy helps you see both the trees and the forest.
Why would someone hire a college consultant?
There are many good reasons to hire a college consultant. Families choose The College Spy for many reasons, including:
- Because college choice and the admissions process is stressful, detailed, confusing and very, very important.
- To assist in analyzing and articulating academic and social needs and goals, and identifying colleges that will provide the "best fit" for those needs and goals.
- For expert, personalized advice on what colleges are really looking for, how to write the admissions essay, and how financial aid works.
- Because school guidance counselors have large caseloads, limited time and are not focused solely on your student.
- For a knowledgeable sounding board and a reality check. When it comes to college admissions, "you don't know what you don't know." A qualified college consultant will have the level of knowledge necessary to fill in the gaps in your own.
- Because our services are designed to be a convenient and efficient part of a busy lifestyle.
- To learn about unique educational programs and opportunities.
- For assistance with organization and time management.
- To take the pressure off of Mom and Dad and help maintain family harmony during a stressful process.
- So that their student's unique personality and talents shine through in their college application!
Simply put, engaging a college consultant is an investment in your student's future success and well-being.
Do you visit many colleges and universities?
I am expert on colleges so you don't have to be. I spend many days each year “on the road” visiting colleges. I tell my students that the best way to get to know a college is to visit and I hold myself to the same standard. I visit approximately 40 colleges each year. I attend information sessions, take tours and meet with admissions officers. I chat with students. I eat in the dining hall. I know the colleges and universities that your student will be considering. Click on the button below for my list of recently visited colleges and universities.
When is the best time to begin working with The College Spy?
We strive to achieve great outcomes for students no matter when we begin to work together. The College Spy offers services in four packages that are designed to meet the needs of your student's stage in the admission's process. We can also work with you to design a customized program tailored to your unique needs and timing.
While many families come to us when their students are juniors or seniors, it can be very beneficial to begin our relationship as early as the summer before ninth grade. The College Spy offers important services to ninth and tenth graders including developing a four-year high school plan that addresses curriculum, standardized testing, and extracurricular activities. As your student matures and grows academically and personally, we will assist in defining educational and career goals that will influence many of the decisions your student will make in high school. Developing a relationship with us early in your student’s high school career ensures that you are educated about how each decision you make can potentially affect college admissions decisions. Additionally, because Michelle has worked closely with administrators and teachers as the Director of Guidance in two high schools, she knows how schools function. She will teach your student how to fully take advantage of all the resources offered at your high school.
What happens at the free initial consultation?
Our first conversation is a chance to see if The College Spy is a good fit for your family. We want to know your concerns and what you are looking for in a college consultant. We will also have some questions about your student. We will explain our services and how they can specifically meet your needs. Additionally, you are bound to get some of your college admissions questions answered. We honestly can't help ourselves. We love this topic and want to help.
Does The College Spy focus only on students who want to attend elite colleges and universities?
Absolutely not! The College Spy works with students with a broad range of abilities, talents and goals. We believe in finding our students colleges that are the "best fit" for their unique academic and personal needs. If this is an elite college, great! If it is not, that's great too! We start with your student, not preconceived notions or preferences for certain schools or programs.
Do you work with students with learning disabilities?
Yes. As a guidance counselor for 16 years, Michelle regularly worked with students with learning disabilities. Some of her most talented, hardworking, and successful students took advantage of special education services. She believes that finding the right fit program is the key to success and is determined to find those programs for her students.
Michelle has attended workshops and taken graduate level courses in working with students with disabilities. She is familiar with appropriate programs for students with learning disabilities and can advise you on how to work with the office of disabilities on campus. She participated in IEP and 504 meetings. She is knowledgeable about IDEA and Section 504.
Do you work with international students?
Absolutely. Some of our most rewarding experiences have been with international students. In addition to the full range of services that would be appropriate for any of US students, The College Spy offers a package tailored specifically for the international student which addresses the learning curve that the international student faces regarding the US college and university system, cultural differences which may impact college choice, the application package and student life once in the US, and the the specialized programs and resources for international students offered by many colleges and universities.
How personalized are your services?
Very. The first two hours of each of our packages is spent getting to know the parents and student for the purpose of understanding their unique needs and goals. Taking your needs and goals into consideration as well as where the student is in the college planning process and the time available to complete our work, we outline a schedule of sessions and what is to be accomplished in each. Although there are similarities, no two students have the exact same process.
What if my student's needs are different from the packages?
If our four programs are not the perfect fit, we will work with you to design a customized program tailored to your unique needs and timing. Contact us to discuss it or schedule a free consultation.
Do you work mostly with the student or mostly with the parent?
Most scheduled meetings are with the student. You will receive an email summary after each meeting. Between meetings, parents and the consultant exchange ideas over the phone, by email or, if you prefer, by text. There is time built into each program so that you can schedule a meeting with the consultant as necessary. Parents are always encouraged to contact us whenever they have a question or concern.
We have found that this schedule is most beneficial to students. However, every family is different and we are happy to discuss an arrangement that works best for you. We want you to feel comfortable with your level of involvement in the process. The College Spy also strives to assure that our services are delivered on a schedule and in a manner that fits with your family's busy lifestyle.
Do you work in conjunction with my child’s school counselor?
Many school counselors are open to working with a college consultant and it is our preference to collaborate. Unfortunately, some school counselors view the hiring of a college consultant as a negative reflection on their own abilities and may be resistant to working with us. However, because Michelle was a high school counselor for many years, The College Spy is well placed to break through these barriers so that we can work collaboratively with your student's school counselor to achieve the best outcomes for your student.
What is a “best fit” college?
A "best fit" college is a school where your student can develop their interests and talents and take steps toward achieving their goals. For some students, this means a school that offers a specific major. For others, it is a school where they can explore various fields before committing to a major. A best fit college is a school where your student is happy and comfortable. The college campus will be the student's home for the next four years. It is important that they like it there!
When searching for a best fit college, we will consider size, location, academic programs, campus "vibe", activities offered, and the availability of leadership opportunities, internships, study abroad and academic or personal assistance. We will talk extensively about what a campus must have for the individual student to be comfortable and thrive. Then, we will find it.
What is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator personality assessment and how can it help my student?
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is the most widely used personality assessment in the world. The assessment helps students understand the following four aspects of their personality and how these aspects affect their behavior.
• Where they prefer to direct their focus (outward or inward?)
• How they prefer to take in information (step-by step or big picture?)
• How they prefer to make decisions (using thoughts or feelings?)
• How they prefer to organize their world (planned and orderly or flexible and spontaneous?)
The MBTI does not label students and it does not tell them what they are good at. The MBTI simply helps students understand what they prefer. When we take away the pressures and expectations of a student’s environment (homework, friendships, rules at home and rules at school) what would the student naturally do?
Michelle is an MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) certified practitioner. The MBTI is included as part of The College Spy's Planning the High School Years and Countdown to College packages.
Will you meet with our family in person if that is our preference?
I would love to meet you! And I do "e-meet" with my students and their families regularly via video conference as well as by phone. The e-advising format allows us to maximize the use of your time and work within the limitations of your and your student's busy schedules. I meet with my students and their families when they are available and via their preferred methods of electronic communication: phone, video conference, email and even text. Regarding meeting in person, I work with students all over the country and the world. Unfortunately, it is unlikely that we live in the same area. However, I travel very frequently to visit colleges all over the United States. If my college visits bring me to your area, I will definitely let you know.
What are the student's responsibilities?
For this process to have the most successful outcome, it is important that the student is engaged. Our expectations are that the student:
• Approach the college admissions process with an open mind and be willing to consider different options.
• Communicate all personal needs and goals honestly and openly.
• Come to each meeting prepared, having completed all assignments.
• Share all academic information (grades, test scores, etc.) with the college consultant.
• Be responsible for meeting all deadlines set by high school, colleges, scholarship committees and the college consultant.
• Complete his/her own application and write his/her own essay. Of course guidance will be provided. However, the work will be the student’s own.
What are the parent’s responsibilities?
We consider ourselves partners in college planning. We ask that you:
• Be a willing participant in the college admissions process, but recognize and respect when to let the student guide his or her own path.
• Communicate family needs and values regarding college choice.
• Communicate financial factors that may influence college choice.
• Share the student’s academic history including report cards, transcripts, official score reports from standardized testing and IEP or 504 plans (if applicable.)
• Share any psychological information that is important to consider in choosing a college.
• Visit colleges with your student.
Can you guarantee admissions to certain universities?
No. We educate students and families on what colleges are looking for in their applicants and we advise regarding how to make yourself a strong candidate for admission. For example, we can advise on extracurricular activities, course selection, college interviews, and demonstrated interest. But, we make no guarantee of admission or of the receipt of financial aid. We strive to assure that your student identifies a range of schools that suit their needs and goals so that even if the first choice school does not offer a place, your student will have other excellent choices.
How can we pay for your services?
You can pay by check or direct debit / wire transfer. Your enrollment package will have specific instructions on payment.
How can I get started working with The College Spy?
Click on the button below to begin working with The College Spy.