Capstone College and Career Advising

Why an Educational Advisor Like Capstone?

April 26th, 2018 by
Henry is a senior at a small school in a rural community.  He is an exceptional young man who is very gifted but opportunities do not travel through the lone traffic light in his small town and if they do, those opportunities would not stop; they would simply travel on through to get to their much larger destination where the pool of potential is much wider and deeper.  As a result, Henry does not have the resources or personality which would draw attention to his abilities as these opportunities speed past him.  To exacerbate things, he is a high achiever who finds himself struggling to manage the many activities he is involved in while maintaining a GPA which places him at the top of his class.  As a result, he wrestles with anxiety and stress as he strives to live up to the high expectations he has placed on himself.  His parents, knew he needed help so they turned to me and my company, Capstone College and Career Advising, an independent college advising company, for help.  They made the investment in our services and signed him up during his sophomore year.  Since his small town did not provide services like this in his community, we met online sharing a computer screen, keyboard and mouse.  It was just like being in the office - only navigating the college admission process through a virtual reality.  Capstone, helped him discover what he wanted to major in, highlight his accomplishments, stay ahead of deadlines in the admissions process and alleviate much of the stress which comes through the admissions process.  While Capstone’s services cost his parents thousands of dollars, it provided a significant return on their investment by helping him receive over $200,000 in scholarship offers -including a full ride based on merit to a competitive university.  Without the help of an independent college advising service like Capstone, he most likely would not have been noticed among the thousands of applicants from more recognizable high schools and larger communities.  

Independent educational advising is a relatively new industry which has grown in recent years due to two main factors.  One factor is the lack of resources in school districts.  They struggle to provide secondary campuses with the proper funding to staff an adequate number of counselors who can provide personal interaction with students.  According to the U.S. Department of Education, the average high school counselor is tasked with the responsibility of overseeing 500 students for various reasons ranging from emotional counseling, testing, scheduling, benchmark scores, and often times discipline issues.  This reduces the amount of time a counselor may spend helping a student prepare for college.  The reality is that a face to face meeting from a counselor to a student, if it happens at all, will be reduced to a minuscule portion of the school year thus limiting the number of students they can help through this difficult process.  This is why the United States Department of Education reports that students in public high school receive an average of just 38 minutes of personal advising on college admissions and only four out of ten high school students reported receiving college related information from their school counselor (IQS Research).  

The second factor contributing to the surge in Independent Educational Advisors is the increase in students who are going to college.  Since 2000, enrollment in colleges has risen by 5 million students according to the National Center for Educational Statistics.  College applications have increase by 45% since 2008 and acceptances has declined 15% during the same period according to a US News and World Report.  What does this mean?  Simply put, more students are vying for a more limited number of seats in the college classroom - leaving many college hopefuls with limited or no choices for a college education.  It also reveals that admissions standards for colleges are increasingly more competitive with many more obstacles appearing each year in the application process.  

When you combine these two factors together you see an ever-widening gap developing between the dwindling support and resources students receive from high school coupled with the accelerated expectations and barriers to the college admissions process.  This competitive environment places a great amount of stress and anxiety on the students as they try to navigate the choppy waters of college admissions through the high school years.  Students feel pressure to achieve higher grades on the SAT/ACT, enroll in stringent classes, and even cheating to achieve high grades in those classes they struggle to excel in. According to a Stanford News report, “pressure by parents and schools to achieve top scores has created stress levels among students—beginning as early as elementary school—that are so high that some educators regard it as a health epidemic…The number one cause of visits to Vaden Health Center used to be relationships, but now is stress and anxiety.”  

This is why Independent educational advisors are thriving today.  To relieve the stress and help lift the pressure from students and parents so they can enjoy their last years of high school together.  “There’s so much information,” says Mark Sklarow, executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA), one of several trade groups for private counselors. “It just creates more anxiety rather than less.”  This is why a recent Fox Business article reported, “Private counselors help alleviate that stress for students and parents by providing information, helping them find the best fit colleges for those kids, and then guiding them through the process, all while being their biggest cheerleader.”  Having the aid of a knowledgeable, outside source can remove some tension from student/parent relationships.  

You see, independent educational advisors have the tools, resources, knowledge and expertise to provide students with the least restrictive path to their journey for success in college admissions.  As an independent educational advisor, I can provide guidance and organization in areas of resume building, essay writing, completing strong applications, and maximizing success with scholarship opportunities - ensuring we highlight the best qualities of each student we work with.  I help develop a student’s unique strengths and assist in overcoming weak areas so the student can be poised for success.  My goal is not to replace their school counselor.  In fact, I partner with them to provide added resources to students which the school simply does not have the time during their day to provide.  Independent educational advisors like me do not fill college campuses with students who are not successful at a college campus; we help fill campuses with students who are a great match for the culture and academic standards of that campus.  These students thrive on these campuses and make significant contributions to the campuses whereas, they may not have had that opportunity without extra help and guidance along the way.  These colleges may not have benefited from these students simply because they may not have worded an essay the right way or missed a blank on the application process.  More importantly, we are allowed to play an important role in one of the most significant periods of a student’s life and that is why I love doing what I do!  I get to celebrate with students when they receive a significant scholarship.  I get to rejoice with them when they are accepted to the school they want to attend.  There is nothing more satisfying that seeing a student reach their goals and be successful.