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Our Approach

A note from our CEO:

In light of the recent college admissions scandal, we’re sharing some information about our work as college counselors, our philosophy and core values, and our place in the larger admissions community. We believe that the college admissions process can be a thoughtful, sane, and even joyful time in a teenager’s life. Done right, students move toward the next chapter in their lives with not only an acceptance letter to a great-fit school, but with life skills and tools for self-discovery that will continue to serve them long past college graduation.

- Joel Block

What Does An Education Consultant Do Anyway?

At Collegewise, we call ourselves “counselors” instead of “consultants” because it’s closer to the heart of the work that we do with our families. But, more broadly (and technically), we’re education consultants. The core of that work is recognizing this isn’t just about college – and focusing it all on college diminishes the depth and breadth of what we do every day. Because what we do is empower our students to be their best selves. It’s about making sure our students know what classes make most sense for them and their goals, which activities will allow them to thrive, what summer opportunities will help them grow, and how college fits into that broader picture of who they’re becoming. An education consultant, at their best, helps you navigate every piece of that journey. And that’s what we do, every day.

How Do I Pick the Right Counselor?

We preach helping students find their right-fit school, so naturally we also encourage finding the right-fit counselor.

How can you effectively evaluate your options and choose a college counselor with the knowledge, experience, and passion to advise your student through the application process? How can you choose a counselor who will connect with your student, serve as a role model and guide, encourage them to cultivate self-knowledge and reflection, and help them to find a college where they’ll thrive?

No matter who you work with, it’s important you feel there’s a fit. And that starts with figuring out what it is you’re most needing. If you’re thinking through some of the bigger questions above and want to dig in deeper, we’d like to offer some sage advice from our founder, here and here.

Or, if you’re ready to start looking through the options (aka, counselors) you can work with, you can peruse our counselors and their backgrounds here, or just give us a call to kick off that fit-finding mission.

What Makes Collegewise Different?

Since 1999, over 12,000 families have entrusted us with their students’ college admissions process. Nobody in the United States helps more kids get into college than we do. We are woven into the very fabric of the communities we serve when we speak at hundreds of high schools and local events each year. Tens of thousands of people read our newsletters, blog, and our book. And our entire team regularly presents at professional conferences throughout the country and world. We’re proud of our company, our team, and what we stand for. And we come to work every day excited to help our students achieve their goals.

Here’s what we see as our most important work: to share good quality information with each of our families, to combat fear with facts, to empower your student with the tools and information to take ownership of their next life chapter, and to make sure wherever they land, they can articulate on their own terms why they’re there, what they want to contribute, and what they want to get out of the experience.

What Are Our Core Values?

Below, we’re sharing a few excerpts of the core values from our employee handbook, but the whole thing is public if you’d like to see more.

We treat our work like a calling. We want to go home at the end of the day proud of the contributions we’ve made. We know that when we arrive at work each day, we never leave it at zero—we either make it a little better or a little worse. We want to make it a little better.

Do the right thing. It’s so simple, but so easy to lose sight of in a morass of policies and procedures. When in doubt, ask yourself what feels right. What’s fair? What would you do if this were your best friend or your partner? How would you want them to be treated in a similar situation?

Lean into the learning. We’re a little intolerant of intellectual laziness on the job here. Nobody cares what your high school GPA or test scores were, and we don’t expect you’ll do physics for fun on Saturday nights. But successful Wisers know there’s always more to learn about how to do great work in their jobs.

Spread the wealth of information. We make our living helping people who can afford to pay us, and we feel a responsibility to give back to the many members of the college-going community who cannot. Downloadable guidelines, webinars, blogs—we put a lot of free material out there in the universe for anyone who wants it. There’s always a lot more we can and should do in these areas, but we try every day to make sure we’re living these values and not just talking about them.

Where Does Our Expertise Come From?

Collegewise counselors come from a variety of backgrounds. Many are former admissions officers, high school counselors, and graduate degree holders. Even before they made Collegewise their full-time gig, counseling was their life’s work.

Each counselor goes through a rigorous 40-hour training with members of our leadership team before starting a counseling practice. Our counselors also take advantage of what we call the “Hive Mind”—we’re constantly asking each other questions and learning from one another’s areas of expertise. While you’ll always interact with one counselor who knows your family best, your student will benefit from the collective experience of more than 60 Collegewise admissions experts.

As our founder shared on his blog, the best way to describe our secret is that we don’t actually hire people. We recruit people.

How Does Collegewise Engage With The College Admissions Community?

We’re proud, active members of the National Association for College Admissions Counseling (NACAC), as well as many local and regional ACACs. And we’re not just in it for the membership card: Collegewise counselors regularly present at conferences and serve on committees. Many of our counselors are members of the Independent Educational Consultants Association. Both of these entities have strict codes of ethics, which we adhere to unwaveringly. You can see those principles here (NACAC) and here (IECA). We’re also proud partners with Michelle Obama’s Reach Higher initiative (more here).