A Personal Perspective on College Selection

SC Test Prep

Since February, I have been blogging to help students and their parents navigate the often muddy waters of college admissions and financial aid. As the academic year and admission season wind to a close, I will take a summer writing break and leave you with the answer to an important question: Why am I an authoritative voice on college admissions?

I am the Communications Director and Educational Consultant for SC Test Prep, a new nonprofit here in Spartanburg dedicated to improving educational opportunity in the Upstate. Prior to joining SC Test Prep, I spent five years working in the undergraduate admission offices of Wofford College, Emory University, and Georgia State University. At Emory, I completed graduate research focused on improving access to higher education for economically marginalized students. I am also an associate member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA).

All that education and experience as well as the continual training necessary to maintain membership in IECA give me a thorough knowledge not just of admission trends and scholarship criteria, but also of the types of students who are typically successful at each type of institution.

To use my own experience as an example, it may seem obvious that if a student had the opportunity to attend either Emory or Georgia State, they would pick Emory since it is a highly selective institution, possesses elite faculty and facilities, and for years has been knocking on the door of a top 20 ranking among national research universities. Nevertheless, there are high-achieving students who would be a better fit and likely be more successful attending Georgia State. Moreover, there are specific majors and programs at Georgia State, such as Actuarial Science, that any school would be hard-pressed to match. Given its affordability, current focus on attracting out-of-state students, and location in the heart of Atlanta, Georgia State is an excellent option for many students, but one of which many outside of Georgia are unaware. As a consultant, part of my responsibility is to point out these “diamonds in the rough” and help direct my clients to the school where they will be happiest and most successful.

To use another example, at the beginning of every SC Test Prep course, seminar, or workshop, we tell students that standardized test scores are only good for two things:

1) Helping them get into the school that is the best fit for them.

2) Helping them earn merit-based scholarship awards so they can more easily attend the school that is the best fit for them.

Noticeably absent in the roles of these scores is actually helping the student decide what and where that best fit is. The point we are making is that, though it may not seem like it to anxious students and parents, there is more to a college decision than test scores, GPA, rigor, class rank, etc. This is the same perspective I have shared in my posts over the past few months. If you have any questions or if you would like to set up an initial consultation, please contact me at 864.590.5899 or rob@sctestprep.com. Be sure to check back next fall when I will blog through the entire admissions cycle with seniors and their families. Have a wonderful and productive summer!