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Why hire a consultant?
I am an organized accountability coach who knows how to connect with teenagers. Together, we have fun AND we work hard. I have studied the secrets and perfected the skill of presenting a college applicant in the best light, and I wholeheartedly enjoy this process. The parents of my students are smart, but busy. They are invested in the process, but they are also overwhelmed. More than anything, parents want their child to discover and present the best version of themselves, to have that chance to be successful.
One of my parents is a psychotherapist who is raising a son who is distractible. She told me in our first meeting, “ I just want to enjoy my son before he heads off to college, I don’t want to fight with him to read or write anymore. He should work with you, Alycia. Then, he and I will enjoy his last couple of years before he leaves for college.”
Is the cost of hiring a college consultant worth the money?
If you hire me, I’ll help your family form a strategy for saving money at the many colleges or universities that are generous with merit. For example, my current student has decided with his parents that he would like to get a full scholarship to a school for which they will most likely be accepted. They have a reasonable request, and I have a proven plan to help them afford college. In the end, the family will save thousands of dollars, above and beyond my comprehensive consulting fees.
What is Alycia's background?
I have been a public school teacher for twenty four years, and I have my masters degree in Health and Consumer Sciences Education. I am certified in the state of Massachusetts in career and vocational education. I have taught several college and career preparatory and mental health education classes over the years, while working very closely with school counselors and adjustment counselors. My students range in learning differences, and I know how to modify projects (both short and lengthy) for students with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Executive Functioning, Anxiety and Depression. Additionally, I have Sheltered English Immersion training, so I am able to work with students whose first language is NOT English.
For six years, I volunteered my time as a college consultant at my high school, with some of my students accepting admissions offers to the University of Alabama, University of Massachusetts, Boston University, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Endicott College School of Nursing and Rochester Institute of Technology. After being told by many students and parents that I have a “knack” for this kind of work, I began advising students outside of my school and in my community. I am so proud of my students who were accepted to and now attend, The University of Miami, The University of Massachusetts at Amherst and Lowell, Clark University, The University of New Hampshire, Rice University, Penn State University, Syracuse University, and many more.
When are payments due?
Monthly automated payments are due after the first free consultation and after the contract is signed. Then, meetings will begin. Families may choose to pay in full at any time.
What is comprehensive consulting?
The “Services Offered” portion of my website lists all of the services I will provide once your family commits to AK College Consulting. A comprehensive approach is what works best. Your child will get the time and guidance that they need when they work with me. I will be available by phone, email, Zoom, and in person as needed and as stated in our contract. I am a public school teacher at heart, and being available to encourage students is what drives me.
Are there any hidden fees?
No. The Comprehensive Package includes everything listed in the “Services Offered” section.
How do you keep current with higher educational trends?
I am an active member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association, and I read their updates daily. I spend about twenty hours each week, reading and keeping up to date on higher education and college admissions. This is my commitment to excellence, for myself, my students and their families.
What if my child struggles with their mental health, but wants to attend college?
 A. Ten Colleges That Have Quality Supports For Students Who Struggle With Mental Health Challenges According to Therapist, B. Carey Williams

1. University of Pittsburgh: Individual and group therapies, sexual assault programs, psychological resources, alcohol and drug dependency programs, peer educators and counselors, a dedicated stress-free zone to reduce physical and emotional stress and mindfulness meditation
2. The Ohio State University: Meetings for those recovering from addiction, wellness-coaching sessions for those with stress, academic anxiety and relationship concerns, sexual violence awareness and prevention, and nutrition coaching
3. The University of California, Berkeley: A dedicated social services division, student assistance for coping with mental and physical illness, eating disorder assistance, alcohol and drug dependency program, domestic violence assistance, and career path counseling
4. North Carolina State University: General mental health wellness counseling, specific interventions for students who are significantly older or younger than traditional students, stress management workshops, meditation workshops, and participation in the Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR) program for suicide prevention
5. University of Florida: Mobile mental health counseling and therapy groups, focus on assisting students with stress, depression or bereavement, and a strong follow-up mental health system
6. University of Maine: Good Samaritan program that encourages students to report alcohol and drug-based emergencies, a coalition on alcohol, drug and tobacco use, and classroom instruction on substance misuse
7. University of California, Davis: Massaging recliners, guided meditation audio programs, and general psychiatric services
8. Colby College: Alcohol and substance abuse experts, nutrition counseling, psychiatric assessment services, and general medical and women’s health services
9. Drexel University: Mental health kiosks where students can receive a private mental health screening, nutritional wellness counseling, mental health counseling,18,000 square feet of exercise space with top-quality equipment, and a six-lane pool with professional standard squash courts
10. University of Miami: Mental health counseling, computer-driven diet analysis, a comprehensive smoking cessation program, and an innovative scheme called the Canes4Play program, which improves mental health through play

  B. Here are some recommended resources and information for students and families (Google the title below):

• College Mental Health Program at McLean Hospital
• 20 Colleges With the Best Mental Health Counselors in 2023
• What Students With Mental Health Challenges Should Consider in the College Search
• College Guide for Students With Psychiatric Disabilities | BestColleges
• College ReEntry Fountain House | What We Offer

ESAs or Emotional Support Animals
For a student to have an ESA, they need to have a documented medical condition such as major depression, bipolar disorder, PTSD, or another health or mental health condition that meets the definition of disability under the Fair Housing Act of 1988 (FHA). There is a great deal of legal backing that supports ESAs in college dormitories. "Emotional support animals are now recognized under two disability-related federal laws: Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the FHA. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provides legal oversight of ESAs under the Fair Housing Act. At colleges and universities, this translates into a working partnership between the campus housing office and the accessibility office."
How long or how often will students meet with Alycia?
Students in their Junior and Senior year will meet with me two to three times per month for quick check-ins of fifteen minutes and/or one hour work sessions. A lot of the time we spend will depend on the needs of the student during that time. Freshmen and Sophomores will meet with me one to two times per month, and meetings will last up to an hour when we discuss course registrations, career assessments results, and summer activities and extracurriculars. If we need more time, we will take it, without watching the clock and worrying about hourly fees.
Should parents attend consultant student meetings?
Parents are welcome to attend any meeting, and part of the comprehensive package includes meetings where I update parents as needed.
How will we communicate?
In addition to in person meetings, I use email, Telegram (a messaging application we download on our phones) and ZOOM.
What will you do to ensure that my child will land at their “right fit” school?
This is why comprehensive consulting is so important to the success of the process. By spending time with your child, and their families, we will feel more confident about who they are and where they need to be, academically, socially and emotionally.Together, we will match what we know about the applicant to a particular school. Because I have researched and toured so many colleges, I hope to offer some insight and add schools to the list that may not have otherwise been considered.
What is the purpose of the careers, skills and personality assessments each AKCC student will take when they work with Alycia?
When students take the career and skills assessment through AK College Consulting, they become more self-aware and self-confident. We get to the heart of who they are through several conversations and validated tools, and we also have a better idea of what careers and college majors are of interest to them. It is a lot to expect that a high school student will know exactly what they want to do when they graduate from high school or college. Through the career and assessment process, we will eliminate the obvious while spending a good deal of time figuring out the direction for which they will turn and thrive.
Will AK College Consulting guarantee admissions to colleges/universities?
There is no possible way for me or any college counselor to guarantee admission to a university. My job is to guide the student with patience, thought, and meaning. I am an expert in college advising, and I will treat your child the way in which I hope my child would be treated if the tables were turned.
Will we meet in person or online?
What works for you? I enjoy meeting virtually and in person, especially if you live in a warm place! All kidding aside, I am flexible, and we will discuss what works best for your child and the family. My Class of 2023 students are virtual because they live all over America. We all think it is working out really well in terms of communication.
When should a high school student begin the process of preparing for college?
I meet with students as early as ninth grade, but I think this really depends on the student. Some experts recommend that students wait until Junior year because it can create undue stress to start the conversation any earlier. My own children started at the end of Sophomore year, and by the Spring of Junior year, they were in the thick of the admissions tasks to-do list. This seems like an ideal plan for most kids, though one size does not fit all.
What are the benefits of using an independent college counselor when our high school already has a guidance/school counselor?
As a former high school teacher, I have had the privilege to work closely with school counselors in college and post secondary planning. Most college counselors are stretched too thin, especially with the rise of mental health complications in teens over the past ten years. School counselors are pressed for time, and it is not their fault. That is where I come in to save the day or the year!
What sets AK College Consultant apart from other college advising services?
“Bonding Before Business,” is the phrase one of my favorite teachers repeated to us in graduate school. I love teenagers, and my students will know it shortly after meeting with me. I spend hours and hours reading about best practices, and I have worked with countless students in their admissions processes. My comprehensive services packaging provides me with the opportunity to give your child what they need when they need it. In this way, you, as the parent, can and will relax more. Leave the gentle reminders and nagging to me.
What is the AKCC strategy when assisting with college essays?
A good teacher is able to extract from the student, the best of their personal talents. This is my overarching objective as your family’s college consultant. I will encourage my student to write a piece that makes them stand out from the rest of the applicants, keeping in mind that admissions officers will be more receptive to captivating reads. For ethical reasons, I will not write the essay, but I will help with brainstorming, providing feedback, and editing.
What is the coaching/consulting strategy for the “B” student?
Three years ago, a student walked into my office and told me that he didn't like school, he didn't like to study, and he had some learning differences. He was going to college for lack of another plan. The admissions process made him anxious. What he didn't know at the time, was that he was and is more than his Grade Point Average and standardized test scores in high school. Through a series of questions, conversations, and some mutual respect, we arrived at a place where he was able to share with me all of the amazing things he did throughout high school. From making macaroni and cheese for his little brother, to coaching hockey, and building sheds for a nearby construction company, my student had grit. With my coaching, he felt comfortable enough to communicate who he truly was on his application and his essay. He received merit scholarships and acceptances that surprised him and gave him hope. Now, he is a member of The National Business Honor Society at Johnson and Wales University in Rhode Island. He also made the Dean’s list this year!
What about the student who hopes for admittance to an Ivy League school?
Many competitive colleges and universities are looking for students who have more to offer than the perfect grade point averages and standardized test scores. I ask my students many questions to help them find out who they really are, where their passions lie and where they are going from here. We develop personal themes so that schools have faith in the student’s ability to find a job, and I provide assistance with some direction. When an applicant is clear about their intentions, admissions officers have confirmation of the likelihood that a student will contribute to that competitive school in a meaningful way. I encourage the thorough research of each and every school for which they apply, and in this way I help the student present themselves as a unique candidate unlike any other.
Do you offer SAT and ACT tutoring?
I do not tutor students who need assistance with SATs or ACTs, but I will connect you with only the best in the business.
Do you offer support with the FAFSA and CSS profiles?
I am not an expert in these areas, but I know people who are well versed in financial aid services. My area of specialization is in obtaining merit money or grants.
If my child has low test scores and/or lower than average grades should they apply to college?
Yes. There is a college or university for every type of learner! Everyone’s path is different, and getting into a top tier school isn’t always the answer.
What is test-optional?
Test optional means that some colleges offer students the option of whether or not to submit their test scores.
Should my teen take standardized tests like the SAT or ACT if they aren’t good test takers or they become anxious in testing situations?
A test taker may be surprised at their outcome! Be sure to reach out to the school counselor to seek guidance about testing accommodations as needed.
What are some extracurricular activities/clubs that colleges like to see on a student application?
Your son or daughter should do what they enjoy doing, so long as it is meaningful and productive. Admissions officers can tell immediately when a student participated in a bunch of activities just to check off boxes, versus the student who has created their path or a passion. According to a Stanford admissions officer, “We are looking for the student that ZAGS when everyone else is ZIGGING.” Stanford, like many schools, is looking for personal essays and extracurricular activities that truly stand out as unique.
What leadership roles do you recommend for students?
Applicants should stay true to what they want to do with their time outside of academics, while parents should encourage continued student exploration of their interests. Leadership roles come in many forms. Tutoring counts as leadership, just like being team captain shows leadership.
How many years of World Languages (Spanish, French) should my child take?
If your child wants to increase their chances of admission to a competitive school, then I recommend that they take four years of a World Language even if the high school graduation requirement is different. If your teen does not like learning languages, they may want to research the requirements of their schools of interest to be sure that they meet the minimum requirements for a particular school or university.
How many AP (Advanced Placement) or Honors classes should my child take?
Admissions officers like to see that the student takes as many challenging courses as they possibly can within the school they attend. An 80% average in a more challenging class is preferred over a 100% in a less challenging course at the high school level. Generally speaking, AP classes are more time-consuming than they are difficult, so I think time commitment is a consideration.
How often should my high school teen and I talk about college and the whole process?
I recommend that you make a standing appointment with your child to discuss all things college during a designated time of the week. Maybe that meeting can be anywhere from one to two hours depending upon how busy both of you are or how close you are to application deadlines. The point of a designated time is to alleviate stress. Though it is important to talk about college admissions, it can weigh heavily on the student if it’s discussed too frequently.
What is a Letter of Recommendation? When should a student ask for them from teachers?
A recommendation letter is something that is written by a core teacher who your teen had in class during Junior year. This teacher thinks your teen is amazing, and they willingly accept the task of writing the letter. Ideally, applicants ask their teacher later on in their Junior year. Then, the teacher has the time to write over the summer.

What is “demonstrated interest?”
Demonstrated Interest is the way in which an applicant shows that they are interested in a particular school. Depending upon the college and their focus, some schools weigh demonstrated interest more heavily than others. Check your school’s Common Data Set for the most recent year to learn more. Demonstrated interest is “demonstrated” through things like college tours, interviews, replying to and opening up emails received from a particular college, etc.
Why are college admissions so competitive nowadays?
There are a few reasons why… a. Social media has become an avenue for exceptional marketing for a small percentage of schools. b. The pandemic caused an interruption and students postponed school. This led to a backlog of applicants. c.The Common Application has made it easier for students to apply to more schools. D. Students are applying to more schools now that many schools are test optional.
What should we do if we don’t have the ability to travel and tour schools of interest?
Before a student commits to a school, I believe they must visit it in person. It’s extremely important. Virtual tours are okay, but a student may be making a big mistake if they do not visit the school before attending.

What if my child wants to go to a competitive school (one that accepts less than 25 percent of its applicants), but they recently got a “C” in a core class?
These things happen, it’s not the end of the world! If the student thinks they have a valid excuse, it may be worth mentioning in the additional comments section of the application.
What if my teen doesn’t get into a “good” college?
There are so many fantastic schools out there. A “good school” is one that offers a fantastic career services center, quality education and a place where a person will grow intellectually, academically, and more. The process of finding the “right fit” school can take some time, but it’s well worth the research.
What is the difference between the FAFSA and the CSS profile?
FAFSA stands for Free Application For Federal Student Aid and CSS is the acronym for College Scholarship Service. The FAFSA is used to determine eligibility for federal financial aid. The CSS asks for more detailed information about your family's financial situation. Some colleges require the CSS, and some do not, there is a list of those schools online.
What is the Net Price Calculator and the EFC?
The NPC (found on each college website) allows prospective students to enter their financial information to determine the cost of attending a school. The EFC or Estimated Family Contribution should be about 90 percent accurate, which is why it’s beneficial to save or print out that information once you receive it.
What happens if we don’t get started on the college “stuff’ until Senior year, months before the application deadlines?
I think it’s best for students to take their time, do their research on schools, and take great care when writing personal essays, etc. It can be overwhelming for Seniors who are scrambling around during the time of Halloween and the December holidays to make their deadlines. But every teen has their process, and I’ve seen many students apply later on with little planning, and it was still okay.
Do you have any recommendations for making college “affordable?”
Go to a local state school. Ask professors if you can assist with paid research projects once you get to school. Teens should apply to schools known to be generous with merit. Students should apply to schools where their stats are higher than the school’s average applicant.
How many schools should my child consider when it comes time to apply?
I like the number 10, but of course, that number varies by student. Applicants are applying to so many schools these days, and I think it can create undue stress and a decrease in the quality of the submitted application. Applying to many colleges takes time, especially when you consider that many of the competitive schools have additional essays on top of the personal essay.
What if my teen applied Early Decision ED 1 or ED 2, and we realize we cannot afford the tuition OR my son/daughter changes their mind about that particular school?
The applicant must be sure that they want to attend their ED 1 or 2 school. Before committing to ED, one must use the net price calculator found on the school’s website and expect to pay whatever the predicted cost states. Backing out of ED looks really bad for the student and their school counselor, and it’s frowned upon.

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