College Placement // Case Histories

These case histories are representative summaries of the work EducationFirst! has done for families and students. Student names and schools have been changed to protect privacy.

Steve - Independent and Unfocused

Steve is a talented boy. He has a 3.8 GPA, is ranked in the top 10% of his class, scored 1410 on his SAT I, plays one varsity sport and is involved in a variety of school activities. Steve is at the end of his junior year at a top boarding school and has committed to be a counselor at a summer camp. Steve is an independent boy who is not listening to his parent's advice to focus on college.

EducationFirst! (EF) met with Steve, did a lot of listening, and concluded that Steve was so busy at school that he was unable to see the big picture. EF told Steve he "was in trouble, he didn't know it and he had to get serious about college." After two additional meetings, EF helped Steve develop a personal profile that highlighted his strengths, major interests and personal goals for college. EF then suggested a list of schools which complemented Steve's personal profile and a summer plan to visit 15 colleges before starting his commitment at summer camp. Steve began traveling the day after he left school. He fairly soon revised his original concept of going to college in a city. He preferred a more suburban, and peaceful environment. When he arrived at camp he had narrowed his list to 7 schools and began completing his applications. EF met with Steve at the end of the summer to do a final check on his applications and to offer advice on his essays. When Steve returned for his senior year, he knew that he wanted to apply early decision to Colby. In mid December, he was admitted.

Sara - Early Decision or Regular Admission?

Sara always worked hard in school. She was on the honor roll, took three advanced placement courses, was a member of the debating team, played varsity basketball, and volunteered at church. She was also a very good violin player.

EducationFirst! (EF) helped Sara to expand her college choices. By mid October of her senior year, she had completed three college applications. She was having difficulty deciding if she should focus on one of the three colleges and apply early, or take a more measured approach and apply regular admission to 8-10 colleges. EF helped Sara to redefine her interests and skills, her aspirations and hopes for college and after college. EF suggested to Sara that she visit her top choices again and really look at her areas of special interest. EF emphasized that she should apply early decision only if she was convinced that she would be thrilled to attend that college. Sara decided to roll the dice and apply early to Yale. She was accepted.

Lydia - When to Specialize in Art?

Lydia is a gifted artist. Whether doing a pen and ink cartoon, a charcoal portrait or an oil on canvas landscape, Lydia clearly has a gift. During her high school years, she has won numerous artistic awards and developed a strong portfolio to accompany her college applications.

Lydia has a problem. She cannot decide if she wants to attend an art school such as The Rhode Island School of Design or The Pratt Institute, or to attend a liberal arts college with an outstanding art department.

EducationFirst! (EF) helped Lydia visit the top art schools in the country and the universities which had outstanding art departments, helped her develop her portfolio for these visits and discussed the pros and cons of both types of education. In the end, and after more visits to specific schools, Lydia decided on a compromise solution. She decided to attend Tufts University and enter the joint program with the Museum School at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.

Joe - A Wonderful Guy with no Hook

Joe is a junior at a leading boarding school, gets As and Bs, has a 1280 on his college boards, plays two varsity sports, sings in the school choir and is a very popular student. Everybody likes Joe, but Joe is worried. He worries how will he get into a "good college" if he isn't really good at something. He doesn't have a hook.

EducationFirst! (EF) met with Joe and explained that he in fact was a very attractive college candidate, and would be more attractive if he increased his SAT scores, wrote a fabulous college essay and accepted some leadership opportunities for his senior year. In June Joe agreed to be an Admissions Guide and a Dorm Prefect. During the summer he increased his Sat scores by 100 points, visited 20 colleges, and returned to school with the Common Application completed. After meeting with his college advisor and his parents, Joe decided to apply Early Decision to Vanderbilt. He was accepted in December.

David - A Talented Athlete, but How Good is He?

David is an average student, a hard worker and an outstanding lacrosse player. His father was a very good college athlete and is very supportive of David's college athletic aspirations. He is also a bit apprehensive about the college athletic recruiting process.

EducationFirst! (EF) began working with David during his junior year and immediately evaluated his athletic talents and concluded that he had the potential to have an impact on a division one lacrosse program. EF introduced David to a rigorous weight training and conditioning program, a vigorous SAT preparation program, and helped David to advocate for himself in the classroom. EF helped David produce a lacrosse profile and recommended summer lacrosse tournaments and camps to attend. EF also suggested a list of colleges to visit and prepared David and his father for these visits with admissions officers and lacrosse coaches. David received the visibility he needed with the coaches who were important to him and had substantive discussions with a number of division one coaches. David now attends Virginia and is playing lacrosse.

Mary - Unmotivated or Burned Out. A Year Off?

Mary is a very bright young lady. Her SAT I is at 1470, her SAT II scores average 760. She had all As with a few Bs. She was the editor of the school yearbook, wrote for the school newspaper and played three varsity sports. She was spending the summer following her junior year as a lifeguard on Nantucket. On August 1st, she was just beginning to think about college. Mary said she had writer's block.

EducationFirst! (EF) met with Mary twice on Nantucket and concluded that Mary was in fact burned out! She needed a break from the pressures of school and being a lifeguard seemed to be an appropriate way for her to recharge her batteries. The problem was that she was having too good a time at night and not getting enough sleep.

EF met again with Mary and motivated her to lead a more measured life, to schedule college visits in late August and to complete her Common Application. When September 1 arrived, Mary had visited 15 colleges and through this process, become rejuvenated. She wrote a dynamite essay and was excited about returning to school for her senior year. She applied early decision to Brown and was accepted. After receiving this good news, she decided to take a year off and defer her admission until the following September. She spent part of the next year teaching English in Shanghai, China.