大学申请真的需要私人顾问吗?

大学申请真的需要私人顾问吗?
UCLA — Counseling the College Bound Student 课笔记

刚开学两星期,老师抛出热门话题: 高中生究竟需不需要花钱买私人大学申请咨询服务?引起全班30个学生踊跃参与。老师介绍我们读的文章,公正全面地讨论利弊,启发我想到了许多以前没想过的问题,所以推荐给大家:http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ruth-starkman/private-college-admissions-consulting_b_3625632.html。

要想全面回答这个问题,必须先了解高中生成功申请大学之前要做到的5步:

Students who want to go to college must successfully navigate 5 processes:

(一) Preparation (K to 12th Grade)

– Develop motivation to succeed academically

– Develop good study habits

– Take appropriate college preparation courses in high school

– Develop non academic talents and/or interests

– Understand the steps and timelines of applying to college

(二) Search (9th to 11th Grade)

– Developing an idea of the type of college that they are looking for (both academically and socially)

– Visiting some local colleges

– Attending college fairs

– Talking to college representatives

– Utilizing technology to learn about all college options across the globe

(三) Application (12th Grade)

– Being aware of what will be asked on the application (both academic and non academic information)

– Allowing adequate time to complete all steps of the process (application, essay, letters of

– MEET DEADLINES

(四) Admission (12th Grade)

– Evaluating and comparing offers of admission

– Evaluating and comparing financial aid offers

– Know how to proceed if not admitted to first choice college

– Know how to proceed if not admitted to any colleges

– Select the most appropriate college to attend

– Meet deadline (and any required paperwork) to accept offer of admission

(五) Enrollment (12th Grade)

– Successfully completing 12th grade year

– Submitting any required additional high school documents to selected college of attendance

– Confirming additional student services (i.e. housing) at selected college of attendance

– Taking any needed/required college placement tests

– Attend orientation

结合课本 (Fundamentals of College Admission Counseling, 3rd Edition) 和老师列的大纲,不难发现,如果孩子从小养成了积极的学习习惯,做事有条理,了解自己的优点/缺点/特点,写作表达能力又强的话,有公立学校咨询员画龙点睛的点拨就足够了,他/她完全可以独立完成大学的搜索和申请。公立学校咨询员在校园里工作,直接负责课表的安排,还要为学生写推荐信,所以对大学申请的帮助处于得天独厚的位置。

可如果孩子在学习上比较被动,学习习惯不好,做事没有条理,写作表达能力欠缺,而父母又没有足够的时间和精力和他/她一起去学习和完成申请的过程,考虑私人升学顾问(private admissions consultant)服务就有道理了。首先,公立学校咨询员和学生的比例基本是1:500,而且很多调查报道,她/他们在学校近80%的时间花在和大学申请毫无关系的职责上,能做到的是一些集体活动,比如九年级新生可以在电脑上做人格特质量表,根据结果列出可能符合的大学专业和职业;组织当地大学到校园办 College Night,介绍课程及校园生活等信息; 可以一对一帮高中生寻找适合自己能力和个性的专业及学校的时间很难安排。私人升学顾问一般每年只收30位以内的学生,而且所有工作时间都投入到大学申请上,为每位学生提供的一对一服务是公立员工做不到的。

Huffingtonpost 文中提到,美国私人升学咨询服务发展迅速,2013年秋季入学的大学生中, 约26% 雇佣了私人升学顾问 ,比10年前翻了3倍。 虽然我没见到湾区高中的数据,但就学校的观察,亚裔学生雇佣私人升学顾问的比例远远超过26%。原因有几个:首先,矽谷技术移民多,很多父母到20多到30多才接触美国的教育和文化系统,对基础教育到本科的衔接并不了解。再加上工作压力大,没有很多闲暇时间去和孩子一起摸索升学申请过程。在经济允许的条件下,宁可花钱买“心安”,让专业人士帮孩子理清道路。

大学申请不止是简单的填表。如果私人升学顾问接受过系统的培训,象UCLA College Counseling Certificate Program,根据以上总结的大纲,从培养孩子的学习习惯,找到课外活动的兴趣,根据量表结果提供大学,专业和职业选择的推荐,到标准考试的准备等,帮孩子全面规划,那她/他们在这个转折阶段的服务是很有效的。

但课本和老师强调,在挑选升学顾问机构时,一定考虑以下因素:

1. 私人顾问自己毕业的学校并不代表她/他们咨询服务的水平。

请务必查清顾问有无“大学升学咨询师”资格认证,所在机构是否 NACAC (National Association for College Admission Counseling) 成员。如果服务不专业,至少可以投诉有门。

2. 收费最高的不一定提供最佳服务。

一位欧裔升学顾问在湾区某知名机构工作6年后离开,自己提供私人服务。他诚恳地告诉我,在那家机构做不下去的原因是看不惯他们对家长漫天开价,良心上过不去。他现在提供同样的咨询服务,但只收大机构25%的价格,做得心安理得。大机构用铺天盖地的广告去开拓市场,其实这些费用最终都来自父母交的学费,和他们提供的咨询服务质量并不成正比。

3. 私人顾问是否以人为本,而不是拿固定模具把孩子往里塞。

成绩等数据是死的,可同样的成绩下,每位孩子的情况和需求各不相同。有位家长告诉我,一位升学顾问第一眼看到儿子 GPA 3.2就立刻宣布,“你这成绩进UC是不可能的!”我工作过的另一位高中生,GPA 也是 3.2,但对商业操作能力突出,曾和校队拿过洲冠,而且人际交流能力极强,今年被UIUC顺利录取。升学顾问的很大职责是帮孩子在申请过程中扬长避短,怎么能凭成绩就把门封上呢?

4. 请调整对升学顾问的期待值。

升学顾问和房地产经纪或会计师不一样,后者的服务很全面,交了费用,她/他们会负责打理所有文件。但升学顾问只是提供指导,表格还需要学生亲自来填,Self Statement 需要孩子亲自来写。顾问可以提供建议怎样修改可以让文章更突出,但不能帮她/他们改。课外活动可以推荐,标准考试可以提供准备课服务,但做成,考成什么水平靠孩子自己。学校成绩等除了可以建议学习方法外也是超出顾问可以控制的范围。所以,对升学顾问辅导的结果要有客观的期待。

其它更明显的,比如弄虚作假等,就不用提了。就算是给孩子个垫脚石,把她/他推入一个和自己能力,性格等不相称的大学,他/她能顺利完成学业吗?美国各大学的毕业率都列在这个网站上 (http://collegecompletion.chronicle.com/),供各位家长做参考。进入大学不是终点,而是孩子另一个阶段的起点。送进了不适合自己的大学再中途退出,岂不是更浪费时间,而且心理上也是挫折。

美国的高等教育在全世界引人注目,排行前45的高校里有30所在这里。它最大的特点是量大:全国有4495所大学(不包括远程教育机构),其中本科2774所。很多优秀的大学我们这些移民父母根本没听说过。举个例子:以下是美国上25个诺贝尔化学奖得主本科时就读的大学,我们耳熟的不足半:

Augsburg College

Berea College

Brigham Young University

City College of New York

Dartmouth College

Grinnell College

GIT

Harvard University

Hope College

McGill University

MIT

Ohio Wesleyan University

Rice University

Rollins College, Florida

Stanford

UC Riverside

University of Dayton, Ohio

University of Florida

University of MA

University of Nebraska

Washington State University

优秀的升学顾问应该对北美(包括加拿大)(甚至欧洲)多数大学有一定了解,对孩子有了解,才能找到两者之间最佳的匹配,而不是只认父母熟识的名校,不顾孩子的兴趣和能力,一律按那个要求规划。

附上文章,供父母参考:

Private College Admissions Consultants: Does Your Child Need One?

Ruth Starkman

Academic teaching staff, Stanford University

Posted: 07/22/2013 1:42 pm http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ruth-starkman/private-college-admissions-consulting_b_3625632.html

Private College Admissions Consulting is a booming industry that offers to help families navigate the often-confusing and stressful process of college admissions. Although many public universities provide application seminars, post application tips on their websites and distribute guidelines to high school counselors, the demand for applications advice often exceeds the capacities of most public institutions. Indeed, public high schools in the United States employ an average of one staff member per 500 students. In 2013, 26 percent of all college applicants — three times as many as in 2003, hired a “private admissions consultant” or an “independent educational consultant (IEC)” to assist with their college applications.

Fee-based college advice has long been available, but where such services once catered to students with difficult cases, an uneven transcript or learning differences, now they are becoming mainstream.

Responding to public demands for greater insight and access to college, private admissions consultants offer a range of services from test preparation and college selection, to essay and interview coaching and application packaging. Some consultant businesses provide a bevy of courses and coaches. Others merely focus on the application and are small businesses owned by individuals, who may have worked in counseling, admissions or for a university in the past. Still others are new to the profession and have an interest in working with teenagers and families. Their backgrounds and experiences vary greatly from education to marketing to athletics and the arts, as do their services.

Does your high school student need a private admissions consultant? It depends on your situation. Can you afford one? It depends on the service, which can range from about $1000 to tens of thousands of dollars.

The first step might be to consult the professional organizations that offer affiliation: The Higher Education Consultants Association (HECA), the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA) and the National Association for College Admissions Counseling (NACAC), or a NACAC regional affiliate. All of these associations post a series of requirements and ethical standards for private consultants.

It might be helpful to understand who your consultant is and what kind of preparation he or she has. As the market for independent consultants becomes increasingly crowded, many choose to enhance their knowledge of the admissions process as well as their ability to promote their own businesses through new certification programs, which are available through many university continuing studies programs. For example, The University of California at Berkeley, Extension has two different tracks for certification. The Certificate Program in College Admissions and Career Planning is open to candidates with a Bachelors degree and requires five courses for a total of 15 semester units (216 hours of instruction). The cost is about $4000. The Professional Program in College Admission Counseling is designed for professional counselors to improve their own marketing abilities and requires either a Pupil Personnel Services (PPS) credential or master’s degree in counseling. In this program counselors take two required courses for a total of eight semester units (120 hours of instruction) and pay about $2,000 (not including course materials or one-time program registration fee.

In addition to attending certification courses, some private admissions consultants have worked as admissions readers at universities. Many of their brochures will advertise that they are college application readers and can help with application writing. In most cases, this means they are temporary “external readers” hired for application season. That is, during every admissions reading period from December to February, most large universities hire temporary readers to help sort the great pile of applications. Much of the consultants’ “inside knowledge” of the selection process is publicly available as well.

Here are a few key considerations in deciding to hire a private admissions consultant:

1) Your child. What are your child’s needs, strengths and hopes? Does your child have an idea where he or she would be comfortable in higher education and what learning environment will be best?

2) Who is best suited to help your child with the application process? It may even be — surprise — you, the parent or a family member. Professional guidance neither guarantees success nor is always warranted.

3) If you feel overwhelmed by the process, or if your child has special concerns, it might help to see an admissions specialist. In this case, pick a consultant with organizational affiliations, accreditation, good recommendations and clear explanations of their services and associated costs.

4) Ethical consultants will not claim to possess some special influence or “pull” with college admissions professionals. Their assistance in application writing remains confined to stylistic, organizational suggestions, never to writing anything for the student. Most importantly, they encourage your child to write in his or her own voice — not according to some imaginary formula for acceptance.

A number of highly critical articles, studies and books have responded to the private admissions consultant industry. One article even decries a “New Snake-Oil Industry,” which it claims is “increasingly propelled by greed, it preys on the fear of families, especially parents. It’s the private, for-profit college admissions consulting industry.”

In Crazy U: One Dad’s Crash Course in Getting His Kid into College writer Andrew Ferguson relates the anxieties of the other parents he meets who fearfully admit to him: “I don’t think we have a choice” but to hire a consultant. He also doubts the self-marketing approach of one admissions consultant, especially for his shy child. Her response: “That’s why it’s so important to start early.” (24)

However, Joan K. Rynearson, president of Higher Education Consultants Association, takes on some popular perceptions of her profession:

“The myth that independent educational consultants opportunistically prey on the fears of families is simply untrue. While a few outliers may employ such tactics, the vast majority work hard to alleviate stress by providing accurate information and guidance.”

In “Why Colleges Should Thank Private Admissions Counselors,” Katherine Cohen of IvyWise describes the role of independent consultants positively:

“Admission to the most selective colleges is based on a varied matrix of factors, and this is often a difficult thing for families to understand.”

Working with some students as early as 10th grade, consultants, like those at IvyWise, help students build their portfolios and identities in the “soft factors” like interests and activities, in efforts to aid the admissions process.

Parents I’ve spoken with have differing views on the necessity of a private admissions consultant. One father in my son’s USA Track and Field club has taken on the job of college counselor himself. After much research on the web and discussion with his son, he narrowed down the Division II schools with track programs for a mathematically inclined, artistic student, who wants to avoid urban schools and stay on the west coast. He and his son are in the process of applying to 11 selected institutions of higher education.

What about the application essays? More specifically, what about the “coherent message” and “packaging” that consultants offer?

He says he’s found enough examples and advice on the web to get a draft going and has asked family members and friends with writing backgrounds to check the style and organization. He’s convinced: Consultants are unnecessary luxuries.

In contrast, another parent was thrilled at having hired a college consultant to help her daughter apply for college. Alla Gershberg, a San Francisco real estate agent, put it this way to me. “Look, I help people buy and sell houses for a living. It’s incredibly complicated to know the market, the product involved and how to position oneself as a buyer. People can do it themselves, but they are often much safer and more successful with the help of a professional.” Indeed, many parents have little experience with college admissions or selection and experience the same kind of relief hiring a counselor. Ms. Gershberg feels: “$2500 was a small price to pay for peace of mind.”

Can every student and parent gain such a peace of mind? Clearly, shedding light on the admissions process helps students and their families. But what can you do if you can’t afford a consultant? There are many helpful websites to check out. Here are a few to start.

http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/section/1/49/
http://www.usnews.com/education/best-colleges/applying
http://admissions.yale.edu/advice-putting-together-your-application
http://admissions.berkeley.edu/selectsstudents
http://collegeapps.about.com/od/essays/a/essay_tips.htm
http://thechoice.blogs.nytimes.com/

Share the joy
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

发表评论