College Application

A New Year Brings New Programs

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A new year brings new programs and services at Thrive Coaching Group. When we formed Thrive in 2020, it was a bit of a whirlwind in combining our coaching practices and focusing our efforts. So as we start 2021, we’re excited to announce some of what we’ve developed to support you as you pursue personal and professional challenges and opportunities in your life.

Conversation Cafés

What: We hold monthly, informal conversations with participants about a topic of choice. 

When: Cafes are held on a Tuesday from 12 – 12:45 pm. Topics can be found on our website

  • On Tuesday, January 26th we’ll share information about our new programs and services. 
  • On Tuesday, February 23rd, we’ll explore the topic of self-authorship, a concept that guides our coaching practice.

College Search & Planning Program

What: Our College Search & Planning Program for high school juniors simplifies the application process, keeps you focused on what matters most to YOU in your college experience, and provides the tools and information necessary to be prepared to work on your college applications.

When: Starts Sunday, February 7, 2021

Additional Details:  Participants will have the opportunity to identify their goals for their college experience, develop a list of colleges to explore, and research college costs, which will all help inform their college applications. Students have ten, 75-minute group sessions and four, 60-minute one-on-one coaching sessions.

College Application Program

What: The College Application Program is for students who will be seniors in the 2021-2022 academic year and is designed to give students the guidance and time needed to craft strong applications for their chosen colleges. 

When: Starts Monday June 21, 2021 

Additional Details: Participants will have access to tools to help organize their application content and simplify the writing process, have dedicated time to write drafts of the required essays and application components, and receive feedback on their materials. Students have ten, 75-minute group sessions and 15 total hours of one-on-one coaching and feedback sessions. 

Job Search & Application Program

What: Our Job Search and Planning Program for high school students helps you understand how to position yourself to be seen and to be competitive in the job application process, whether you are new to the job market or currently working.

When: Starts Monday, February 8, 2021

Additional Details: Participants will have the opportunity to identify their professional goals, develop application materials, and identify networking opportunities and strategies, which will all help inform their job applications. Students have ten, 75-minute group sessions and four hours of one-on-one coaching sessions.

Individual Coaching

What: Individual sessions designed with the client. You can read more about our different areas of coaching on our website, or learn more about these specific areas of coaching: Academic, College, Career, Life, Transitions, and Organizational Coaching.

Why Hire an Independent Educational Consultant

The Value of Working with an Independent Educational Consultant

Teenage Students Walking Around College Campus TogetherWhen I left the university environment to pursue my own business as an independent educational consultant, aka “college coach,” it was a move borne out of a love for helping shape future generations. I was never called to be in the classroom like my parents, sisters-in-law, or husband. But I am profoundly passionate about one-on-one conversations with others, learning what makes them tick, helping them develop new skills, and supporting them in finding opportunities to continue their learning and professional growth.

I’m particularly passionate these days about helping others navigate the path to career and college success. Students and families need help and guidance beyond the traditional school day. There are only so many hours during the day that teachers and school staff have to give. They have their own families, interests, and obligations outside of their work. And while teachers and guidance staff go above and beyond, it’s hard to sustain that level of commitment for every student.

My role as an independent educational consultant (IEC) is to serve as an extension of what the schools are able to give. I partner with students and families, helping to gather information and provide guidance in determining which college is their right investment. Academic success and college pursuits don’t happen overnight, but rather as a result of strategic goal setting, hard work, and a strong support system.

Not every IEC is the same – we each have our own areas of interest, expertise, and way of working with families. If you’re needing additional help beyond what your school guidance staff and teachers are providing, an IEC may be a good resource for you. The Independent Educational Consultant’s Association, of which I am an associate member, has some great information on selecting an IEC.

Here are a few pieces of advice as you consider working with an IEC.
  1. Consider what you need help with. Do you need help finding college options or do you just need help with college essays? Do you need help understanding how to pay for college or apply for financial aid? Do you have all the information you need, but you just need a third-party, objective voice? Or do you need all of the above? Every family is different, and so is every IEC. Considering what you need as you begin to explore prospective IECs can help you determine which person to work with, as well as which services you need and which you can forego.
  2. Get to know prospective consultants before you hire them. Ask them about their educational background, how many years they have worked directly with students, and their expertise on the things you need help with. Consider their style and approach and how this fits you. This includes how they conduct meetings, what their fee structure is, and how they communicate with you and your student.
  3. Realize that hiring an IEC does not guarantee admission to a college or university. As part of IECA, or other professional organizations, there are ethical standards that IECs annually agree to. As part of these standards, we agree to not misrepresent a student’s record, interfere with the college’s evaluation of the candidate, or make any guarantees of admission. An IECs focus is to support and guide students and families through the process.
  4. Students are the focus of the IEC. While the college search and application process is better when family members are involved, the focus of the IEC is the student. As such, you can expect the IEC to ask the student to take responsibility for what needs to be done and to put their best effort forward. It’s important that you communicate clearly with the IEC early in the process to understand how and when family members will be involved.

College may be the biggest investment a family makes. IECs can help families maximize their investment by simplifying the search and application process, providing high quality resources, and supporting them as they make the best decision for the student and the family.


Learn more about us and our coaching services: academic coaching, career coaching, life coaching, transitions coaching.

Standardized Tests and College Admission

Understanding Standardized Tests for College Admission

student stress, by cottonbro from PexelsStandardized tests have come to define US education, persisting from elementary school all the way through entrance into graduate school programs. They continue, despite evidence that these tests are flawed, and biased against students of color, English-language learners, low-income students, students with disabilities, and those who struggle with test anxiety. In the case of college admission, standardized tests have been used as indicators of how successful students will be for the academic environment of that college or university, despite evidence that high school GPA is a better predictor. 

During the spring months of 2020 when everything shut down due to COVID, so did testing.  Testing sites have either remained closed or been cancelled all summer, leaving rising high school seniors without the ability to take the SAT or ACT. The fall isn’t going to be any different. In anticipation of this, colleges and universities have been moving to test-optional for this year’s application cycle. As of August 13, 2020, FairTest – The National Center for Fair and Open Testing reported that three-fifths of all 4-year colleges and universities had moved to test-optional.

But what does test-optional really mean? Should students still try to take standardized tests? And what will happen with standardized tests once COVID goes away?

What does test-optional really mean?

Test-optional isn’t new; colleges and universities have slowly been moving to admitting students without standardized test scores. In practice, this means that students can choose whether or not to submit test scores to be considered as part of their college application. Typically, for test-optional schools, when no scores are submitted, admission officers are looking at other pieces of a student’s application. This includes their high school transcript, the rigor of the courses taken, student activities, demonstrated curiosity, and more. For these students, the college application essays tend to be even more important.

Test scores aren’t used just for admission purposes, however. Many schools use scores to determine merit awards. Schools that have gone test-optional, then, may not use the scores for admission purposes, but they might for awarding institutional scholarships. In other words, if a student doesn’t submit SAT or ACT scores, this may not impact their admission to the college or university, but it could negatively impact their prospect at receiving merit awards to attend that college.

Should students still try to take standardized tests?

The really important part of this for students and families to understand is that every college uses “test-optional” in different ways. It’s critical that as students consider a college, they speak with the admission office about how test scores, or absence of scores, is considered as part of the application review process and the merit award review process. Right now, colleges are modifying their practices, so we’re all having to double check how things are being handled.

With so many schools going test-optional, should students still pursue taking standardized tests? In general, the answer is yes. There’s so much change in what colleges are doing, I would much rather a student have the scores in case they choose a college that requires them for admission and/or merit awards.  

But taking them right now is easier said than done. Because of past cancellations, there are a lot of students backlogged trying to get into the tests. And test sites are closing because of public health considerations. So while I encourage students to pursue taking a test, I recommend it with a very healthy reminder that the test is not the most important part to getting into college or determining their future success.

Colleges and universities know it’s an extremely difficult thing to pursue right now, which is why so many have gone test-optional. So, for high school juniors and seniors, focus on doing well in your courses, and continue to challenge yourself. Find ways to explore your curiosity, and demonstrate the ability to engage in your personal and academic learning despite the challenges around you. This is what colleges will look for instead of, and beyond, test scores. It’s also what will help you be successful in college and life.

What will happen with standardized tests once COVID goes away?

There’s definitely a feeling that we’re shifting away from standardized testing in college admission, at least as a core requirement. There are advocacy and research groups leveraging their voice to work toward ensuring a more equitable and fair college admission process. The professional association I am a member of, the Independent Educational Consultants Association, recently called for all colleges and universities that have gone test-optional this year, to make it permanent and applicable to both admission and merit award decisions. The Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University has called on colleges to go further and purposefully admit fewer legacy students, while admitting more low-income students, students of color, and students who’ve worked hard to pursue their college dreams, regardless of their socioeconomic background.

If you take away just one thing, let it be this. College admission is an ever-evolving thing, and every college does things a little differently than another. Give yourself ample time to explore college options, career interests, and what will be a good fit for both the student and family. Talk with the admission officers at each school of interest to fully understand what they consider in the admission decision process and the merit award process. Gathering information and using your time wisely will help alleviate some of the stress and anxiety of the college journey. 


Learn more about us and our coaching services: academic coaching, career coaching, life coaching, transitions coaching.