For those of us who were searching for the right college to attend before the Internet exploded in the 1990s, the only way to begin the college search was through a guide called “Barron’s Profiles of American Colleges.” If you could afford it, you bought one and dog-eared the pages, noting all the colleges you wanted to attend, and if not, you visited your school’s guidance office or the public library to take notes on those colleges you might want to write to. The process started with writing for a college guidebook – those beautiful full color catalogs that each college sent to prospective students to sell them on their amenities and rankings. Once you narrowed down the search, you made plans to visit two or three colleges the summer between junior and senior year of high school.
The college search process has changed dramatically since then, with students afforded the opportunity to be anywhere on their tablets or phones and peruse colleges at will. Beautiful videos, student interviews, and virtual tours now give students an inside view of the colleges they are interested in long before they ever visit any. A local college placement company, College Placement Consulting, which has been in Easton for 17 years, is taking technology one step further this year and offering new software enhancements that will add an even more personal touch to college preparations and college search.
On April 1, College Placement Consulting transitioned from its owners of 17 years, Susan and Larry Patterson, of Easton, to Betsy Greaney, of Easton. The business, located at 8133 Elliott Road, Suite 102 in Easton, will remain at the same location, but will offer new online services including a new Summer SAT Prep Course with online and face-to-face instruction. For the first time since the 1970s, the College Board will be offering a summer administration of the SAT on August 26.
Betsy Greaney comments, “The new course will kick start our new offerings, including digital tools to help students get the college content they need in less time. Instead of 32 hours of classes, it is eight hours long, with smaller class size and online study videos.”
Betsy explains that the three parts to the business include the SAT Prep Course, packages for college preparation, and tutoring – the original foundation of the business since its beginnings. Larry Patterson, who developed College Placement Consulting’s own SAT Prep Course in 2004, helped to create the new hybrid of online interaction and face-to-face sessions for the new SAT Prep Course.
Founding owner Susan Patterson, who had been a teacher, principal and guidance counselor, started College Placement Consulting in 2000 to provide college placement guidance for students on the Mid-Shore. Susan had years of experience visiting schools and advising students about colleges. Over the 17 years she owned the business, she visited 400 colleges and shared her knowledge with countless students. She eventually added the tutoring and SAT Prep components of the business, utilizing her husband, Larry, who had been in education for 47 years as a teacher, school administrator, and superintendent.
Susan comments, “The SAT Prep course was the best way to introduce parents to what we did.”
Larry adds, “I remember students who didn’t want to be in the SAT Prep Courses, but who finally learned what they were deficient in and improved in that specific deficient area and got into their dream colleges.”
Betsy adds, “They were able to use the SAT test scores to help motivate the students in reaching their goals and we will continue that tradition.”
The process of planning and preparing for college includes understanding students – who they are, what they love, and boosting their confidence to recommend majors, careers and colleges proven to be successful. This involves determining a student’s personality profile and determining his or her career interests and learning styles to make the best match to a major and a college. Parents and students complete surveys independently of one another and financial planning is a part of the counseling process. Betsy adds that on average, College Placement Consulting spends 25 to 30 hours on each student’s college package.
She comments, “Forty percent of students don’t finish college or transfer from one college to another because they don’t choose wisely. I am in the throes of doing college preparation with my own children right now, so I can help students and parents because I am going through some of the same things they are going through.”
Susan adds, “Parents don’t have time today to do college planning. Student schedules are packed with athletics, activities, academics and work. Because of this, parents need to visit schools with their children, but do it systematically. For instance, there are parochial colleges, small liberal arts colleges and larger universities in each state. I recommend taking a weekend to visit one of each type of school in a state, preferably in the student’s sophomore or junior year. This helps the students narrow down the college search by determining the type of institution they prefer.”
Susan adds that the requirements at some colleges may close doors to students who have not done the proper planning ahead of time in their course selections in high school and testing preparation. In addition, she states that the emotional consequences of selecting the wrong college are as bad as the financial consequences. Students are encouraged to begin the college search and preparation process in their freshman year.
Betsy is thrilled to be introducing the next generation to this service through customized digital tools to meet the students where they are today. She states, “We are taking what Susan and Larry did on paper and in their heads and making it even more attainable for the students.”
Susan comments, “I am so confident in having Betsy take ownership of the business. This is my baby and I can now give it to her to take to the next level to be more relevant to today’s students.”
In their new retired roles, Susan and Larry are staying on to assist Betsy in the transition with Susan serving as Coordinator of College Counseling and Larry serving as Coordinator of Test Prep and Tutoring. College Placement Consulting will hire four counselors to support the new services. The business draws students from Ocean City to Kent Island, covering seven counties on the Eastern Shore.
In addition to technological changes being offered, the environment at the Center is undergoing a transformation as well, creating more modern “learning labs.” Betsy adds, “I want kids to want to be here because it boosts their confidence and is a motivating environment. We will now have all the pieces, as we are adding to an already established platform.”
Susan adds, “The Center was started by educators with an education point of view. Betsy is taking the business point of view and is building upon it and coming into the market with it.”
Betsy adds, “Just because parents give us money for this service does not guarantee a student’s success. We can motivate the student to put the work in to succeed.” She adds, “College Placement Consulting invests in customized digital tools to work with our students and leverage results. Online student accounts keep students engaged, parents informed, and allows our counselors to do some of the nagging that inevitably comes with the territory.”
College Placement Consulting’s new offerings include text notifications to remind students of meetings and important to do items; research links to simplify the college research process; images which map student GPA and Test Scores to suggested college lists; self-assessments to help students understand their passions; online Test Prep to boost SAT scores and provide instructors key information to customize face to face study sessions; worksheets, checklists and calendar alerts to keep everyone on track; and flexible online schedules so that students can self-advocate and select meeting times that synch with their busy lives.
Susan reflects, “It’s been a wonderful journey for us owning this business. Every student who walked in presented a different challenge. We experienced the joys when they got into the colleges where they wanted to go.”
College Placement Consulting serves about 50 students with its college counseling services and about 40 students with its SAT Prep Classes and tutoring services. Its offerings are affordable. Betsy reports that 46 percent of her students come from middle income families. Greaney comments, “I try and make parents see that they may be making a $1,200 investment on projected expenses of, on the average, $100,000 for one child, for four years of college. Today, services like we offer are not a luxury, but instead are a requirement for a student’s success. It’s important financially to get it right the first time.”
Meeting the students where they are in terms of face-to-face instruction, coupled with online support, allows the Center to approach the college planning process as a collaborative effort among instructors, counselors, students and their parents.
Betsy, who is taking over the business at the same age Susan was when she began the business 17 years ago, states, “It is perfect for this stage of my life. It is an opportunity to grow and develop a business like this.” She quips, “It’s also fun to work with teenagers, particularly when they are not your own! Plus, we can be that other voice in your child’s life, helping to take the arguments about college search away from family dinner tables.”
For further information, contact College Placement Consulting at 8133 Elliott Road, Suite 102 Easton, Maryland 21601 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 410 -822-4500 or visit collegeplacementconsulting.com.