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The Milton Measure

Poll Shows Most Students Happy with College Office

by on Friday, October 2nd, 2015

The college application process is often an overwhelming experience for seniors and their parents. Luckily, Milton has a highly equipped college counseling team, each member bringing with him or her a myriad of perspectives and resources to help students navigate the process. On the Milton website, the College Counseling Office claims it promises a “highly professional” and “effective approach” toward college counseling. However, some students still desire to receive additional guidance from private counseling firms.

According to a recent anonymous survey The Measure sent out to Class I students, of 56 respondents, over 70% of seniors were either “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with the College Office, and less than 30% of respondents were “neither satisfied or dissatisfied,” and “dissatisfied.”

At the end of their Class II year, Milton juniors receive their college list. All members of the college counseling team discuss the student’s character, known test scores, grades, and teacher comments, as well as analyze how students with similar credentials from Milton have fared at the respective schools in the past. After careful deliberation, the schools on a student’s tentative list (which he or she crafted with his or her college counselor) are ranked from “likely” (meaning the student has a very good chance of admission at the school) to “unlikely” (meaning that the student’s energies are best spent applying to other schools). Some students’ expectations match what their list tells them, while other students may be caught off guard. According to the Measure’s survey, 50% of seniors were “somewhat surprised” by their lists, 30% were “not surprised at all” and 20% were “very surprised.”

At this point in the process, some students and their parents begin to sweat a little. These families may choose to turn to independent college counseling services. Private college consulting is a booming industry. Admissions consultants such as TopTier, IvyCollege, and ThinkTank appeal to students looking for that additional guidance. These private services, termed IECs (independent education counsellors), are often geared towards students in larger schools; some public schools have hundreds of seniors and only a few college counselors. Milton Academy’s students benefit from having such personal and close guidance from the knowledgeable college counselors. However, some Milton students feel more comfortable with the additional advice of private consulting groups.

IECs offer a range of services, from standardized test preparations to essay tips and interview coaching. One example of a private firm is IvyCoach. Like the name suggests, IvyCoach helps students applying to Ivy League schools, as well as other highly selective institutions. The IvyCoach website is filled with info graphs and statistics reminding a reader how difficult acceptance is to these top-tier schools. According to this website, 100% of students were accepted into one of their top three schools, and 93% of students were accepted into their first choice. According to a 2008 Forbes article, IvyCoach charges $46000 for its “unlimited service,” or $950 per hour of counselling. A more recent 2014 CNBC article reports that nationwide, counselling firms generate “$400 million a year” in revenues. However, the IvyCoach website delineates that students must have reasonable expectations, and that IvyCoach is not a sure path to acceptance.

Meanwhile, another site, TopTier, promises to teach students “the secrets of getting into elite colleges,” through virtual workshops, private counseling, and (their most popular feature) a four-day application boot camp. 95% of students get into one or more of their two top choice colleges.

Gaining acceptance to college—especially selective schools—is more difficult than ever for prospective students. As acceptance rates decline, students search for the key to cracking the college process, as advertised by some IECs. There is no magic path to college acceptance. Regardless of the counseling he or she seeks, a student’s success in the college process boils down to his or her own effort and expectations.

56 seniors responded to the Measure survey, with 66.1% of respondents claiming they did not use outside professional college counselling, and 33.9% claiming that they have used outside counselling. The majority of students who claimed they used outside counseling did so because “[their] parents made [them]/ wanted [them] to,” followed by those who wanted “more individual attention.” Students who did not use outside counseling said that they did not because they were “satisfied with Milton’s college counseling office” and that outside counseling was “too expensive.”

The survey results reflect well on the how students value the quality and usefulness of the College Office as a majority of students willingly choose to use in-house counseling rather than external counseling.

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