By, Pam Teel
“With over 4,500 institutions of higher education in America, the college admissions process can be quite overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be so stressful,” stated Stephanie Ackerman, an individual College Admissions Consultant and founder and President of Tomorrow Today College Consulting, located in Red Bank, NJ. Having a college consultant’s advice and support is key during this taxing time, and working with Ms. Ackerman helps students keep organized and on target throughout the process.
Students are fortunate to have many exceptional colleges to choose from, but sometimes it can be overwhelming to decide which one would be the right fit for the student. It is important to note that a student can be happy at many schools. Ms. Ackerman aids in creating a balanced list of schools that reflects the person’s interest both academically and socially and a place where a child can find themselves happy and successful. Every client receives a one-on-one guidance beginning with an initial consult with both the student and parents.
The fundamental role of an Independent Educational Consultant is to help students explore college opportunities. IECs do not get students admitted—they help students demonstrate why they deserve to be accepted at appropriately chosen schools. They help students find colleges they might not have heard of—often out of their region—and they help students put their best foot forward.
Ms. Ackerman’s services include guidance on personal statement and supplemental essays, Common and Coalition Applications, suggests edits to the extracurricular, leadership, and community activities sections, conduct mock interview sessions to prepare students for a college interview, advice on testing and prep recommendations, and create a timeline to keep students organized. When the acceptances start to roll in, she is at hand to help review options so students can make a sound decision that best suits their educational needs.
Some of the most important qualities a college looks for in a student regarding his/her high school resume are class rigor, curriculum choices, and extracurricular activities. Ms. Ackerman will review students’ accomplishments both inside and outside the classroom and help build their high school resumes by reflecting on leadership, community service, and summer experiences.
Some big trends in college admissions due to the Corona virus include the fact that students have been unable to visit most of the campuses. That means students that received acceptances to enter college in September 2020 and this year’s senior class haven’t been able to go on traditional college tours for the most part. Ms. Ackerman has guided her students on how to make the most of virtual visits. “Colleges had to pivot quickly and develop even more tours, panel discussions, social media, and marketing materials to reach students. I am hoping students will be able to see some of their top choice schools this spring,” Ms. Ackerman stated.
Another trend on how Ms. Ackerman works with students during Covid is that all of her meetings have switched to Zoom. “In the summer and fall, I would meet with students outside, but now that it is cold we have Zoom meetings. Students are used to being on-line. Many actually prefer to work this way and will adapt as I move forward to what works for each student.”
Also trending is that most schools went test optional and did not require the submission of SAT or ACT scores. Some schools are continuing test optional practices for this year and other schools are doing three-year pilot programs to see how admissions is affected. This is a welcome relief to most students. Just announced this week, the College Board will not include the essay portion with the SAT and will no longer offer SAT subject tests.
For the graduating class of 2021, selective colleges in the early decision and early action stages have seen an increase in applications. It is believed that students who do not test well are sending applications to what normally would be a reach school. Also, due to fear in these uncertain times, students are sending out more applications than in past years.
Ms. Ackerman received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Hampshire College and a Master of Arts from Brandeis University. For two years, she served as the Admissions Chair of the Parents Council for Elon University overseeing admissions initiatives with yield events, recruiting, summer welcome events and working with admissions counselors, students, and families around the country. In addition to owning her own computer training business working with children, teens, adults, and companies, she was the technology director/instructor in a private K-8 school. She also volunteered with JBJ’s Soul Kitchen Employment and Empowerment Team as a career coach.
Her professional memberships include; Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA) Associate Member, New Jersey IECA Associate Member, and the New Jersey Association of College Admissions Counselors. (NJACAC) She received her certificate as an Independent College Admissions Consultant from the University of California-San Diego, June 2019.
“I am so blessed to be able to guide students on their college admissions journey,” stated Ms. Ackerman.
Tomorrow Today College Consulting