Consultants help navigate college ‘maze’
College consultants Amy Herzog (left) and Debbie Kanter (far right) help Highland Park High School junior Julia Spathis investigate George Washington University as a college choice. | Joel Lerner~Sun-Times Media
North Shore College Consulting
CONTACT: Amy Herzog, 847-363-9201
Debbie Kanter, 847-609-6112
Updated: May 16, 2013 4:46PM
HIGHLAND PARK — Amy Herzog started looking for a college consultant when her son was only a freshman, having heard stories about long waiting lists in the Highland Park area.
“There is a huge demand and not a lot of supply,” said Herzog, a former attorney. “So I started doing some research to see if I could take him through the process on my own. It was extremely overwhelming.”
Herzog enrolled in an online college counseling program from UCLA and was soon on track toward certification.
“She’d be working on assignments and I’d be looking over her shoulder,” said Debbie Kanter, who has a background in psychology and labor and industrial relations. “Amy said, why don’t you just take the first course and try it out?”
The Highland Park friends have launched North Shore College Consulting to guide students and parents through the college preparation and application process — from building a strong record of accomplishment to strategizing the timing of applications in an era of early decision and early action.
While it’s easy to apply to lots of schools using the common college application, colleges these days want to see evidence of demonstrated interest in their school because the proportion of accepted students who enroll is a factor in their ratings and rankings.
Around junior year, clients complete a 10-page survey that allows the consultants to develop a list of about 30 colleges or universities worth investigating, taking into account career interests, geographic preferences, desire for small classes or quick trips home, and predicted ACT scores and GPAs, among other factors. They can then spend some time checking out schools online and getting a feel for the school from current students before winnowing down their choices.
Clients also can investigate their chances of getting accepted to various schools using a computer program similar to the Naviance program widely used in area high schools.
As a parent, Herzog couldn’t imagine why it was necessary to start freshman year. But both she and Kanter now see the benefits of starting in eighth grade.
“Our goal is not to stress our kids out,” said Herzog. Still, “applying to college now is so different than when we went to school,” she said, noting that colleges like to see a record of courses and pursuits related to the student’s planned area of college study.
Kanter said colleges aren’t impressed by the number of extracurricular activities. They want to see signs of focus and increased leadership over time.