College applications are infamously known among students to be a grueling and time-consuming task. Often the main source of stress for seniors, the process encompasses everything from essays to financial aid to recommendations. Many applicants seek out college consultants, certified experts on the admissions process, for one-on-one assistance with their application. In order to gain a more comprehensive understanding of college applications, the High Times interviewed Jimmy Kim, a college consultant based in Bergen County.
How long have you been a consultant? I’ve been a college consultant in Bergen County for past three years, focusing on college admissions and financial aid. I am a certified College Planning Specialist and a member of Independent Educational Consultants Association. I am also part of College Consulting Consortium, which consists of 11 college consultants around the country and we advise each other on current trends and strategies on college admissions.
What are your areas of expertise? My specialty is helping college-bound students get into a college of their choice and help them maximize their financial awards and grants. But beyond college consulting, I like to call myself an academic, career, and life coach as I possess the skill to help the youths in finding what they want to do in professional life after college.
What exactly is your role as a college consultant? Through student’s evaluation, I offer individual attention to the students to help them choose the right colleges, dependent on the location, major and costs. With my help, students and families will get opportunities to explore a wider variety of options and choices on colleges, intended majors, and careers.
What is the most important part of a college application? Through presenting who you are via activities, personal statement and supplemental essays you have the opportunity to stand out- that is assuming the student is academically capable through GPA, academic rigor and test scores.
What is one thing that students often don’t know about the way their applications are reviewed? Colleges are looking to enroll a well-rounded class, but at the same time, they are looking for students who show consistent passion in their specific interest and curiosity. They are not simply looking to bring in the students with the highest scores and GPA.
What should students look for during college visits? In addition to the open house visits, try to take advantage of all the resources that are offered to the visitors. One great example is sitting in on a classroom if you have time and experience the class atmosphere. Visit the library and try to engage with current college students and get their opinions. I would also recommend visiting the career office and talk to administrators on college recruiting. Pick up a college newspaper and browse through the campus news and articles. These are some of ways to get to know the school better from different perspectives than just from the admissions office.
The process of applying for financial aid is notorious for being confusing, what is the most effective way to request for financial aid to minimize such confusion? The best way is to learn and discuss it, especially with your parents. Have a frank conversation on how much your family can afford and which types of colleges can accommodate your intended major and financial needs. Attend general sessions on financial aids at your high school. By learning about financial aids early, families can minimize the confusion.
Why is it important for students to explore all financial aid options? Even if the student gets a merit aid, there will be extraneous costs involved such as room and board, transportation, etc. Typical financial aid awards consist of grants, work study, and loans. Unfortunately, loans need to be paid. Thus, it is important to research for many outside scholarships and grants to offset the total costs. I recommend applying to many local scholarships as they are more accessible and better chance to get than national scholarships.
Graphics: Anika Tsapatsaris