What types of students do you counsel?
All types! Crimson College Consulting works with college-bound students from public, private and parochial schools as well as transfer students and occasionally graduate school applicants. Many of our clients are in the top quarter of their graduating class; in fact, 26% of high-achieving high school seniors hire an independent college consultant (source: Lipman Hearne/NRCCUA). However, we also counsel students who have an IEP or 504 plan to help them identify schools that can provide the appropriate level of support to ensure a successful college experience. Some of our clients are artists or musicians who are seeking help with their application portfolios or auditions. Others are hoping to be admitted to one of the US military academies. Some want to find a college that is a good choice given their religious beliefs. With a background in youth and family pastoral counseling, Ms. Lucca is also particularly sensitive when working with students who have mental health challenges, serious allergies and illnesses; those who are in recovery; those who are grieving the death of a parent or sibling; and those who are members of the LGBTQ community.
Do you help students receive scholarships?
YES! In fact, 100% of our students (including those with GPAs lower than 3.0) have been offered merit scholarships in amounts at least 8x greater than our comprehensive package fees! These merit scholarships are awarded to students by colleges based on academics, athletics, musical abilities, community service and leadership rather than a family’s financial needs. One of our areas of expertise is advising students how to highlight their individual talents in order to receive multiple scholarships.
How do you differ from other college consultants?
With over 20 years of experience in college admissions and higher education, Marie has an exceptional track record of highly successful college placements and merit scholarship awards. She holds master’s and doctorate-level academic degrees and has taught college courses in the field of identity and diversity giving her an excellent understanding of issues related to race, ethnicity, sexual identity, socio-economics, learning differences, and physical and mental health concerns. Plus, her background in youth and family pastoral counseling allows her to relate to young people and navigate family dynamics better than others. Moreover, while other consultants end their relationship after admission season, Marie stays with you to provide advice and guidance throughout the summer and during freshman year to help navigate the sometimes unsettling transition from high school to college life!
When should we get started?
The sooner, the better! In order to provide a low stress, unhurried college counseling experience, we begin working with students during the 9th grade. Some families even choose to contract with us when their student is in the 8th grade in order to take full advantage of our advice on high school course selection and resume-building activities as well as to ensure that we will be available during the critical college application period. Although some families wait to call us until their student is in the 10th or even 11th grade, it is important to note that we limit the number of students that we accept per graduation year so that we can maintain excellent customer service. Our caseload for each graduating class is generally full by the spring of 10th grade.
Do you charge for an introductory meeting?
There is no charge for an initial consultation by telephone, online or in-person (within a 10 mile radius of our office in Boxford, MA).
As a parent/guardian, how will we work together with Crimson College Consulting?
Parents may be as involved as much or as little as they would like throughout our process. We do view college planning as a family effort and encourage parents to complete several questionnaires and to meet with us at least a few times. However, as our students reach 11th and 12th grade, we find that family stress levels lessen exponentially if we are able to meet with students independently. A follow-up e-mail is sent to parents after each student meeting to keep them informed, and we also provide articles for parents about related topics.
Where do you meet with students and/or parents?
For those families who live in eastern Massachusetts, southern New Hampshire and southern Maine, we usually start with a face-to-face meeting at your home, place of business, public library or local coffee shop. After that, you will have the choice of continuing to meet in-person or to engage in e-counseling (online meetings, Facetime/Skype and e-mails). For clients living further away, ideally it would be great to meet once in person, but arrangements can be made for a complete e-counseling package. Our summer and school vacation boot camps take place in northeastern Massachusetts. Beginning in the fall of 2017, in person meetings will take place at our office in Boxford, MA.
Do you advise any students on a discounted or pro bono basis?
Yes, we are dedicated to community service and advise several financially disadvantaged and under-represented high school students each year either pro bono or on a deeply discounted basis. We also offer discounted rates for twins and multiple siblings in the same grade, parents who are members of the clergy or who are actively serving in the military, and students with a terminally ill or recently deceased parent or sibling. In addition, we run a 5-day “College Application Boot Camp” each summer for groups of rising seniors which is a less expensive option than our private college counseling packages. We also offer a limited number of scholarships for our boot camps.
How many colleges have you visited?
Marie has toured nearly 170 colleges located throughout the United States and spends several weeks each year visiting additional campuses and meeting with admissions officers, professors, coaches, and staff members. She has also toured several European universities.
How do you keep up-to-date on the changing landscape of college admissions?
Besides her annual trips to visit college campuses and meet with admissions officials, Marie also attends national conferences; takes part in monthly workshops; spends several hours each week reading educational periodicals; and belongs to a number of professional organizations that include independent college consultants, high school guidance counselors and college admissions officers. She also has an expansive network of colleagues in the fields of education, financial advising, tutoring, standardized test prep, and psychology in order to best serve her clients.
Are there licenses or certifications for independent college counselors?
There are no state licenses or certifications for independent college counselors, and sadly there are many incompetent and even unsavory consultants who scam unsuspecting families by charging exorbitant rates with “guarantees” that they can get a child into a competitive university. That is why it is so important that families choose a college consultant like Marie Lucca of Crimson College Consulting who is a member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA) and the Higher Education Consultants Association (HECA). Applicants for membership in these organizations are vetted to ensure that they have the appropriate graduate-level academic degrees, youth and family counseling experience, knowledge of hundreds of colleges, and a professional network of college admissions officers and educational colleagues. Plus, in order to maintain membership, they must adhere to strict requirements for keeping current, touring college campuses, truth in advertising, and professional integrity.
Do you guarantee admission to college?
Crimson College Consulting has had exceptional success in highly satisfactory college placements. However, since our services are advisory in nature, we do not guarantee admission to any college or university. Beware of counselors who make such claims! In addition, we do not accept payments from colleges for the referral or placement of students.
My child has a high school guidance counselor who can help with college admissions. Why do we also need an independent college consultant?
High school guidance counselors are amazing people who handle a wide range of academic, social and administrative tasks. In addition to assisting with college applications, high school counselors are also responsible for registering students for classes; monitoring grades and state-mandated test scores; attending special education meetings; dealing with behavioral issues; gathering assignments for sick students; ensuring compliance with state regulations, school board directives and administrative policies; facilitating safety and cultural inclusiveness programs; coordinating peer leadership and conflict resolution sessions; providing counseling for students who are handling stressful home lives; assisting students who are interested in joining the military or going to work directly after high school; and completing mountains of paperwork. According to the US Department of Education, the average student to guidance counselor ratio in US public schools is 491 to 1, and high school students receive an average of only 38 minutes of individual advising on college applications. In fact, according to IQS Research, only 4 in 10 high school students reported receiving ANY college-related information from their high school guidance counselor, and when they did, it was generally a lecture on school-specific procedures (e.g. how to order a high school transcript) given during an assembly of the entire senior class. Even with the best of intentions, high school guidance counselors are unable to spend much time with students for individualized college planning.
On the other hand, independent college consultants focus solely on college admissions and are experts in that area. They personalize the college planning process by working one-on-one with students and families to identify schools that are a good fit academically, socially, emotionally, creatively and financially, and they are readily accessible to their clients during the evenings, weekends, school vacation days and summers. Unlike high school guidance counselors, independent college consultants spend about 20% of their time touring colleges, meeting with admissions officers, talking with students, and exploring the farthest corners of campus environments in order to get the “vibe” – that intangible spirit that defines each campus and is impossible to determine from books, websites and social media. This comprehensive insight about hundreds of colleges means that they can present students with a wide selection of possibilities and provide vital help in weighing factors such as curriculum, affordability, and the likelihood of admission.
Moreover, a college consultant can ease the anxiety that surrounds the admissions process by providing ongoing support and advice regarding high school course selection, standardized testing, campus visits, essays, interview preparation, and financial aid. They can help students decide what extracurricular, summer, community service, and employment experiences are best suited to advance their personal and educational goals, and can assist students in narrowing their choices for college majors and potential careers. College consultants are unbiased advocates who view the admissions process holistically and try to make it as meaningful (and fun) as possible.
We know someone who is a graduate of a top-notch university and is willing to coach my child on the application process, so why should we consider hiring Crimson College Consulting?
There are many unqualified college admissions “dabblers” like teachers who take a few clients “on the side” or parents who have shepherded their own children through the application process and think that they are now capable of assisting others. Would you hire someone who isn’t an accountant but does taxes “on the side,” or seek legal advice from someone who isn’t an attorney? Do you want someone helping your child make a major life decision (and a major financial decision for you) who is not an experienced professional and merely dispenses often incorrect information “on the side,” or would you prefer to hire Marie Lucca of Crimson College Consulting, who lives and breathes college admissions all day, every day?!
Why do we need a college consultant to help with application essays? Don’t they cover this in high school English classes?
College essays are self-reflections, not research papers, book reports, or expository writing samples. For most 17-19 year olds, the college essay is the first time that they are being asked to write about their opinions, beliefs and personal values. While English teachers can proofread a student’s essay and make grammatical suggestions, they are not experts in the types of topics that colleges want/don’t want to see, nor do they have specialized counseling training in how to coach a student through the process of introspection and self-understanding.