As high school seniors stand on the precipice of a new chapter in their lives, the journey ahead can be both exciting and overwhelming. The transition from the familiar halls of high school to the uncharted territory of college can be a pivotal moment, one that sets the stage for their future endeavors. Amidst the flurry of emotions, decisions, and aspirations, a guiding light emerges in the form of a college advisor. That’s where people like Neisha come in: playing a vital role in shaping tomorrow leaders! As a senior photographer, I capture the transformation between one stage of life and another, but college advisors like Neisha are some of the unsung heroes of this transition. Today, we are sharing some of Neisha’s best advice for high schoolers and their parents:
How did you get started? Why are you passionate about helping students thrive in college?
Like many college consultants, I became interested in this career after helping my oldest child go through college admissions. I couldn’t believe how competitive admission had become at name-brand universities and how much more complex the admission process was than when I went through it as a teenager. I discovered there was so much more to know than the counselors at large public high schools could impart to their students, given their large caseloads. That’s when I decided to start Clear Choice College Admissions Counseling to share what I had learned with others. I am passionate about helping high school students find colleges where they can thrive —academically and socially — and guiding them to submit the most competitive applications possible.
What is one piece of advice for an ingoing senior and their parent or guardian?
My advice for high school seniors and their parents is to keep an open mind and a positive attitude. Fixating on getting into one particular college and believing it’s the only college that will do often leads to disappointment and lost opportunities.
What do you wish people knew about the college admissions process?
I wish that parents knew that many colleges are exponentially more selective than they were 25 or 30 years ago. For example, when I graduated from high school, Vanderbilt University had an acceptance rate above 65%. Today, it accepts less than 10% of its applicants. By educating themselves on current admission statistics and understanding just how much more competitive many universities are, including our flagship universities here in Texas, parents can avoid placing unrealistic expectations on their children.
I wish that high school students knew that applying to college begins at the beginning of high school. The high school transcript is the most important part of the college application. The classes students take freshman year and the grades they make in them will lay the foundation for the their applications. They shouldn’t wait until junior year to get serious about school.
What is the purpose of a college recruiter or admissions consultant? Why should a parent or guardian consider this option?
A college admissions consultant is there to help students and their families navigate the college admission process. This can include everything from helping them discover what they want to study in college, to exploring college options, to counseling them on how to prepare for specific colleges and majors, to guiding them through the creation and submission of college applications. Independent college consultants have time to follow college admission trends and become familiar with a range of colleges through personal visits — something most high school counselors, especially at large public high schools, typically don’t have the capacity to do.
What does a typical day consist of in your field?
A day in my life depends on the time of year. In the summer and early fall, I spend my mornings reading student essays and other components of my students’ college applications and my afternoons meeting with my rising seniors to relay my feedback. In the fall and winter, I spend most of my time building college lists for my juniors and meeting with my underclassmen to give them guidance on high school course selection, standardized testing, major selection and standardized testing. I continue to meet with students through the spring, but I also utilize that season to visit colleges around the country. Regardless of the season, I start every workday by reading Inside Higher Ed, The New York Times, and other publications that follow college admission trends. I also routinely attend industry webinars, workshops and conferences to network with other consultants around the country and stay abreast of all things college admissions.
What are some closing thoughts for high schoolers and their parents?
My closing thought for high schoolers and their parents is to recognize that there are many paths to success in life. In his NYT bestseller, Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be, author Frank Bruni makes the well-researched case that post-college success has more to do with how students spend their time in college than where they get their education. By remembering that, everyone can take a deep breath and relax.
Neisha Frank founded Clear Choice College Admissions Counseling in 2019 to help students and families in the Greater Austin/Round Rock area find clarity and peace of mind as they prepare for, select and apply to colleges. Since then, she has helped more than 100 students with various components of the college admissions process. She holds a Bachelor of Journalism from the University of Texas at Austin, a certificate of Independent Educational Consulting from the University of California at Irvine, and is a member of the Higher Education Consultants Association and the National Association for College Admission Counseling. She also has gone through the college admission process with her own children, which impressed upon her just how competitive and complicated the experience has become. When Neisha is not working one-on-one with high school students, she is visiting colleges and learning about trends in college admissions.