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An Important Piece of the Pre-College Talk

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

When all the talk has been about getting into college, it's essential to dedicate some conversation around emotional well-being when away at school.

Preparing students for college success goes way beyond just the books.  It begins with communication.   READ MORE 

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Marla Platt, M.B.A. is an independent college consultant based in Sudbury, MA through AchieveCoach College Consulting, providing personalized guidance to students and families throughout the college planning, search and admissions process. Marla is a professional member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association and NACAC.  Contact Marla via www.achievecoach.com.

Don't Go In Cold! The Value in Prepping for Standardized Testing

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

The College Board, publisher of the SAT, has a vested interest in pointing to successful outcomes for students who take advantage of free online SAT preparation through their affiliate, Khan Academy.  The CB’s research points to increases in SAT scores relative to PSAT results in measure with how many hours a student has spent in focused prep. 

“On the new SAT, it’s easier than ever for students to show their best work. Official SAT Practice on Khan Academy is free and personalized, and we see students achieving substantial score gains,” said in a statement from College Board President David Coleman. ^

While it’s impossible to say with certainty that students who prepared with the free CB-sponsored online tools did not also utilize other means of tutoring, the takeaway is that focused preparation, regardless of the provider, is likely to enhance performance and result in higher scores. 

With so many choices available today for both SAT and ACT preparation — books; phone apps; sample test questions found online; private or group tutoring — I firmly recommend that students avoid walking in cold on a test day.   Even some small measure of review can make all the difference between a great testing day resulting in a score that the student is happy to submit — or a day when the exam could have gone better with a little advance understanding of what to expect.

One of the intangibles of advance preparation is increased confidence on test day, an important ingredient for success, in particular, for the student who may be anxious about testing.  However, students who engage in private tutoring should not be lulled into a false sense of security.  Potential for testing success is not necessarily a function of how many hours students spend in live tutoring sessions, but rather the time and focus devoted to practice beyond the tutoring hour. Simply put, the keys to testing success rest on preparedness; familiarity; confidence -- and solid sleep the night before!

^ Jaschik, Scott. "College Board Releases Data on Khan Tutoring." Inside Higher Ed. May 9, 2017. Accessed December 22, 2017. https://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2017/05/09/college-board-releases-data-khan-tutoring.

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Marla Platt, M.B.A. is an independent college consultant based in Sudbury, MA through AchieveCoach College Consulting, providing personalized guidance to students and families throughout the college planning, search and admissions process. Marla is a professional member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association and can be reached via www.achievecoach.com

Improving Access to Education for LD Students

Friday, December 01, 2017

It may be just a matter of time before college-bound students with documented learning differences and their parents finally have a voice.

Currently, there is proposed legislation via the RISE Act (Respond, Innovate, Succeed and Empower) that aims to remove barriers to education for special needs students both when applying to college as well as once enrolled and attending classes.  The broader objectives of RISE include easing transition to college, supporting academic success, as well as improving graduation rates for students with learning differences.  

Studies indicate that LD or special needs students face continued obstacles at the time of college application as well as once they are matriculated.  High school students with 504 plans or IEPs are currently required by most colleges to update their testing in order to be eligible for campus accommodations.  Whether families attain evaluations through their child's school system or through a private source, such requirement by a college or university for updated testing brings a financial and logistical burden for many.  

Beyond documentation requirements, LD students may face challenges in seeking accommodations once on campus, an effort complicated by a lack of understanding or awareness on the part of faculty. RISE aims to develop broader awareness about learning differences and the accommodations that students may rightfully seek.  There is also focus on providing more transparent information to families about the availability of services and other resources for special needs students on individual college campuses.

As of this writing, the RISE Act is under bi-partisan review.  For more information on this progressive pending legislation and how it may affect students, please click here.

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Marla Platt, M.B.A. is an independent college consultant based in Sudbury, MA through AchieveCoach College Consulting, providing personalized guidance to students and families throughout the college planning, search and admissions process. Marla is a professional member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association and can be reached via www.achievecoach.com


Writing the College Essay

Monday, August 07, 2017


For the majority of high school students, writing college essays feels like a bit of a curse when in fact it truly presents a potential blessing-in-disguise. Why a blessing? Because the kind of writing that the admissions essay calls for,  an engaging story that broadly invites students to portray who they are and how they tick, has the potential to bring the student "to life" in what often seems like an impersonal selection process. 

If I may offer up a basic recipe for writing success, it starts with the writer choosing a topic they individually relate to.  

Picking a good story is essential -- one that the writer is energized or moved to share. Engaging essays convey a sense of individual values or personal passion about a particular interest or a unique approach to a challenge -- almost any of wide-range of possible stories that convey a strong sense of the student.  Add a scoop of personality, a dash of character, tossed with a sprinkle of personal insight, and seniors will have the winning ingredients for writing success.

It's also helpful to consider what to avoid in effective writing.  A recent article in The New York Times hits the nail on the head (oops, overused expression!), adding more when it comes to approaches writers need steer clear of.

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Marla Platt, M.B.A. is an independent college consultant based in Sudbury, MA through AchieveCoach College Consulting, providing personalized guidance to students and families throughout the college planning, search and admissions process. Marla is a professional member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association and can be reached via www.achievecoach.com


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