We’re Here Even When You’re There: How We Use Technology In Our Consulting Practice

What I love about our industry-leading tech tools is they allow our students and their parents extra resources to benefit from on top of the personalized counseling we provide. And though we pride ourselves on the easy access we provide our families, the OWL Portal and other tech resources are open 24/7. So a quick click reveals an informative campus visit evaluation form…or SAT and ACT data on a college…or a sample essay. That frees up more time for the interpersonal relationship that lies at the core of our counseling.

Here’s a rundown of the Tech Tools our families can access:

We’re Here Even When You’re There – Our Ability to Stay Connected in the Digital Space. It’s important throughout the process with our students for us to have a personal connection even when we are not together in person. Therefore we use Zoom Video Conferencing, Google Docs, Phone Calls, Text Messaging and Email in order to provide our comprehensive services regardless of location.

OWL Portal – Online Wisdom LinkA Bank of White Papers to Supplement our Individualized Counseling
The OWL Portal allows our families access to white papers that answer so many fundamental questions related to the school and college process:

  • How do I set up a campus tour?
  • How should I ask for teacher recommendations?
  • When is the SAT/SSAT offered and what do the questions look like?
  • What do really good essays look like?

Essentially we built the portal from the ground up, pooling our team’s collective 200+ years of educational experience to write and post a set of best practices white papers to answer the fundamental questions related to the school and college search process. That way we free up even more time to help our students explore the core, personal questions related to our counseling:

  • How do I learn about myself to understand which school best fits me?
  • What can I do to plot out a master plan to best prepare my application?
  • How do I prioritize all my commitments?
  • How do I express on the page my personal narrative?

We’re proud to offer the following sections under the umbrella of the OWL Portal:

  • Elementary School Planning
  • Secondary School Planning
  • College Planning
  • Athletic Recruiting
  • International Student Planning

Note: We are aware of the current situation of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) and that this may make visiting campus in person difficult. We recommend that you make travel decisions based on the CDC travel recommendations and your best sense. If you chose not to attend, many colleges have virtual tours on their website.

Campus Visit Evaluation Forms – A Quick Snapshot to Capture First Impressions
It’s critical to record brief, fresh observations during a campus visit. So our school and college evaluation forms are accessible on your phone, and provide a simple interface with questions regarding the school’s culture and academics. Since applications often ask why a student is applying, these visit forms help shape the eventual essays. And from the 30,000-foot view, the student and his or her consultant can quickly look at the entire bank of visit forms to see which campuses stand out as 5-star fits– and which fall closer to 1 or 2 stars.

Guided Path – The College Planner that Delivers Clear Data
Over many years of working with students, we’ve come to learn that demystifying the college process reduces stress. To that end, Guided Path offers clear admissions data that helps our college-bound students understand their chances of acceptance at hundreds of colleges. The tool provides easy access to average SAT and ACT sub scores and GPAs, as well as the latest regular and Early Decision acceptance percentages. Even better, we’ve loaded the entire Fiske Guide to offer in-depth descriptions of the colleges’ cultures, as well as the myriad supplementary essay questions. If travel is an issue, it also provides virtual tours of many colleges.

Educational Plans – a Roadmap for the Journey Ahead
Following our initial consultation, we draw up a thorough Educational Plan – essentially a roadmap that outlines all the disparate elements of the school or college search process. These plans serve as a compass of sorts to direct our search for initial exploration to finally settling on the right fit. The Ed Plan contains links to the OWL Portal related to curriculum, recommendations, testing and other parts of the process.

Recent Action Item Reports and Progress Reports – Syntheses of Consultations
At the end of each college meeting, we’ll send along a summary that provides both students and parents step-by-step updates relative to visits, applications, essays, courses, testing and other items pertaining to the process.

Bottom Line – High Tech Complements Low Tech
The delightful paradox of all this state-of-the-art tech is that it frees up time for old-fashioned communication that is at the core of our work with kids. We now receive more texts and WhatsApps and phone calls and emails since much of the busy work is easily covered with these online resources.

And that harkens back to our mission – to care for each student and draw up and execute a step-by-step plan that leads to the best fit in terms of a school or college. A plan that allows for easy access to a seasoned educator who is there to offer advice. Or just listen. Since these admissions processes are really journeys of self-discovery and growth for the child.

About The Author

Don McMillan, M.A., M.F.A.