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  College Directions, LLC
  1010 Northern Blvd.
  Suite 208
  Great Neck, NY 11021

  t: (516) 336-2558

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The Mission of College Directions, LLC

By Doretta Katzter Goldberg, Esq.

The idea of beginning a college advising firm grew out of my experiences as a parent, assisting my own children through their respective college searches, as well as from spending almost twenty years conducting interviews and serving as area chairperson for the Brown Alumni Schools Committee, the liaison between the university’s Admission Office and applicants from local high schools.

It was not a surprise to me that finding a school was stressful; I had lived through the experience twice myself, first applying to college and then later to law school. I remembered the anxiety of writing essays, taking tests, going to interviews and waiting for the arrival of the fateful “fat” envelope. What I was unprepared for, however, was the almost universal obsession that getting into the “best” college has become. We have allowed it to overtake our children’s’ lives, to put them and ourselves through predetermined paces scripted by others, to change the entire experience of adolescence from a time of exploration and creativity to one of intense pressure to fit a formulized vision of a “successful” student.

As an admissions representative I met many students, parents, and high school guidance counselors who shared my distress. Students did their best to appear eager and engaged but many admitted wondering whether there might be an alternative to the frenzied pace of college preparations they felt pressured to adopt. Guidance counselors were frustrated at being unable to teach students (and sometimes their parents) to distinguish between the “best” school and the “right” school. Parents spoke to me about feeling ill equipped to bear the burden that applying to college has become. Even the most highly educated among them thought that the process itself and the options available to students had changed so much in a generation that they lacked sufficient information to give their children appropriate advice and assistance. Though some had employed the services of private college counselors, many expressed dissatisfaction on some level with the people they had hired, usually commenting on cookie cutter recommendations, inadequate experience or credentials, or a failure by the counselor to develop a rapport with their child. Most significantly, all found ample advice on how to play the admissions “game.” Not one heard any suggestions that it might be within his or her power to start changing the rules.

Despite these circumstances, I have found signs that the pendulum is slowly swinging in the opposite direction. Most of the good news is actually coming from the colleges themselves. Some schools have begun using alternative admissions criteria that, at a student’s option, need not include SAT scores. Not long ago I sat on a panel with an Admissions Officer from an Ivy League school who expressed dismay that studying for and taking SATs has become many students’ primary extra-curricular activity. I have heard other Admissions representatives say that their goal is a well-rounded student body, not necessarily unnaturally well-rounded students. Recent news reports tell of competitive colleges at which administrators, concerned with the psychological strains upon students, have begun to encourage them to use college as a time to follow their passions, to get off the resume building treadmill, to engage in learning for its own sake, not simply as a passport to future success. The next logical step, one would hope, would be for these same administrators to recognize the value of seeking prospective students who are already oriented in this direction.

With the thought that the time was ripe for a change, I reached the conclusion that I was particularly well suited to step into the vanguard. My experiences as an applicant, a parent and an admissions representative have provided me a unique perspective of both the existing landscape and the possibilities for the future. Two decades as a practicing attorney and several years as a student in public relations, have given me the skills and knowledge to help people plan and organize their affairs and teach them how to best present themselves. This is precisely what students must do to conduct their college searches in a sensible and orderly fashion and to put together applications that will allow them to shine. More importantly, however, my ultimate purpose in founding College Directions, LLC was to change the focus of the high school experience. If I am successful, the students I work with will not ask what they must do to get into the “best” college. They will concern themselves instead with discovering their interests and talents, with becoming the best people they can be. When they have worked towards achieving these goals, finding the right college will be an adventure, not an ordeal. I look forward to guiding them on this type of quest.

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