Freshman and Sophomore Package


Joan and her team counsel students at all levels of their high school education. In the freshman and sophomore package, students receive a review of their current academic record, advice on future course selection, and recommendations on summer opportunities. In addition to these services, students also can expect to receive testing plan recommendations, discussions on how to make high school a successful endeavor, as well as suggestions for extra-curricular involvement based on students’ passions and curiosities.

Junior and Senior Year


Academic Access typically begins its relationship with students during the sophomore or junior year of high school with an initial two-hour meeting with the student and parents. One hour is devoted to students to help them better identify what they want from college and which colleges best fit their needs, interests, and qualifications. The second hour we ask parents to join our conversation as we map out the upcoming process and clarify goals. Our team works with students to promote their strategies as they are individually guided through each step of the college admissions process.

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College counseling services may include:


  • Individualized college search binder and application organizer
  • Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (personality test) and Strong Interest Inventory (career test)
  • Selecting senior year curriculum
  • Recommending a timeline for SAT, SAT Subject Tests, and ACT

Initial Process

  • Reviewing transcripts and evaluating strengths of high school curriculum
  • In-depth interviewing to assess student’s interests, strengths, goals, and needs, and parents’ insights, requirements, and financial parameters
  • Regularly communicating with student and parents throughout the application process
  • Developing a list of schools that match the characteristics identified by the family
  • Establishing a timetable to meet the requirements of identified schools

Application Process

  • Narrowing the scope of the college search based on student achievement, test scores, evolving interests, and refinement of criteria
  • Guiding students through the completion of college applications
  • Helping choose essay topics and outline essays; proofreading student-prepared
  • Building the resume through customized worksheets
  • Discussing application options; early action, early decision, regular, or rolling
  • Explaining Common Application procedures and format
  • Assisting in correspondence with college offices and special-interest faculty
  • Preparing for effective college visits and interviews
  • Managing Teacher and Counselor Recommendation packets
  • Guiding students through the completion of college applications
  • Reviewing and editing student-prepared applications


  • Providing advice on the final decision once acceptance letters have been received
  • Preparing students and families for what to expect during the first year of college

Athletic Recruiting


Even if you don’t end up winning the Heisman Trophy, there could still be athletic scholarships or places on varsity teams out there for you. The Academic Access team will assist with Division I, II, and III college recruiting and scholarships. At Academic Access, our team members can help you identify the right schools for your sport and show you how to assemble a shining athletic portfolio. The portfolio will include letters of recommendation, newspaper articles, and DVDs or tapes showing you in action. We help students gain a better understanding of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). Our team will focus on the challenges that many student-athletes and their parents face when applying to college.

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We help students and parents to:

  • Prepare an athletic resume to supply collegiate coaches with necessary information about the student-athlete
  • Develop a realistic idea of an individual student’s athletic ability with respect to the recruiting process and the expectations of college coaches
  • Determine the level of interest that collegiate coaches may have for a particular student-athlete
  • Focus on the student beyond his or her role as a college athlete
  • Acknowledge the importance of educational and academic achievement
  • Avoid “senioritis” once the correct college choice is made

Postgraduates / Gap Year / Transfer


Taking a gap year is common practice in Europe. Rather than going straight to college, students may choose to take a year off to immerse themselves in a different culture, explore specific interests, or volunteer to help others. It is becoming more common for students to take time off before embarking on their journey through college. At Academic Access, we offer advice on postgraduate years, gap years, and transferring to another college or university.

Postgraduate Year:
Essentially, a postgraduate, or “PG,” is a student who chooses to attend a different high school for a year before making the transition to a collegiate atmosphere. The Academic Access team offers advice on postgraduate years for many preparatory schools around the area and around the world. For some students, the traditional path to college is not always feasible. Often, these students are athletically inclined and participate in varsity-level athletics at their new high school. Postgraduate years can be extremely beneficial for students who aren’t quite ready to make the transition to college.

Gap Year:
Some gap year students have already been admitted to the college or university of their choice. These students want the opportunity to see the world or commit to a serious project before heading off to college. Other students take gap years after graduating
high school to find out who they really are. These students have not yet been admitted to college. Gap years are more common in European countries than in the United States, but several colleges have instituted a gap-year program within the last several years. At Academic Access, our team members have had a wide variety of experiences in college and in the real world. Our team can advise students on when and whether to take a gap year, as well as on the variety of options available.

Transfer Students:
It is not uncommon for students to arrive at a particular college and realize that it isn’t a good institutional fit for them. Regardless of the reason, whether it be the social atmosphere, the academic work, or the opportunities available to the student somewhere else, transfer students should not feel like they are alone or isolated in the process. To be sure, transferring to a different college can be a nerve-wracking experience. At Academic Access, our team members can help students to better understand their options with regard to transferring to a different university.

SAT, SAT Subject Tests, ACT, PSAT, One-on-One


Academic Access provides a team of specialists that works with students to prepare for the PSAT/SAT/ACT/SAT Subject Tests. Our team will help determine which standardized test is the right one for the student as well as develop a timetable for the Junior and Senior years’ testing schedule. One-on-one tutoring provides a customized study plan based on the student’s academic profile. Learn the difference between the SATs and ACTs: dates administered and best times to register; test purpose, structure, and content; test scoring and penalties for wrong answers.

Essay Brainstorming, Outlining, and Editing


At Academic Access, we know that it can be a daunting challenge to write an essay that stands apart from all the rest and speaks with authenticity concerning an applicant’s unique qualities and assets. Our essay specialists lead students through a process of critical self-reflection about themselves, their values, and their life experiences. Our team members mentor each student so that they can find and articulate his or her individual voice and passion. The essay specialists help enable students to utilize their essays in college admissions interviews.

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Work with our essay specialists using the Ten Commandments of Essay Writing:

  1. Show, not tell
  2. Be specific
  3. Capture the reader’s interest
  4. Make it personal
  5. Remember your English teacher
  6. Answer the question
  7. Be concise
  8. Show passion and do not be afraid to disclose failure
  9. Be consistent
  10. Be yourself



Face-to-face interviews with college admissions officers are excellent opportunities for students to set themselves apart from the rest of the pack. However, college interviewing is a tricky task that can take practice. At Academic Access, our team members have been through that process already. They know the “dos and don’ts” of college interviews. There is no predicting the kind of interviewer you will face. Some interviewers ask direct questions, while others will let the individual student take the initiative in the conversation. For this very reason, Academic Access team members work with students in one-on-one mock sessions. We also prepare students for interactive interviews with small groups and scholarship committees. Many students may be competing as finalists for a scholarship program, and a variety of interviewing experiences can build confidence before the student enters the final process.