Why should I hire an independent educational consultant?

With over 4,000 different colleges and universities in the United States, finding the school that is the “best fit” for you and your children can be difficult — not to mention time-consuming, even for the most driven students. With their comprehensive knowledge of colleges and universities, and their commitment to providing individual attention, Independent Educational Consultants can help you and your family navigate the ever-changing world of college admissions.


At Academic Access, Joan fosters an environment that diminishes stress and encourages productivity. She strikes the perfect balance between taskmaster and cheerleader, nurturing parent and hired professional. By working one-on-one with your children, Joan instills confidence in them to succeed in the college admissions process and find a college that is right for them and you.

What does an Independent Educational Consultant do?

Take it from Joan — it’s hard to get the college admissions process just right. From your very first meeting with Joan to the day you mail in your deposit accepting admission, Joan guides you through every step of the process.


As an Independent Educational Consultant, Joan devotes herself to researching the nuances of each college and university. Spending 20% of her time visiting campuses across the United States, and meeting with admissions officers, faculty, and students, Joan applies expert first-hand knowledge of the application process at the individual level.


Specifically, Joan helps students tailor their unique skills, hobbies and interests to their academic ambitions. After crafting a list of “best fit” schools for students, Joan (and the Academic Access team) guide students in writing essays that best capture each student’s unique story and the attention of the admissions officer/school of your choice.

How is an Independent Educational Consultant different than my student’s college counselor? Does Joan work with my student’s school counselor?

School counselors are a valuable part of a student’s team. But they often have a very large case-load and other responsibilities/tasks/aspects of the job that prevent them from providing students and families with necessary individualized attention and guidance. Our team has the luxury of working with a limited number of students each year. This ensures that we know each student well, and provide individualized, customized college advice. Joan is not bound by a school schedule, which allows her to regularly visit colleges and universities, attend local and regional programs sponsored by colleges, and participate in professional development activities.

When is the best time to begin working with an Independent Educational Consultant, and how do I get started with Joan?

This is an individual process, so the best time to start varies on a student-by-student basis. We work with students as early as freshman year to discuss general college planning and receive new clients, if space is available, as late as fall of senior year. Most students begin college counseling during sophomore or junior years. This allows students plenty of time to discover what they are seeking in a college experience and the opportunity to explore a variety of options before determining a final college list.

What types of students does Academic Access work with?

Academic Access works with students with varying backgrounds, aspirations, and academic interests who apply to a wide range of undergraduate schools or programs. By taking into account a student’s needs and personality, Joan draws on her vast knowledge of the varied and diverse higher education landscape across the US to find the “best fit” school for your student.

Does Academic Access work with students outside the Philadelphia area?

Absolutely! The joy of modern technology means Joan is able to communicate with you, even when you’re not in her office. By working on Google Docs, students and Joan have access to their materials wherever in the world they may be. The Academic Access Team is proficient with Zoom and Skype, allowing Joan to reach clients from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania to Singapore.

What does Academic Access mean by “finding the right fit”?

By “best fit,” Joan believes in finding the school that best aligns with your distinctive academic and personal qualities, and will be the environment most conducive to achieving your goals: school spirit; proximity to home; intense academics; diversity; and cost. Joan takes time to look at everything each student has to offer a college, while helping students articulate their hopes and goals for life after high school.


Joan draws on her depth and breadth of first hand knowledge about hundreds of colleges and universities to help find the best fit for you.

How does Academic Access help with applications and essays?

Once you’ve decided where to apply, Joan and her team break up the application process into manageable steps so that everything arrives at the right place at the right time. While Joan guides students through the conceptual and brainstorming components of the application, members of the Academic Access team flesh out the writing, from personal statements to supplements. The way Joan sees it: if you are remodeling your bathroom, you wouldn’t ask your general contractor to do the tiles, you’d want someone who is an expert on tiles! Joan and the Academic Access team works for your family, but ultimately each student does the work. Academic Access never tells your children what to say; it helps them find their voice.

Will Academic Access ensure my student will be admitted to his/her first choice school, or make phone calls to schools on my student’s behalf?

No Independent Educational Consultant can or should guarantee acceptance. Nor does Joan have connections to any admissions officer although she meets regularly with dozens and dozens of them. Rather, Joan works ethically to provide students with the insight, guidance and resources necessary to create a student’s most compelling, authentic application. As a result, each year fully 100 percent of our students have either matriculated to a college or university or selected a gap year option in preparation for college.

How do I get started?

We encourage you to call or email us to set up an initial conversation. You can reach us at 610-590-8600 or at joan@academic-access.com. This will be a time to discuss expectations and identify priorities and goals. We look forward to speaking with you!

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