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Vested Academics®

College Planning

From admissions consulting to financial aid support, Vested Academics offers a variety of professional college planning services to students, parents, and families.

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College Planning Services

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

COLLEGE SEARCHES What’s a college search? Is it necessary?

Performed by a professional college consultant, a college search is a personalized service that uses the information derived from one-on-one interviews, family meetings, and independent research to generate a list of potential undergraduate or graduate schools for a given student. With more than 5,000 colleges and universities in the United States, the American higher education marketplace is indeed overwhelming. Having an advocate in your corner can reduce the likelihood that your child will enroll in an unsuitable school, overpay for a degree, or graduate with an excessive amount of student loan debt.

I’m having a hard time getting my child involved in the college search process. Is this normal?

In our experience, yes, this is completely normal. Whether anxious about their future or feeling pressured to make what could be their first major decision, the average teenager usually has a hard time talking to a parent about college plans, never mind generating a practical list of target schools or weighing the potential financial risks associated with each choice. Our professional college consultants simplify the entire college search process. Working closely with families and one-on-one with students, we get to the heart of the matter quickly, mediating concerns, encouraging cooperation, and finding the right college matches for your child.

Deciding on the right college for our child is an important family decision. Will my consultant meet with our entire family?

Yes, we will. In fact, our consultants value family meetings. Having roundtable discussions allows our consultants to tactfully address the concerns that often arise during separate meetings with parents or one-on-one meetings with students. Although we’re here to help facilitate the college search process, we recognize that it’s a family decision. You can rest assured knowing that our college consultants maintain high standards of professionalism and respect at all times.

Do consultants meet with parents and students separately?

Yes, in addition to working with families, our professional college consultants also meet with parents and students separately.

My child knows exactly where they want to go to college. Should I still do a college search?

The world of college admissions is full of surprises. That’s why it’s important to create a balanced list of and apply to both target schools and safety schools.

Can I pay for a college search by the hour or do I have to purchase a College Search Package?

Our college consultants spend hours conducting independent research, contacting admissions officers, discussing unique situations with our entire consulting team, and connecting with families, parents, and students via phone, email, and video conference. Invested in thoroughness and quality, we only offer our college search service in the form of our College Search Package.

ADMISSIONS CONSULTING My child isn’t going to a top-tier school. Why should I work with a college consultant?

Just as it doesn’t make sense to buy a home without having it inspected, applying to a college without knowing what you’re getting into is a risky move. Our college consultants spend hours researching schools and comparing tuition costs, matching each client with the best academic and financial fit for their unique situation.

Do you work with high school freshmen?

Yes, our college consultants work with high school freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors. We also provide early college planning services to junior high students (e.g., grades 6, 7, and 8).

What are the benefits of working with a college consultant throughout all four years of high school?

High school is a challenging time. From homework to standardized tests, extracurricular activities to sports, students are pulled in many different directions. Sometimes, it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture. Our college consultants check in with families quarterly, helping students stay on track academically and maintain balanced extracurricular schedules. Patient and professional, our consultants recommend internships and volunteer activities, providing low-pressure opportunities for students to begin thinking and discussing potential career paths. Whether anxious, aloof, or extremely driven, our clients receive the one-on-one attention they need to have productive high school and undergraduate educations.

I’m worried my child isn’t ready for college. What should I do?

Sending a high school graduate to college before they’re ready can have disastrous consequences. Our college consultants can help students and families figure out if college is the right move. We also provide gap year planning and career counseling services, should a student decide to take some time off before making their next move.

Do you help students plan gap years?

Yes, we do. Our college consultants help students plan productive gap years, filled with internships, travel, volunteer programs, and other resume-building experiences.

Do you help high school students find professional vocational programs, too?

Yes, absolutely! Our college consultants can assist clients with finding and applying to professional vocational programs.

APPLICATION SUPPORTWhat’s Application Support? What does it mean?

Application support is a term we use to describe the type of guidance we provide to students who are preparing college applications. Our consultants help students develop an application strategy, prepare and obtain application materials (e.g., transcripts, letters of recommendation, and extracurricular portfolios), and critique application essays and personal statements.

Do you help students with the Common Application?

Yes, we do! In working one-on-one with students via video conference, our college consultants can help students submit their electronic applications online, live and in real time.

I’m applying to a school that doesn’t use the Common Application. Can you help me with that, too?

Yes, our consultants help students prepare traditional paper applications and other electronic applications, too.

WRITING COACHINGWhat’s the difference between writing coaching and application support?

Writing coaching refers to the one-on-one help students receive when drafting their college essays and personal statements. Application support, however, refers to the guidance students receive when preparing their college applications for submission.

I know I need a personal statement for my college application. What is it, and why is it so important?

In this context, a personal statement is a short piece of writing that often conveys a student’s academic aspirations, career goals, and reasons for wanting to attend a given college or university. College recruiters and admissions officers use personal statements to evaluate a variety of criteria, including academic ability, communication skills, and creative thinking. If the school you’re applying to has a competitive reputation, you can bet the ranch that a dull personal statement will count against you. The good news is that you don’t have to write it on the spot. So, start early, take your time, and produce a quality piece.

How qualified are your writing coaches?

At Vested Academics, we recognize that great writing coaches are more than just sharp minds. It takes the perfect combination of patience, professionalism, and creativity to make connections and build confidence. That’s why our high selection standards shine through each of our writing coaches. A Vested Academics writing coach must:

  • be a published writer or author
  • have professional experience teaching or tutoring at the high school and undergraduate levels
  • provide exceptional personal references
  • demonstrate excellent communication and creative problem-solving skills

Can I purchase one session with a writing tutor? When would this be a good idea?

Yes, you can. A single session is a good option for students who are already STRONG WRITERS and INDEPENDENT LEARNERS. In this situation, a student can expect to walk away with useful editorial suggestions for either their personal statements or scholarship application materials.

Once the sixty-minute session is over, however, the student WILL NOT RECEIVE ANY ADDITIONAL FEEDBACK from our writing coaches. If you have any questions about our single writing coaching sessions, we recommend that you contact our customer support team before making your purchase.

Can my writing tutor edit my writing?

Our writing coache's can point out grammatical errors. They’ve also got the green light to make style suggestions, too. Don’t worry, your in good hands!

Can you guarantee that my personal statement will get me into the college of my choice?

No, and we never will. That would be dishonest and unethical. Any writing tutor or coach who claims otherwise should be approached with caution.

Can I work with one of your writing coaches by the hour?

Yes, absolutely! Our writing coaching service can be purchased by the hour. It’s important to note, however, that our hourly writing coaching does not include additional support via phone or email. This type of support is included in our College Planning Packages.

FINANCIAL AID CONSULTINGWhat’s the difference between a financial aid consultant and a financial planner?

A professional financial aid consultant provides guidance that can help you increase your chances of receiving more federal financial aid and non-federal aid, lower your out-of-pocket expenses, evaluate private and federal student loan opportunities, and compare award letters from different colleges and universities. A financial planner, however, assists you in organizing your finances, making investments, and developing long-term strategies for important milestones (like paying for your child’s college tuition).

What’s the FAFSA? Will you fill it out for me?

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is used annually by colleges and universities to determine the amount of federal financial aid, scholarships, grants, and work-study funding currently enrolled or prospective students will receive for the upcoming academic year. The information you provide on the FAFSA is used to calculate an Estimated Family Contribution (E.F.C.)—a number that impacts the amount of federal funding you will be eligible for.

While we do not prepare FAFSAs for our clients, our financial aid consultants can work with you via video conference, walking you through each step of the application, answering your questions, and assisting you in real time as you fill out the form.

What is the CSS Profile? Will you fill it out for me?

Similar to the FAFSA, the College Scholarship Service (CSS) Profile is an application used to determine the amount of funding currently enrolled or prospective students will receive during a given academic year; however, unlike the FAFSA, the CSS Profile is used by approximately 400 schools to assist with the distribution of non-federal funding. The information on the CSS Profile digs a little deeper into a family’s financial situation. And, while there are no fees associated with the FAFSA, parents and students are charged a fee for each CSS profile form they submit to a school.

While we do not prepare CSS Profiles for our clients, our financial aid consultants can work with you via video conference, walking you through each step of the application, answering your questions, and assisting you in real time as you fill out the form.

Can I work with one of your financial aid consultants by the hour?

Yes, absolutely! Our financial aid consulting services can be purchased by the hour. It’s important to note, however, that our hourly financial aid consulting does not include additional support via phone or email.

Why should I work with a financial aid consultant?

Unfortunately, over-priced tuitions and increased access to student loans have forever altered the higher education marketplace. Today, students who fail to accurately assess the financial risks associated with pursuing a given major or career path will likely be forced to put off huge life milestones, such as buying homes, getting married, and starting families. Our financial aid consultants help students and parents make practical decisions, ensuring they select the right schools at the right prices.

Do you work with single-parent families?

Yes, we do! Aware of the specific needs and issues single parents often face when trying to fund a college education, our financial aid consultants are here to help answer questions and provide quality guidance.

I’m a parent. Should I hire a scholarship coach and a financial aid consultant?

In a perfect world, yes, you should hire both. A financial aid consultant can assist you in applying for federal financial aid and non-federal forms of institutional aid, evaluating private and federal loans, and even comparing award offers from colleges and universities. A scholarship coach teaches students and parents how to find and apply to quality external scholarship programs throughout all four years of college. The combination can be an effective one-two punch, decreasing your out-of-pocket expenses and overall student loan debt. But, as budgets and time commitments vary from family to family, parents and students should discuss the pros and cons of both services before making any long-term commitments.

SCHOLARSHIP COACHINGI don’t know anything about scholarships or where to find them. Can you help me?

We can definitely help you! Our scholarship coaches teach students and parents how to use free resources to locate, vet, and apply to quality scholarship programs.

Can I work with one of your scholarship coaches by the hour?

Yes, you can! Our scholarship coaching services can be purchased by the hour. It’s important to note, however, that our hourly scholarship coaching does not include additional support via phone or email. This type of support is included in our College Planning Packages.

What’s the difference between a scholarship coach and a financial aid consultant

A professional financial aid consultant provides guidance that can help you increase your chances of receiving more federal financial aid and non-federal aid, lower your out-of-pocket expenses, evaluate private and federal student loan opportunities, and compare award letters from different colleges and universities. An experienced scholarship coach teaches students and parents how to use a variety of free resources to locate, vet, and apply to quality external scholarship programs.

What are scholarship application materials?

Scholarship application materials typically include essays, personal statements, paper applications, online applications, recommendations, and academic transcripts.

I took A.P. English in high school. Do I really need a writing tutor to help me with my scholarship application materials?

That’s a great question. The short answer is, no, you don’t. But, like it or not, the selection criteria for scholarship programs isn’t always straightforward. Ultimately, if you don’t know who you’re writing for (and, more importantly, what they’re looking for), you can end up wasting a lot of time and energy.

Furthermore, while students who have taken either advanced placement or college-level English courses likely possess solid foundations in the basics (e.g., grammar, format, and citation styles), a quick scan of the award-winning essays published online reveals an unfortunate truth: technical proficiency only gets you so far. When used in the wrong context, the rigidity of academic writing can be outshined by a simple, concise essay that emotes feeling. Scholarship judges are often obligated to read hundreds of personal statements and essays, many of which are full of recycled clichés that are as unconvincing as they are boring. Experienced in the art of persuasive writing, our writing coaches teach students how to use phrasing, creativity, and perspective to connect with judges and get noticed.

What about scholarship applications? Will my coach fill them out for me?

Sorry, go fish. Although they will never fill out scholarship applications for their students, our coaches will always help you find the information you need to complete a given scholarship application. And, even better, they know tons of tricks that can make the entire process go a lot faster.

Do your scholarship coaches work with college students, too?

Yes, definitely! We work with traditional (i.e., ages 17-22) and adult (e.g., 20s, 30s, 40s, etc.) college students, be they currently enrolled or planning on enrolling at some point in the near future.

What about part-time students and adult students? Can they sign up for scholarship coaching?

Yes, and yes! Both part-time students and adult students are more than welcome to work with our scholarship coaches. In fact, Vested Academics’ CEO, Tyler R. Vunk, was an adult student. You can learn more about his story HERE.

Can parents work with a scholarship coach (i.e., alone, without a student)?

Yes, absolutely! Our scholarship coaches will always work one-on-one with a parent.

If I work with one of your scholarship coaches, I’m guaranteed to win a scholarship, right?

As our future success depends on referrals, we pride ourselves on transparency. Although we believe students who work with our scholarship coaches will, over time, become proficient at finding and applying to multiple, quality scholarship programs, we simply cannot and will not guarantee that anyone we work with will win a given scholarship program or essay contest. To say otherwise would compromise our ethics.

What if I put in all the work and I still don’t win a scholarship?

Unfortunately, yes, this could happen. But we’d like to think devoted students are unlikely to experience this situation, as the techniques taught by our scholarship coaches can be improved on throughout all four years of college. If you put in the time, you’re bound to get better at the scholarship game. Furthermore, we teach our students research and writing skills that have multiple applications. Proficiency in these skills not only gives you an academic edge but can also increase your overall employability.

Why do you teach students about scholarship scams and marketing ploys? Are they real?

Yes, scholarship scams and marketing ploys are real, which is why we’re committed to teaching our clients how to spot them. In fact, every year, scam artists regularly capitalize on desperate students and families by making false claims, guaranteeing their customers will win huge scholarship awards, grants, or even full college tuitions. Unfortunately, these opportunists usually end up furnishing their victims with little more than a list of scholarships that could have been found within any one of a dozen free scholarship search engines.

Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is—especially if there’s NO WORK OR LEARNING INVOLVED. You should NEVER PAY MONEY FOR A LIST OF SCHOLARSHIP MATCHES. Get informed and protect yourself from scholarship scams! You can find out more about scholarship scams and common marketing ploys on our FREE RESOURCES PAGE.

BOOKING & SCHEDULINGI want to purchase one hour of consulting. How do I schedule the date and time of my session?

You can book an hour-long session over the phone, with a member of our customer support team. When making your purchase, you will be asked to select a convenient day and time for your session.

I purchased a College Planning Package. How do I schedule a session with a college consultant, scholarship coach, or writing coach?

After purchasing a College Planning Package, you’ll receive an email that contains a link to our online scheduling service, allowing you to schedule your own sessions.

Where do I go for my session?

All Vested Academics consulting and coaching sessions are conducted via video conference.

I can’t make my session. What’s your rescheduling policy?

We understand that things don’t always go according to plan, especially for busy students and parents. That’s why we allow our clients to reschedule their sessions on their own, using our online scheduling service.

We do, however, require all rescheduling requests for a previously scheduled session to be confirmed at least 24 HOURS PRIOR to the start time of the previously scheduled session. For example, if you scheduled a session on Tuesday (10/05/19) at 2:00 pm, you would have to confirm your rescheduling request before 2:00 pm on Monday (10/4/19) at 2:00 pm. We thank you in advance for observing this rescheduling policy.

How do I reschedule a session?

Rescheduling a session is quick and painless. Simply log in to our online scheduling system and select a new day and time for your session. Please note that we do require at least 24 HOURS notice to reschedule a session.

PURCHASES & PRICINGDo you offer your consulting services by the hour?

Many of our consulting and coaching services can be purchased by the hour. Please note that our consultants and coaches will not provide any additional advice or guidance after the session is over. Additional support from our consultants and coaches is available by phone and email; however, this option is typically reserved for clients who purchase a College Planning Package.

If you have any questions about our services, hourly rates, or packages, we recommend you discuss your concerns with our customer support team before making your purchase. Thank you!

How do I purchase a College Planning Package?

Parents, guardians, and adult students interested in purchasing a College Planning Package should begin by booking a free phone consult with one of our consultants. During this call, you’ll learn more about what is included in each package, recommended timelines, and how to move forward with purchasing a package when you’re ready.

Do you offer family discounts?

Yes, we certainly do! Please contact our customer support team for more information. Additionally, you can learn more about our family discounts during a free phone consult—be sure to mention it to your consultant!

How do I schedule a free phone consult?

Scheduling a free phone consult with one of our consultants is quick and easy. Visit our “Book a Free Phone Consult Page” and select a convenient day and time for your free phone consult. Please note that OUR CONSULTANTS WILL CALL YOU on the day and time of your free phone consult, using the number you provided during the online booking process. Speak to you soon!

What should I expect during a free phone consult?

Typically lasting between 15 and 20 minutes, your free phone consult gives you the chance to have a brief, one-on-one chat with a member of our consulting team. While they can’t give out advice or guidance during this call, our consultants will certainly provide answers to any questions you might have about our services and College Planning Packages. And, above all else, we never try and pressure our potential clients into making purchases. College planning isn’t something that should be rushed into. We’d rather you get informed, discuss things over with your family, and come back to us when you’re ready. If you have any additional questions after your free phone consult, you can always email them to a consultant or our customer support team.

Who can book a free phone consult?

Parents, legal guardians, and adult students are permitted to book a free phone consult with one of our college consultants. Additionally, while we encourage students to participate in a free phone consult, we require parents and guardians to remain on the phone throughout the entire call.

What are your refund policies?

We’ve worked hard to create fair and transparent refund policies. You can read them HERE.

VIDEO CONFERENCINGCan I use a smartphone phone during a video conferencing session?

While our video conferencing application will work well on your smartphone, all writing coaching, application coaching, and scholarship coaching sessions must be conducted on either a desktop or laptop to ensure students can access websites and shared documents. Family meetings and most one-on-one admissions consulting sessions can, however, be joined via smartphone.

How do I join my video conference?

Shortly after booking your first session, you’ll receive an email with instructions outlining how to join video conferences with your consultant or coach.

We’re scheduled for a family video conference with our consultant. Can we join our meeting on different devices or do we have to use the same device?

That’s a great question. Some families enjoy sitting in front of the same webcam or laptop during their consulting sessions. And other families prefer to join on separate devices—an option which can come in handy for parents who frequently travel, commute, or work long hours and high students with busy extracurricular schedules. Ultimately, the choice is yours.

Do I need to use earbuds or a headset during my video conference?

Although our consultants typically wear headsets and earbuds during their consulting sessions to ensure our clients receive quality audio experiences, we only require students to wear these accessories when they join a session in a public place (like a study hall, library, or coffee shop).