Frequently Asked Questions

What is an educational consultant?

An educational consultant is a high school student's coach, cheerleader and advocate during the college selection process. A good educational consultant has extensive knowledge of schools and colleges and expertise in helping students uncover their emotional, academic, and social needs. He or she will be there to guide you through the college selection process, showing you options you might not have considered and, eventually, helping you find the right college fit for you.

Why work with an educational consultant?

Many students choose to work with an educational consultant for the unique blend of individualized, personalized attention and extensive, unbiased experience. An educational consultant is a resource to help guide you through the maze of college admissions: helping you plan ahead so you won't miss deadlines, providing you with goals, and motivating you to keep going when you get frustrated or discouraged.

A strong personal connection between student and consultant makes a tremendous difference during the college selection process. While professional expertise is critical, so are energy, humor and a solid rapport - especially in the high-stakes, high-anxiety college admission process. That's why we consult with you beforehand - to ensure that we'll be a good fit and make a successful team.

What kinds of students work with educational consultants?

All kinds! Many students think that only their Ivy-bound peers need educational consultants, but we work with students from all walks of life - student athletes, students with learning differences, gifted students, artists, even C students who worry they might not have any college options. Our goal isn't just to help you get into college. It's to take a journey of self-discovery with you and help match you with the a college where you will thrive.

When should I begin working with an independent counselor?

While students can begin working with us whenever they become interested and engaged in the process, we often begin working with students during the freshman year of high school. Starting early helps you make solid academic and extracurricular choices that can inspire and guide your college selection process.

At the same time, we recognize that different students mature at different rates and operate on different schedules. When you're ready, we're ready for you, with condensed programs that can help you maximize your progress in a compressed timeframe.

What different packages do you offer?

Our Comprehensive Program is eligible for 8th grade through senior year students. For the Freshman Start Program, we typically meet with 8th graders starting in January or February of that year to accommodate for course scheduling. Sophomore, Junior and Senior Start Programs can begin as early as July 1 prior to that academic year. Our Hourly Block Program is only eligible for seniors.

How many students do you work with each year?

Because developing a close relationship with each of our clients is a priority, we carefully limit the number of students we work with each year. No counselor works with more than 25 students per class. This ensures that we are able to provide each individual with the personal attention and accessibility he or she deserves.

When and where will we meet?

High school is a hectic time, so we do our best to be as available and accessible as possible. Most meetings take place in the Riley Baker office weekday afternoons, evenings and select weekend days, but we are happy to accommodate special appointments and arrangements. If you have a flexible school-day schedule, such as back-to-back lunch breaks, free study periods or free periods, we'll work with you to set up a convenient counseling calendar. We work remotely with clients via Skype and FaceTime too.

This sounds expensive; how do I know if it's a good investment?

College in itself is an expensive undertaking. With tuition at private schools now averaging $60,000 per year, educational counseling is simply a good down payment on an important long-term investment. Why? Study after study shows that students who are satisfied with their college experience - including their choice of major, academic standards and campus life - are more likely to have higher grades, build stronger networks and become more involved, and graduate successfully. Students who don't "fit" are more likely to withdraw, transfer or even drop out, a huge waste of tuition dollars and human potential.

The Riley Baker program is designed to ensure that you enroll in the college where you will be happiest, most engaged and most successful. As part of that process, our counselors are able to identify scholarships and other opportunities to help make earning your degree more cost effective. Last year, 65% of our students earned merit scholarships, a total award of nearly $2,545,000 toward college costs.