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Frequently
Asked Questions

Explore our answers to commonly asked questions about working with Spark Admissions. Have a question we haven’t answered below? Contact us now.

What does a college admissions consultant do?

A college admissions consultant (also known as a college counselor or college admissions coach) is a trained professional who advises students on creating the most competitive applications to the school of their dreams.

The best college consultants guide students to identify their best-fit schools, build up stellar resumes, craft exceptional application essays, and stand out from other applicants. A college consultant should also alleviate stress, offer unique academic and extracurricular opportunities to students, and help preserve family harmony by serving as a guiding voice through the admissions process.

Why should I work with Spark Admissions?

Spark Admissions is the top-rated college admissions consulting firm in the country. We are a boutique firm of seven consultants working closely together to ensure all of our clients receive exceptional advice and service.

We are led by Harvard doctorate Rachel Rubin, a worldwide leader in college admissions research. In 2012, Dr. Rubin received international media coverage for her groundbreaking studies on how the 75 most selective U.S. colleges and universities make admissions decisions.

Spark Admissions consultants provide thoughtful, personalized advice to students and their families on the entire application process. As a team of experienced higher education professionals, we know what competitive schools seek and help students craft and tell unique stories.

We know applying to college is one of the biggest, most exciting steps in life, and we’re here to ensure students reach their academic, personal, and career goals. We develop individualized application strategies for each of our students to create an authentic, compelling, and unique application. Our holistic approach provides students with support and guidance through every step of the process and enables them to get the stellar results they desire.

How does partnering with an independent college counselor work?

We know the most competitive applications are the ones that showcase a student’s whole self, from academics to personal passions to future goals. And we believe to present a comprehensive application, you need a comprehensive admissions consultant.

That’s why Spark Admissions consultants work with students on every aspect of the admissions process, including choosing courses and extracurriculars, planning summers, developing college lists, preparing for interviews, writing application essays, and so much more. Once you begin working with us, your private college counselor will map out a clear and comprehensive plan to get you where you want to be.

Do you offer college counseling online?

Absolutely! While we are based in the Boston area, we work with students and families all over the country—and the world.

We provide personalized online college counseling wherever you are. No matter if your child’s high school is public or private, IB or online, in Massachusetts or Japan, we will help you make a plan to maximize his or her high school experience, produce exceptional application materials, and gain acceptance to the best-fit school. Our online college counseling clients have the same level of success and report the same level of service satisfaction as our Boston-based clients.

Do you offer education consulting for international students?

Spark Admissions is committed to working with all students applying to American colleges and universities and U.S. private schools.

Our consultants have worked with numerous international students and are well-versed in the unique requirements of this process, as well as the specific concerns and questions that international students face when applying to U.S. schools. We frequently serve as education consultants for international students applying to American colleges (as both first-year and transfer students), graduate programs, and private boarding schools.

Which college admissions consultant will I work with?

We match students with the best admissions counselor for their needs. We each work with a limited number of families to ensure we provide the personalized attention each student deserves.

All Spark Admissions team members share the same approach and experience, which ensures we all achieve the same excellent results. We also meet as a team regularly to discuss the needs of each student; therefore, each of our clients receives the collective guidance of our team’s experience, while having a deep, one-on-one relationship with their private college counselor. You can be confident that whomever your consultant is, you’ll be in experienced and capable hands.

Do co-founders Dr. Rachel Rubin and Rachel Blankstein work with students?

Yes, every member of our team works one-on-one with students and families. Dr. Rubin and Rachel Blankstein also meet personally with every member of our team about every student, individually as well as during regular team meetings.

No matter your Spark Admissions consultant, you can rest assured you are benefiting not only from his or her individual wisdom, but also from the collective expertise of the entire team.

When should my child start working with a college admissions consultant?

We believe it’s never too early or too late for a student to begin strengthening his or her experiences that will be showcased in college or private school applications.

On average, students begin with a college admissions consultant during sophomore year. However, some of our students begin in eighth or ninth grade, seeking guidance on navigating the entirety of high school. In addition, many come to Spark Admissions the summer before senior year for guidance specifically on the college application process and essays.

Students and families applying to independent and boarding schools find starting a year in advance is extremely helpful; however, we work with students and families whenever they are ready.

How many hours will my family need?

Because different students and families have different needs, we offer several flexible hourly packages for our clients.

At the beginning of our engagement, we’ll ask on which aspects of the process you’d like our help and we will use our time together accordingly. In the initial consultation, your counselor can talk with you more specifically about your goals and give a general estimate of what you’ll likely need.

We understand your needs may change over time, so you can easily move between packages as we work together to develop your unique strategy.

We also offer essay packages for incoming seniors and à la carte services for students seeking specific guidance on aspects of this process.

Do you offer tutoring services?

We know standardized testing is an important aspect of the admissions process, and we work with students to create the right testing plan for them.

While our full-time Spark Admissions counselors do not provide tutoring services themselves, we do have several tutors with whom we partner. These tutors are all closely vetted, trained, and managed to ensure a seamless fit. They work closely with our admissions counselors to help students achieve their goals and minimize stress. In addition, we help students decide which test to take and when to take it and provide advice on finding effective study resources.

Do you only work with students applying to Ivy League and other top-ranked schools?

Not at all. We pride ourselves on finding the best fit for each individual student.

Spark Admissions consultants work with students of all academic backgrounds to help them get into the right college for them. And, when students don’t know yet what type of school is right for them, we help them explore and understand their options to make the best personal choice.

While many of our students aim for Ivy League and other highly ranked schools, several apply to liberal arts colleges, state universities, or other institutions, such as art, film, or music schools or BS/MD programs. In addition, we work with a large percentage of students with learning differences, including ADHD, dyslexia, or executive functioning challenges.

This all sounds great! How do I sign up?

We can’t wait to meet you! Contact us to sign up for a free initial consultation. We will quickly be in touch to schedule a meeting (either in-person or remotely) with you and your child. You don’t need to send us anything in advance for this meeting; it’s just a chance for you to get to know us and ask questions. We can get started right away.

We have more 5-star Google reviews than any other college consulting firm.

Contact us to learn more about our admissions consulting services.

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