In 1987, my high school graduation year, most every aimless, mediocre kid I knew could get into our state university. This includes me. I don’t even remember writing a college essay, and I’m pretty sure we had one of those 1980s pre-SAT sleepover kind of parties that didn’t involve studying.
The college entrance process just wasn’t a big deal back in the day.
As we moved into the 1990s and 2000s the ante was up’d a bit more, and today?! Well…it is just different. It’s organized. It’s competitive. The expectations are higher. Students and parents put a lot of thought and planning into college preparation, essay writing and the application process.
Luckily there are local resources in Northeast Florida dedicated to helping you figure it out beyond a google search.
From Test-Prep Services:
- Sylvan Learning: www.sylvanlearning.com/us/ponte-
- Revolution Prep: www.
- University Select LLC: www.univselect.com
To Essay Review and Editing:
To Full College Counseling Services:
- Campus Boss: www.campusboss.com
- College Planning Partners: www.
- College Admissions Services: www.collegeadmissionsservices.com
- Horizon College Planning: www.horizoncollegeplanning.com
These local experts are available to navigate this new reality and offer an array of different levels of services depending on what your child needs. Costs vary widely, depending on what you need.
Ponte Vedra Beach’s Christina Cush, co-owner of the newly opened Campus Boss, and mom of three PV Sharks, was kind enough to share a little more background on the process.
How Would You Respond to People Who Think Editing, Coaching Etc for Teenagers is Overkill and Perhaps Unfair?
My co-owner and business partner Brigette Boyle, who’s based in New York, and I have discussed this at length. All the pressure trickles down from the fact that private colleges are so bloody expensive, and parents are freaked out at the thought of spending, in some cases, a quarter of a million dollars for four years of school. Or they don’t want their kids burdened with unwieldy student loans. The top schools recruit heavily from a global pool of applicants, not just the best in the U.S. So, kids aiming for those must bring it in their essays and interviews to showcase just how amazing they are. It’s a competition to get a spot, admission rates are low at the top schools, so why wouldn’t you put your best foot forward? But, we know there are lots of awesome schools out there, and a fit for every student. Also, we aren’t just interested in helping the students from the top academic tier. Students at all writing and academic levels deserve the same opportunity to showcase their special qualities, attend a fine institution and make a positive impact on the world. Most parents feel overwhelmed by this process, and they trust us to guide their students into making a positive impression. Plus, we are teaching students advanced writing skills through our brainstorming and feedback sessions, which will undoubtedly help them in college. The next phase of Campus Boss will include college essay, interview, and resume boot camps that are more concentrated and affordable. We want to make as many kids as possible into Campus Bosses!
What are the Biggest Challenges in the College Prep and Planning Arena?
Brigette and I are both very involved parents, but our business model does not work when kids hand in something that their parents heavily influenced. Parents, we love you, but you need to stay out of this process. You are paying Campus Boss to take some of the stress away. Let us brainstorm, edit and have the tough conversations with your kids about deadlines. Plus, you are getting ready to send your kids off to college, and they need to be independent. It’s a supercharged emotional time for kids and parents, so we understand that, but we also encourage the kids to work independently. It frees up their creative writing flow knowing mom or dad aren’t going to micromanage every word.
Who is the Target Student for Campus Boss?
Our target student grows with us, along their journey, from getting into college, to getting an internship to getting that first job. And then we want to work with all their siblings, cousins, and family friends, too! We work can remotely, which sets us apart. With Brigette in New York, we’ve successfully helped several clients through Skype, Facetime, texts, email, and phone calls. When it makes sense, we meet in person. But this flexibility has allowed us to work with students in Alabama, Indiana, and Connecticut.
Describe Your Unique Services…
Campus Boss has three buckets of services. For college admissions, we: help brainstorm essay topics, edit essays, prepare kids for interviews, help write resumes, and help prepare sports recruiting materials or evaluate film reels for artists or journalists. For college internships, we: help write resumes and LinkedIn profiles, prepare students for interviews, and edit cover letters and thank you notes. For post-grad goals, we: perform all the same services as we do for college internships and apply them to seeking a job; we also help grad school candidates by editing written materials for applications and preparing them for interviews.
Right now, our college admissions piece of the business is the busiest. Early Decision applications are due on November 1, though some Early
Action schools aren’t due until November 15. Then we will be busy again helping kids prepare essays for Regular Decision, which in most cases is January 2. In the essay portion of our business, we ask our students tons of questions and push them to dig deeper, to think more about what they’ve experienced and how to tell their story in a meaningful way that shows some wonderful characteristics. With our process, the essays they produce end up being more focused, interesting and impactful than their initial concepts and drafts. We anticipate growing our college internship business. We’ve already worked with many students on their resumes and interview skills. And we are super excited about growing our post-grad prep bucket. We’ve already helped someone revamp their resume and land her dream job and have someone lined up for help with his law school application materials.
When Should a Student/Parent Engage? Year? Month?
If you’re interested in our college admissions prep, you’ll ideally talk to us in the May or June of your Junior year. But we’ll take you on later than that, of course. I’m going through the admissions essay and application process right now with my older daughter, and I wish she started her paperwork and essays sooner. The pressure is on! I have twins who are freshman, and believe me, they are going to be banging out their essays the summer before Senior year. In addition to essays, we help college prospects fine-tune their interview skills for on-campus or alumni interviews. Many colleges don’t offer these until after a student applies. So, we expect that training piece of our business to pick up. If you’re interested in our internship prep, it depends on what cycle your college is on with job fairs and how strong your career services department is. In many cases, students fend for themselves when it comes to crafting a resume or cover letter. That’s where we come in. Additionally, your college may provide you with a list of companies, but with very little research about them. We help with that, too. If you’re interested in our post-grad piece, deadlines for grad school are different from undergrad, and you may need help smoothing out your personal statement and making sure you get in the critical info. It’s a completely different written work than a college admissions essay.
What Do You Consider Your Business Niche/Strength?
Our business’ strength is that I have a real-deal career’s worth of writing and editing experience, including editing essays from some of this country’s best writers. I’ve known Brigette for almost twenty years. I knew our personalities would work well together. She is super responsible and responsive, which I love. She brings so much legitimacy to our professional services due to her HR background and almost 20 years at a global media company. In her career, she has hired and mentored students from colleges across the country and knows how the youth market needs to sell themselves in interviews and written credentials. Together, we make an unstoppable team. We get along great, and we both love helping young people from diverse backgrounds communicate their strengths and values. It’s amazing to hear the stress in our students’ voices diminish during our first conversation. They’re like, “Okay, I’m going to get this done on time, and it’s going to be good.”
Any Services You Offer For Non-Students?
Yes! We like helping parents and other adults, too! Our business name is very well thought out. A campus can be a corporate space—Apple, Google and Pixar all have cool campuses. So, if the adults reading this want help updating their LinkedIn profiles or resumes, or preparing their interview skills for a big job upgrade—reach out to us. Brigette has extensive experience in executive coaching and career transitioning and we work with candidates at all levels in industries such as finance, legal, public relations, media, sales, and digital to name just a few. Just recently, we helped a lacrosse coach in Connecticut update her resume after not having touched it for 10 years, and she got her dream job. Currently, we are working with a young woman in the hospitality industry who is looking for a better-paying job with benefits. We love helping people land good jobs!
What Drew You To This Field?
I’d already edited a dozen or so college essays in recent years, mostly friends’ kids, who turned to me because of my professional writing background. When I dug into what kinds of backgrounds people had who edit college essays for a living, I was startled to see that very few in the Jacksonville area were professional writers and editors like me. I cut my teeth grinding away in the national magazine industry in New York City for 10 years, then freelanced for national and regional magazines for another fifteen years and published a non-fiction book under the Random House umbrella. I saw lawyers, child psychologists, and STEM professionals editing essays here, but not published writers or professionally-trained editors. Not to say that these folks can’t be good writers, but what do they know mentoring a young person to write better or editing? I’ve worked at some of our country’s most iconic magazines with big-name writers and lesser-known ones, and I truly enjoy the art and skill of editing. But it is a professional skill I’ve honed over 25 years, not a side gig. Additionally, I’ve sat in on dozens of college admissions talks, so I know what they are looking for in an essay. Higher education is in flux, and Campus Boss is committed to keeping up with the changes. Brigette and I are constantly reading relevant articles and sharing them with each other. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to get started!