Statistics have shown that there is no benefit to taking the ACT or SAT more than twice. Spring junior year and then Fall senior year works out well.

If you are taking SAT Subject tests, it’s best to take them in May of your junior year as you are taking your AP exams for your AP Courses.

Touring colleges in sophomore year will help you determine what characteristics are important to you for your college years. Thus, visit any and all colleges, large and small, public and private, rural and urban. And make sure you attend the tour and information session at least at two campuses. (The alternative are the self-guided tours).

Junior year is when it is essential to visit campuses that now you know are more likely to be a match. Attend the structured tour and information sessions. Take notes on what you like and what you do not like.

ACT or SAT Test Day… the night before in bed by 10 and Saturday morning eat a wholesome healthy breakfast.

75% of the students who take the ACT do better the second time they take the test. The SAT test does not have similar statistics.

The average in the industry that an Independent College Advisor spends working with and for a client, is 30-50 man-hours.

The college application experience is not about the ‘Getting In.’ It’s about the ‘Match.’ Finding the college where you will have the academic, social, athletic, artistic experiences and graduate within 4 years.


“Ellen made the whole college application process super easy and smooth for me. Whenever I had questions about something, Ellen always responded within an hour, if not within minutes. She also got back essay edits very quickly, and she helped to prepare me for my scholarship interview well… I liked how she had me start early––researching colleges throughout junior year and starting essays in the summer before senior year. Without Ellen, I don’t think I would have been motivated enough to start the college application process so early… Most of the colleges Ellen presented seemed to match what I asked for and what I wanted to see in a college. If I didn’t think one of the colleges she presented to me fit what I wanted, it was no big deal and she would happily cross it off my list.” –2018 San Mateo graduate attending UCLA

“Our son had an excellent list of schools to apply to and was greatly rewarded with acceptances from the schools he cared the most about. Can’t get much better than that. We’re beyond thrilled with the outcome. We thank you for your contribution to that. Thank you.” –Mom of a 2017 graduate

“You made it easy for us as parents, since you did all the nagging :-). [Ellen] keeps the kids on schedule, answers questions quickly, and provides info about things you don’t know about.” –Mom of a 2018 high school senior

“Having Ellen know all of the steps required to identify, select, apply, and decide on a college. I had no idea how complex it is, how early you need to start, and the subjectivity in college applications involved. And focusing on the messaging of ‘matching’ vs. just going after a name brand school helped calibrate me as a parent. I also appreciated the honesty (‘this school should be no problem,’ ‘this school is unlikely,’ ‘this school may not be a good match,’ etc).” –Parent of a 2017 graduate

“The other day I was thinking about my decision to come to Mount Holyoke, and I thought of you! I love it here, and I am so glad you helped me get here. The professors are so passionate and the classes are so engaging. I guess I just wanted to say I how grateful I was for your help and Thank you again!” –2016 graduate attending Mount Holyoke

“The College4u service I found most valuable was the assistance on my Essays. Essays. Essays!!! We would go over each essay a multitude of times, I believe each has no less than 5 drafts. This is not because I am a bad writer, it is because Ellen catches every little comma, every misplaced word, everything! My essays went from good to amazing and that is a blessing.” –2017 graduate

“Ellen helped me get my essays to a point where I felt comfortable turning them in. I thought the process worked really well for me and I was accepted into almost every school I wanted to attend.” –Private high school student attending Clemson University in Fall 2018

“Ellen offers another perspective that many colleges do not provide on their websites… After giving my initial profile, I thought that the colleges Ellen presented to me all were a good fit for me. Each college had a student atmosphere and academic program that most fitted my tastes. I found the service of Ellen editing my essays the most valuable… I could send [them] over to Ellen and get feedback in 2 hours. The experience was great, and the most helpful part was Ellen’s resourcefulness.” –Public high school graduate attending UC Berkeley in Fall 2018

“Working with Ellen was great because she really helps take the stress out of the college application process. I liked that she came to the house for face to face meetings and was always a phone call away. One of the most helpful services was Ellen’s essay editing. The essay was a crucial part and I was glad to have someone there to guide me and give a second opinion.” –Graduate attending University of Colorado Boulder

“Teens need deadlines because it’s the best motivator and College4u does that for us. Instead of leaving things to the last week, deadlines help us space things out.” –2018 private high school graduate

“For someone who is prone to procrastinate, Ellen kept me on track. For once, I was actually able to stay on top of my college applications, thanks to the schedules provided by Ellen. I also came to Ellen believing that I would not be accepted into any four-year university. She gave me the confidence that I would be accepted into such a school.” –2018 freshman at NYU

“The colleges Ellen researched and added to my list were amazing and a perfect fit for me!” –2017 graduate attending the honors program at Howard University

“The number one reason a parent would hire Ellen is it’s outsourcing to a professional a job that is painful, detailed, and time consuming. For a kid like my son, it was a removal of a huge burden. Adding the personality profiling helped my son tremendously in filtering down to a school profile he was comfortable with.” –Parent of a 2017 graduate attending Colorado School of Mines

“Really valued your working with our son to “keep a watchful” eye on all the important deadlines for the application process. Appreciated your guiding our son through doing the homework and evaluating schools. Really valued your reading ALL the application essays our son submitted. It’s not something I would’ve wanted to do. This service is available, for free, via at his high school, but you’re a “one stop shop” that’s more beneficial. Most importantly, I loved our son working on his “personal statement” over the summer, so the load was lessened during application season.” –Parent of a 2017 graduate

“For us, your total package was exactly what we needed. From the session of helping us figure out what we really want from the undergraduate program, to location of the schools, to determining the final list, to the actual application process. Everything that you did with and for us helped lift the stress of our shoulders. I also appreciate your honesty, and preventing me from getting all stressed and doubting about whether [my daughter] would be admitted into a great school.
Thank you again for all your help, and especially support for me, the nervous mom. You have made our college application process so much easier to manage. THANK YOU!!!!” –Mom of a 2016 graduate attending Willamette University

“I wanted to let you know that I have committed to UC Berkeley as a member of the class of 2020. This definitely wouldn’t have happened without you, thank you so so much!” –2016 graduate

“Ellen worked well with [my son] and was able to get him to complete all tasks without any parent involvement. She made the entire college application process painless.” –Mom of a 2016 high school graduate attending UC Santa Barbara

“Working with Ellen really motivated me to get my tasks done on time and turn in quality work. I felt very lucky and privileged to have her by my side because she kept me on track and worked really hard on my essays to ensure that they were top notch!” –2017 graduate who after acceptance to Howard University, was then asked to be in their Honors College

“We are very grateful for your help, it was a very positive experience.” –Mom of a 2016 graduate

“Thank you so much for all your help and guidance, and for pushing me to do my best. Hiring you was undoubtedly a wise decision, and the correct one given my lack of orientation when we began. I am extremely grateful for your experience, and your kindness as well. Checking up on me, and following up even after there was no response to the first two attempts only serves to solidify my sense of your dedication to my excellence and future.” –2016 transfer student attending California Institute of Integral Studies

“Thank you so much Ellen! I honestly don’t know what I would’ve done without your help.” –2016 high school graduate attending UCSB

“Thanks again Ellen! You are just awesome. Period.” –Mom of a 2016 high school graduate attending Willamette University

“One of the things I loved best about working with Ellen is that she is there for us 100% of the time. She pushed me to do my best but was also there for me on an emotional level during the stressful process. I also want students to know that Ellen is always there to answer literally any question, but she also helps you learn answers on your own! It makes the whole process so much less stressful. And Essay help was definitely the most helpful because I feel that we really worked through it until perfection.” –2014 high school graduate attending Oxford College

“Ellen, thanks for all your amazing help through the college process!” –2014 senior upon completing all her applications before Thanksgiving

“Our daughter graduated with a major in Broadcast Journalism and 2 related minors. You picked this college for her that was not even on our radar. You told me to relax and let go, that this college was the fit for her. Thank you for being so right. Thank you for all your help with both our girls. Just thought you would like to hear how your influence and help was so positive.” –Mom of 2014 college graduate. Her sister graduated a few years earlier.

“What I liked best about working with Ellen and College4u was that Ellen kept track of everything, communicating directly with our daughter, and held her accountable. And College4u decreased stress between parents and student in our household. Finally, with College4u, we felt the services were just what we needed.” –Dad of a 2014 high school graudate who attended University of Notre Dame

“By working with Ellen you are not completely on your own during the college application process. This gives you security as you know that you have someone experienced to help you solve your doubts and answer your questions. And the Schools Ellen provided for me to research and eventually apply to met the guidelines I provided Ellen with and allowed me to consider opportunities I had never been aware of. I really can not think of any improvements for the College4u service. Indeed, Ellen, working with College4u helped me feel closer to the United States, given that I live in Peru, and thus, less disadvantaged of lacking various resources kids in the States have. Ellen provided me all the tools I needed to pave my way into Stanford University. Thank you!” –2014 international graduate of an IB high school in Peru

“I am very excited to be done with school and I couldn’t have gotten it all started without you! Thanks for everything.” –2014 graduate of Columbia College of Hollywood

“Even though some parents may have the information I didn’t have, I think working with Ellen has an advantage over working on your own because, having a third party – and a professional third party – directing your student, will ease the tension that arises naturally between parents and kids during this process. Ellen made my daughter feel that she was “her” advisor, that Ellen was working “with her” (not with me), so her advice and pressure was well accepted and created no tension between us. Teenagers receive advice from a third party they consider is on their side, much better than from parents – no matter how close a relationship they have with their parents. In my case, I felt I had no knowledge or experience about the application to university process, and even though I fully participated with my daughter (reading all of Ellen’s suggestions, ideas, proposals, etc. and also all of my daughter’s essays) when it came to taking decisions or making corrections, I left my daughter consult Ellen and decide on her own. Knowing Ellen was there to guide her, I felt I could take that position.” –Mom of a 2014 international student who attended Stanford

“Students would want to work with Ellen for college advising instead of working on their own because Ellen allowed me to expand my look on the colleges available. Without Ellen I would have discarded many colleges even the one I picked.” –2014 high school graduate who attended Arizona State University as an Engineering Major

“I enjoyed working with Ellen because she was very helpful in her criticism and because she had the student’s (my) best interests at heart. Other students would want to work with her because of her ability to keep students up with deadlines.” –2014 high school graduate who attended Connecticut College

“What I liked best about the College4u service is that Ellen has a straight direct approach with no “sugarcoating” or wrong expectations. And other parents would want the College4u service because it makes a parent’s life so much easier and less stressful during the process.” –Mom of a 2014 high school graduate

“Honestly, this is the best thing that’s ever happened to me. The campus is even more gorgeous than you had mentioned. So far my transition into the Sauder Business program has been very smooth.  Thank you for helping me achieve this great success, and I wish your next batch of students the same triumphs.” –2013 college transfer student at The University of British Columbia

“I really enjoyed the service and found it extremely useful. Having your help made me feel better about my applications and my essay as essay writing is my weakness. I can honestly say that there is nothing I would change about the service you provided. Thank you again for everything!” –2013 high school graduate who attended UCLA

“I just wanted to thank you so much for helping me apply and get in to Boston College. It couldn’t have been a better fit for me, and I love it here! If you ever have any prospective students that have any questions about BC, I would love to answer any questions they have!” –2012 high school graduate a few months after starting at Boston College

“Ellen, I’ve finally decided on the College of Charleston and I am going to deposit my enrollment fees this week! Thank you so much for these opportunities to go to schools I never would have found without you! I’m so excited.” –2011 high school senior

“Thank you for keeping us going and on track!! Caroline still says she has NO IDEA what colleges she should visit, so thank goodness you’re making the plan and itinerary!” –Parent of a 2010 high school graduate

“I enjoyed working with you Ellen, because of the relaxed but serious, straight-forward business nature of our meetings and calls. Working with you helped me feel like I was on track with my college stuff and I enjoyed being on a time schedule. It was a relief to know I had guidance along the way, step-by-step.”m –2009 high school graduate who was accepted at 15 of the 17 universities to which he applied

“College counselors at school can be helpful, but I found that it was REALLY helpful to have someone who knew me, knew which schools I was applying to, and who I could email constantly about my essays and applications. Ellen helped me find schools that were great matches for me, and she helped edit my essays so that they were the best they could be.” –2009 high school graduate who attended LMU

“One of the tasks that Ellen helped me on was consulting me on my essays. She helped me refine my essays so what I wanted to say is what got conveyed.” –2008 Hillsdale High School graduate who attended UC Davis

“I most enjoyed the ease of communication in working with Ellen. Other students would most want to work with College4u to help in all the organization that is necessary.” –Justin, 2007 high school graduate who attended UC Boulder

“College4u is the only reason I have the opportunity I have now. Without Ellen, I never would have found Trinity College or gotten the full tuition merit scholarship.” –Jake, 2006 high school graduate who attended Trinity College

“Ellen provides a lot more information about schools than a student would find on their own. She has experience with the colleges and has talked to many admissions counselors, coaches, students, and administrators, and because of this she knows more of the inside scoop. Also, she really gets to know her kids and is able to make a good analysis of which schools will fit which student. Ellen’s consulting services and coaching have been instrumental for my college career.” –2006 high school graduate who attended University of Santa Barbara

“As parents, we go through many emotional feelings as our children embark on the college admissions process and discuss being ‘away at school.’ Our goal was to have our son, Jacob, make his own adult decision on college and do this without major influence, input, or direction from us. We wanted him to ‘own’ the decision, as this would be something he would be committed to for at least four years. Ellen equipped Jacob with tools and assistance that gave him confidence in making a college choice that was right for him. We feel this is the best formula for his future success.” –Mother of 2006 high school graduate who attended Trinity College and 2008 high school graduate who attended St. Mary’s College

“The College Tour that Ellen sets up is very helpful and organized. Students will not only be given a tour of the selected campus, but she also arranges interviews as well. You learn a great deal about college life, and see various forms of the culture, especially if you are going to the opposite coast. The College Tour is definitely a fun experience and I recommend it to everyone.” –2006 graduate of Hillsdale High School in San Mateo

“Working with Ellen is the way to go. It is much better to work with her than to try to do the college process on your own. You can never answer your own questions! She really knows everything you need to know so you are prepared for every step!” –Stephanie, 2005 graduate of San Mateo High School attending her first choice school

“Thank you very much for helping me this year! You really made a huge difference.” –Audrey, student who attended University of Washington