I have to confess...I am a person who was raised by a tiger mom, who loved to constantly improve, and I was at the top of my class. So this review is detailed and clear about the differences between each course…
I was the kid who did every single test prep course out there, from classes to one-on-one tutoring, to get the perfect score on the SAT…so it’s not surprising that I am obsessed with the college admissions process today.
So, when doing a review for the college admissions process options, I realized that I went on a hunt to find the best product out there. 90% of the college consulting world actually involves clients paying close to $4,000-$90,000 for a college consultant. In search for cheaper options, I decided to write a review of the courses available online. So, with the new year just starting, I thought I’d do a full-on review.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT SYSTEM FOR YOU
Now I need to say that it is super important to find the right system for you. It might sound weird, but most people need to find the right solution so they feel comfortable with every decision while choosing the right college. There is a large majority of parents who believe that the college process can be done with no resources, and it is not a NEED to have when it comes to applying to college. But, when looking at the competition rates rising by over 50% in the last 7 years, parents are frantically trying to find solutions, that are well, affordable options to supplement their college readiness.
So please take this side-by-side video course comparison as a fun way to pick the best tools and strategies to help you get your kid into college.
Yes, if you pick one of these courses and you end up putting it to good use, you will most definitely have a better leg up than someone just relying on themselves to know the latest trends and tools on college admissions.
But that will be because YOU made it happen. You just happened to have a cool and motivating course to make it easier for your child.
So with that caveat out of the way, let’s take a look at these online courses, shall we?
1. LEARNERATOR’S MASTER COLLEGE ADMISSIONS: THE COMMON APP ($24-$29)
This is the first course I saw on Udemy, a major platform for online digital learning, that focused specifically on college applications, specifically The Common Application.
PROS: Out of the many courses I have watched, this one has very beautiful PowerPoint slides and video graphics for the slides. The slides are informative, have good statistics, and the course is extremely, extremely thorough.
CONS: Will Yang, the instructor, is off the side most of the time, and half faded out, so the main portions of the course are being walked through stock images or PowerPoint slides.
The focus of the course is walking through the entire college admissions process. The length of this course was daunting for me: there are over 45 lectures to go through, of which 10% of them are over an hour long! I think that this is a lot of lectures to go through while trying to balance out schoolwork, extracurricular activities, sports, and more. One of the feedback points I have for this course is that the re-caps of the lectures seemed unnecessary. Another feedback point is the sheets to download. From a design standpoint, they are not as pretty as I would like them, and you have to go through all 46 lectures to find out where you have to download each sheet, instead of a full workbook. Here is an example worksheet below:
Overall, I will say that it is a thorough course that does walk a student through the college process. I think in terms of length and design of workbook it could have been better. The structure of the course includes 17 lectures on just how to fill out the basics of the application, which for most people is a no-brainer part of the application. I would want a course that gives detailed information on the essay and resume portions, which are the most difficult part of the application, with great downloads and sheets.
2. CAROL BARASH’S COMMON APP ESSAY ESSENTIALS: 10 STEP COURSE ($24-$49)
Carol Barash’s background includes working as an admissions reader at Douglass College. She has worked with numerous students on the application process and is focused on essays specifically.
PROS: Her background helps with this course, as she does have the educational background that is beneficial for teaching writing. She was an English professor before she launched her company, and she has a passion for writing. Another pro is that this course is one hour long - so it is much shorter than Will Yang’s course.
CONS: The course is broken into 34 lectures - which again, takes a lot to get through even though the videos are shorter. I also have an issue with lighting and sound quality, as when it is not professionally done, it can be extremely difficult to focus on the content. In addition, there are absolutely no downloads for sheets or workbooks for this content. I believe that students need something to write their notes down, and to brainstorm if the course is focused on essays. Also, 30% of the lectures are re-caps. Again, I understand the importance of re-capping, but this is video - students can just rewind to catch the content. I also have a very difficult time focusing on her head only, as the background didn’t change and there was not any editing done to help create breaks or interesting changes, elements that I would feel are required to keep a teenager’s attention.
3. STACEY BROOK’S COLLEGE ESSAY ACADEMY MASTER CLASS ($24-$39)
Stacey is a college consultant who helps students write their essays. She has a communications background and is focused on helping students write strong personal statements. Overall, this course is a good length, but it is broken down into 20 lectures.
PROS: The downloadable sheets are great for this course. I have to say that this is one of the more professional downloads that I have seen. In addition, the graphics for the video are wonderful. They are great to catch your attention and are very interesting.
CONS: The course length of 20 lectures still seems like a lot to get through and complete. In addition, there is no “face” in this course. Unlike Will Yang, where we at least get a face in the corner, or Carol’s where it is all face, this course literally has no face. It is a voice-over presentation the entire time. There are a LOT of sheets to download. Although it is a good course on the essay section ONLY, it has a ton of sheets to fill out.
4. JANINE ROBINSON’S ESSAY HELL COURSE ($99)
Janine is a high school teacher who developed a course to help students with the essay portion of the college admissions process. Because I did not purchase the course, it is difficult for me to review it. I will say that from what I can see, the videos are going to be PowerPoint slides with stock images, based on the promotional video and description. It seems like quite an extensive course, but it is very difficult to get a sense of the level of quality of the course and the professional quality of it.
5. KHAN ACADEMY’S APPLYING TO COLLEGE COURSE (FREE)
Khan Academy, the largest provider of free digital online content for students, teachers, and more, has created a course on how to apply to college. The course is completely free, which means anyone can have access to it.
PROS: With such a large budget, Khan Academy has an extremely professional video quality feel to the course. The people on the course are extremely knowledgeable, and they were able to gain access to admissions counselors at UVA, Yale, Boston University, and more.
Although the course has access to major admissions teams, the issue I have with it is that it feels it is more geared toward adults than it is teenagers. The amount of lectures and length to the entire course seem like a lot to take in. And, although to an adult, the admissions team counselors are important, they tend to take a long time on camera to discuss the benefits of applying a certain way to college. The people on video are much older and tend to talk for long periods of time, off-script. I also am not a fan of the Khan Academy style of blackboard with the colored writing - as the college process is interactive and more dynamic.
6. COLLEGE SHORTCUT’S COURSE ON HOW TO GET INTO COLLEGE ($497) AND ESSAY SHORTCUTS COURSE ($197)
College Shortcuts, started by Neha Gupta, CEO of the number one tutoring company in the fourth largest city in the country, has created a suite of products to help students know her exact secret formula of getting into the colleges of their dreams. She has over SEVEN courses, including Essay Shortcuts, Interview Shortcuts, Resume Shortcuts, How To Pick Your Major, Scholarship Shortcuts, and College Shortcuts.
PROS: This course is to the point and gives the exact information that Neha Gupta uses with high-paying consulting clients. The videos are all professionally shot with two to three camera angles, leaving very little room for teenagers to lose interest. Neha Gupta is hilarious on camera and knows how to keep teens’ attention, over years of working with them. Her videos are short and to the point, helping students get the nuts and bolts they need in every single course. The workbooks for each course are professional and include over 400 Power Words, resume templates, hand-written note templates, the Elite Edge College Dashboard, and so much more to have it all in one place for the student.
CONS: Neha goes pretty quickly, and she is very much to the point when it comes to her content. If people feel that they want 40-50 lectures per course, this might cause you to want to pause often to get all the information, as she is extremely succinct. If you have to listen to the same thing for 45 minutes to get the message, then you may not be happy with this course. Neha’s messages are short, concise, and effective as she understands how busy moms and teenagers can be while doing this process.
In the end, the decision to take action in the way that is best for you and your child is the most important step. I know that there is not one right answer for everyone, but the idea that you are taking action and moving it forward is more important than thinking about it and doing nothing.
I created my courses because I understand teenagers from my extensive work experience with them. I wanted to create something that was attractive and appetizing for the young student to be able to learn and take action, so that the parent did not have to do all the pushing, pulling, and prodding in the college admissions process.
Ultimately, getting your kid into college can feel like a full-time job, and any course that you choose will help assist you in this process to lower your stress and anxiety. Picking the best one for you is the best next step.