8 Moms Share Their College Admissions Experience

I recently attended a Workshop with eight parents (in this case, moms) who shared their best advice on how to handle the college admissions process.

They all had recent experience helping their children get accepted to Drexel University, UC Berkeley, Syracuse University, Georgetown University, University of Pennsylvania, Mesa Community College and others.

Here are the highlights:


  • Most paid $3K - $4K for a private counselor
  • Lukewarm results
    • most seriously questioned whether it was worth the money
    • a few found it helpful
    • one found it invaluable
  • A few DIYers did not hire a counselor and used school resources to help
  • Most waited to seek counseling until their child proved to be unengaged
  • Strong positive: Offloading process onto someone other than mom
  • Some identified specific areas where counselors came in handy


  • Don't wait until junior or senior year!
  • Most children procrastinate to shield themselves from perceived...
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How to Narrow Your College List from 4,000 to 14


Due to popular demand, I have posted this webinar as a blog post (with video) for those who missed it the first time around.

In this training, I walk you through a strategy to build (or refine) your child's college list. Many times, this is one of the biggest challenges during the college admissions process.

  1. What are the 4 critical steps and what sequence should they be done
  2. 3 case studies of high school students interested in engineering, science, and history
  3. A click-by-click tutorial that you can follow-along with to build your list

In a follow-on webinar, I'd like to address what comes next in the process. Namely, making sure that your list is "balanced" and that you can afford the colleges on the list. This is no small chore, either.

Please provide feedback or comments below with your experience with this process. 

Enroll in PrepWell Academy

Prep On,


Author: PrepWell Academy's Founder, Phil Black, has spent a lifetime cracking the code on the world's...

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One Dad's story...

Here's a testimonial from a PrepWell parent on why he chose PrepWell over other college counseling options:

[Note: This note was after his son and I had our initial 30-Minute Onboarding Session]


Thank you for reaching out and sharing your initial views about J. I think you gathered as much insight as possible about him based on reviewing his profile and 30-minute call. And, frankly, it's really nice to read some of your initial impressions about J.

Given that I anticipate that this will be a multi-year relationship, I wanted to provide some additional perspectives that may help you as you continue to work with him:

I reviewed many options for college counseling before settling on you.

Among the things that stood out to me:

  • Your demonstrated accomplishments across a wide range of educational and professional opportunities
  • Your emphasis on the importance of long-term planning and preparation - truthfully, this is what "sold me" as it is very closely aligned to my own approach...
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College Admissions Advice - What are my options?

If you’re reading this blog, you are probably researching different ways to help your child (and you) prepare for the college admissions process.

Well, I’m right there with you. I have 4 sons making their way through this process right now, and I have a pretty good idea of what you’re going through.

In fact, the reason I developed PrepWell Academy, is because when I was in your shoes, I didn’t like what I saw when I looked at the available options.

The process appeared stressful, intimidating, expensive, and not well-balanced. It started TOO LATE (junior or senior year), and it focused so heavily the “application process” and “getting into College XYZ” and not about developing the “whole” student.

And it didn’t seem like the “process” had changed in over 30 years – despite the changes in expectations, competitiveness, cost, and the way the world works today.

So, I gave this a lot of thought. And...

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4 Tips To Finish the Summer Strong

By now, a lot of the summer "busy-ness" is winding down. After all, school starts in a few weeks for most of us.

I wanted to review a few things that you can do with your kids to get them back into a learning mindset. If you've been following me "live" every day on Facebook, you may have heard me discuss some of these issues in recent weeks.

(1) Math Brain
With few exceptions, most parents (unless they are PrepWell Parents) report that their kids have not done one ounce of "math work" this summer.  I don't like this one bit.  It's important that students keep up some level of engagement with math so that they are not starting next year from ground zero. Teachers confess that the first 3-4 months of the school year is spent reviewing last year's material in order to get kids' brains back in order.

Solution: Encourage your child to create a Khan Academy account (if they don't have one already) and work through the modules until they have achieved 100% mastery of last year's...

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Transition Night | From Middle to High School

From Middle School to High School

Many cultures, religions, and social groups mark the transition from middle school to high school with some type of event, celebration, or activity.

For my two sons, I decided to make up my own transition event. I wanted it to be fun, significant, and memorable.

The Search for Advice

I started by soliciting advice from trusted friends and family members about their personal experiences with this transition as well as anything they learned from ushering their own children through this phase of life.

I received a ton of exceptional advice.

The hard part was parsing it down into something that was accessible and not overwhelming.

I boiled down pages of input into 11 Key Words. These words, in my opinion, represent some of the most important aspects of life that a rising high schooler will face.

There are no right or wrong answers to this puzzle, but here are my 11 Key Words:

  1. Relationships
  2. Preparation
  3. "Good"
  4. Discipline
  5. Fun/Not Folly
  6. Patience
  7. Struggle
  8. ...
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Summer is a terrible thing to waste...

Summer: A Terrible Thing to Waste

Does your child have a plan for the summer? 

Summer is one of the most important and often underutilized blocks of time in a teen's life. With few mandatory school commitments, the possibilities for growth and life experience are endless.

Unfortunately, end-of-school fatigue and the allure of "time off" can overwhelm even the most well-intentioned parent and child. Snap your fingers and "poof" - it's September!


One of the most important skills a teen can learn is how to think about the future (vision), how to plan for the future (preparation), and how to follow-through on a plan (execute). This skill will be repeated hundreds of times over their lifetime.

The skill is known as goal-setting - and should be taught and practiced sooner rather than later.

Summer is the perfect time and duration to practice this skill.

What We Teach

PrepWell Academy's Lesson (Week 2) is all about goal-setting.  I challenge students to not only ...

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Why Teens Should Master the Skype Interview

These days, connecting with admissions officers, coaches, and potential employers via Skype (or FaceTime) is becoming more and more common.

Video interviewing represents a new "life skill" that high schoolers should embrace and practice sooner rather than later.

Most of my mentoring sessions with PrepWell students are held via Skype (or FaceTime) to maximize efficiency.

Not only does this help me stay in touch with them, but it allows them to practice this important skill in a non-intimidating setting.

I'd rather that they learn and make mistakes with me, than with a college admissions officer, coach, or potential employer. I'm their mentor and part of my role is to provide praise and constructive criticism where appropriate. 

I even mentor my own children via Skype when we are in the same house.


Just because an interview is conducted remotely, doesn't mean it's any less important. First impressions count whether in-person or online.


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Sweet & Sour Summer

Summer is a few weeks away. Does your child have a plan?

Within PrepWell Academy, I spend significant time helping students plan their summers. This entails several weeks of advice, recommended websites, prompts for self-reflection, and interest inventories.

Why are summers so important?

  • An opportunity to learn and grow
  • Time to prepare for standardized tests
  • A chance to "test a theory" about careers
  • A break from over-scheduled school year
  • A time to earn money
  • Exposure to college coaches
  • and more...

If you would like your child to get the full playbook on these options and their pros and cons, enroll them in PrepWell Academy.

I do have a general recommendation, however, that applies to all high school students.

Have your child pursue a "sweet and sour" summer. That is, 50% sweet (or fun) and 50% sour (or hard). I'm sure they will have plenty of ideas for the sweet part.

For the sour part, they get to pick from these options:

  1. construction work
  2. landscaping
  3. moving and storage company...
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The Chore Wars

My wife and I understand the importance of chores. They teach responsibility, accountability, discipline, pre-planning, and the value of money.

Our four children, apparently, never got the memo.

We have tried many times, unsuccessfully, to create a chore system that works. Each attempt has gotten progressively more serious.

The length of this email is reflective of the months it took us to get it right.  If you value chores - but haven't quite cracked the code - it may be worth the read.

In military terms, we have now reached DEFCON 2 (Defense Condition 2: one step before maximum readiness for nuclear war).

Here is our journey to the brink of a nuclear chore war:

DEFCON 5 (lowest state of readiness): Just Tell Them
At first, we just told our kids what their chores were and expected them to do them. What a rookie mistake. Who were we kidding? It was a disaster. They claimed they didn't know what to do, wondered why they had to do X when their brother could do Y, insisted they...

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