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College Choice

Success in college is still the means by which dreams can become reality, but a good education doesn’t just happen.

To succeed, students must devote the time and effort to assess themselves, their situation, and their goals—and then identify the schools that best meet their needs. But with more than 4,000 colleges and universities in the United States, the choices available can be overwhelming. And given the cost of higher education today, spending a semester or year at a school that’s a poor fit with the student may represent an expensive misstep.

Dr. Antonoff provides expert advice on college planning, application, and admission by meeting one-on-one with students and their parents. Since 1981, he has helped more than 3,500 students identify the schools that fit their unique abilities, interests, and talents and provide an environment where they can thrive.

From a parent…
Your knowledge of the world of colleges and universities is incredibly extensive, and your ability to pass that information to your clients is equally remarkable. I felt privileged to listen to you discuss the various options available without ever placing a personal judgment call on any selection.

You helped our daughter to see who she is and where she might feel comfortable in the next four years of her life.

To connect students with good match schools, Dr. Antonoff draws on an extensive knowledge of colleges and universities gained from more than 30 years of experience (11 of them in college administration) plus visits to schools, personal research, professional connections, and follow-up discussions with past student advisees.

He is the author of The College Finder: Choosing the School That’s Right for You, now in its third edition, and College Match: A Blueprint for Choosing the Best School for You!, now in its tenth edition.

Five college planning worksheets are available here: The College Match Self Survey, College Planning Values Assessment, Self Knowledge Questionnaire, Qualities That Will Make a College Right for You, and Activities Experiences Worksheet. These self-administered surveys encourage students to think deeply about their college-going attitudes and skills, assess what they are looking for in a college, and identify colleges that fit their needs.

College planning—as serious and time-consuming as it is—does not have to take over the lives of high school students or their parents. Nor does the cost of attending college have to bankrupt families, wipe out retirement funds, or burden a student with sky-high debt for years to come. Young people can acquire an excellent education without paying the hefty price tag that comes with an elite school. Because he has the background and knowledge to help students and families navigate the myths and mystique surrounding college choice, Dr. Antonoff can effectively guide clients to schools that fit the student—academically, socially, and financially.

Dr. Antonoff focuses on goal-oriented and cost-effective College Planning Consultation and College Match Consultation. College Planning Consultation may take place at any time during the high school years and lays the groundwork for the college application process. College Match Consultation usually occurs in the second semester of the student's junior year of high school and is a highly focused session with the ultimate goal of creating a list of schools that is tailored to the student and includes both "low-chance-of-admission" schools (or "reach") and "high-chance-of-acceptance" schools (where the student has a high probability of admittance). Some students meet with Dr. Antonoff for College Planning Consultation in their early years of high school and then for College Match Consultation in their junior year. Dr. Antonoff currently does not provide a package of meetings. For families desiring consulting services beyond the two options described here, Dr. Antonoff will gladly give you names of consultants who can be helpful.


College Planning Consultation

What is it? College Planning Consultation consists of a single meeting or several meetings of between 50 and 90 minutes designed to explore a range of educational issues. An hourly fee is charged for this consultation.

Who is it for? College Planning Consultation is designed for students from eighth grade through the end of high school (and beyond for students considering gap year/time out programs or transferring to a different college).

What issues are addressed? The topics discussed in College Planning Consultation depend on the student’s year in school and individual needs.

For students just about to enter or in their first years of high school, the College Planning Consultation may include

  • advice on appropriate high school course selection
  • suggestions for working effectively with the high school guidance counselor/office
  • help on setting priorities (for example, which is most important: grades, test scores, or activities?)
  • assessment of extracurricular activities and ways to make the most of them
  • discussion of summer programs, internships, employment, and other nonschool opportunities
  • exploration of the latest trends/issues in college admission and how they affect college planning
  • identification of factors specific to the student that will ultimately shape the final list of colleges to apply to

For high school juniors and first-semester seniors, the College Planning Consultation may include

  • setting a college planning timetable
  • explaining college visit timing and purposes
  • reviewing finances and financial aid considerations
  • evaluating the pros and cons of early decision/early action
  • determining the factors essential to choosing a college
  • exploring the connection between college choice and career path
  • discussing how college essays should be written and how they are read by admissions officers
  • addressing concerns specific to the individual student and family

For students who want to postpone their college matriculation or transfer to a different college, the College Planning Consultation may include

  • examining the different time out/gap year options and what each entails and offers
  • discussing gap year benefits and detriments, including opportunities for self-discovery and growth, perceptions and misperceptions of family and friends
  • assessing what worked and what didn’t at the student’s current college
  • determining the missing “essentials” that would help ensure a successful college experience
  • identifying transfer-friendly colleges and universities


College Match Consultation

What is it? College Match Consultation is a focused, purpose-driven process that has, as its intended outcome, the development of the college list and discussion of the information essential to making good college planning decisions. Before meeting with Dr. Antonoff, students and families are asked to provide a transcript, test scores, list of activities, and other factual data and to complete questionnaires about the student’s preferences and interests as well as parental perspectives. The meeting itself consists of a single session of between 90 and 120 minutes. The fee for this consultation includes review of submitted materials, preparation for the meeting, and the consultation itself.

Who is it for? College Match Consultation is intended for high school juniors and first-semester seniors. Experience has shown that the most productive College Match Consultations occur between March of junior year and October of senior year.

Prior to their College Match Consultation, many students and families have conducted some college research on their own or with help from guidebooks, websites, or high school counselors. Others may have met with Dr. Antonoff for College Planning Consultation in their freshman, sophomore, or junior years. No matter where clients may be in the college application process, however, Dr. Antonoff draws on his 30 years of knowledge and experience to empower, inform, and educate the student and family on appropriate college options.

What issues are addressed? The College Match Consultation is tailored to the specific needs of the student and family and their current stage in the college application process. Topics covered in the consultation could include

  • identification of colleges that match the student’s abilities, interests, goals, and talents—in short, where the student can not only “get in” but also “fit in”
  • review of colleges already under consideration by the student and discussion of what each college is like and what are the student’s likely chances for admission
  • explanation of reach schools, match schools, and safety schools, and why certain colleges are categorized according to a particular level of selectivity
  • addition of “good fit” colleges to an existing list
  • suggestions for making the most of travel to colleges and interviews with college officials
  • impact of grades, coursework, and testing on college admission decisions
  • recommendations about the student’s resume, list of extracurricular activities, and other material to be used in the application process
  • essay review (if submitted)
  • financial aid options and the financial aid application
  • resources to use during the college planning and application process
  • timetables for the months following the consultation
  • guidelines on how to respond when offers of acceptance are received
  • tips for ensuring a successful freshman year in college

From a parent
You were just what we needed. We did not need someone to “hand-hold” Josh—or us! We met with you when Josh was in his sophomore year, and you gave us an overview of the process. Your advice led to corrections in his junior and senior year schedules, his activities, and his motivation to succeed in order to have good college choices. Particularly valuable was your helping us to understand how colleges rank candidates. We then met with you in May of Josh’s junior year for the College Match Consultation. You helped us see that his college list was not balanced (too many “reaches”) and you added some terrific “good match” colleges to his list. You also told us what each college was like, which helped Josh hone in on the colleges he should apply to.