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When will it be over? When will he decide?

These were the two questions that had been pervading my household for two months. It all started on a hot day in August when I finally sat down with my son and asked him “Where do you want to go to college?” and “Where will you get in?” My son had said he didn’t want big; 5,000 – 10,000 was the perfect size. So we called Janice, founder of Custom College Visits, to get her opinion on which schools he should apply to. She had helped us with our older son, and had him apply to a number of schools that we would have never thought about. Of course, it was one of these schools that he now attends. Back to my other son. She explained to him that he needed to expand his list and gave us names of other schools she thought he may like, based on criteria that she had discussed with him. Some that were ‘reaches,’ some we hoped would be ‘likelies’ and others that seemed right on target. She even encouraged him to apply to a few big schools, because after talking to him she felt that he could really thrive at one of them.

With a list of about 12 schools, my son began the process. Getting through the applications and writing the essays was just one aspect of this stressful journey. My son knew if he was going to apply early anywhere, he had to go see the schools—besides helping to choose which schools to apply to, this is where Janice and Custom College Visits was invaluable.

Janice helped us set up meetings with professors in his field of interest, find students he could spend time with and possibly go to class with and also organized times for him to speak with various student groups on campus. After two trips in the fall, he knew to which schools he wanted to apply to, and even thought he knew which one he really wanted to go to. On Janice’s suggestion, he applied to a few others he hadn’t seen. As time passed, all the applications were in and now he had to wait…

Fast forward to the spring and it was now time to make a decision. My son was very lucky; he had been accepted to a number of schools and had a lot of great choices. His heart was set on the school he had seen in the fall, but some of the other acceptances came with scholarship and honors offers.

Feeling that he should give these other schools and chance, some of them bigger than he had originally wanted, we set out again. Janice planned more meetings with professors, overnights with students, and in-depth campus tours. She even organized a time for us to meet with the director of one of the school’s scholar programs and current students that were in the program.

One by one, he was able to narrow down his choices to two. Ironically they couldn’t have been more different. Elon in North Carolina with 5,000 students and Ohio State with about 45,000.

Who would have ever thought that my son would feel at home in such a big school. However, having had the opportunity to visit he knew that the school may be big, but it felt just right.

Finally, after mulling it over with us and spending time talking it over with Janice, who asked him some great questions, he came to his decision. Janice and Custom College Visits had done it again. My son has chosen to attend The Ohio State—a big school that he would have never applied to or fallen in love with, had it not been for the amazing professors and students he had the opportunity to meet.

One more son to go! Thankfully I have a few years before we have to go through this again—but I won’t even think about doing it without the help of Custom College Visits.

Diane B. parent of high school junior, Southern California

Janice’s true gift is planning the college tour!

Our college process was two-fold. It began with getting a jump start on the standardized testing, and not waiting until spring of junior year to focus. I believe our outcome was successful because we had a well-managed college plan helped along by an expert, Janice Caine, of Custom College Visits.

The primary focus of her business is to arrange college tours, really good ones, which is how we found her, but once we got into the process, I realized that she could help us with much more. Because the process is so stressful, I hired her to work with my son to research and refine his college list. They met and worked on it slowly over the course of a year. The list they started with was different than the final list, schools crossed off for various reasons and others added to keep it balanced between likely, 50/50 and reach options.

She interviewed me first, and then my son and they went to work together finding schools that met his requirements. We left it totally up to them and she emailed me occasionally to let me see the working list and show me where he was in the process.

“College” becomes a nasty word as you get deeper in, and having an independent buffer was very helpful, sort of like not tutoring your own child. She created a timeline and kept my son generally on schedule so I didn’t have to be the task master. She gave him schedules of when the schools on his list were coming to our area so he could attend the local info sessions for a first impression. I loved attending those with him, it was a great mother/son bonding experience and we always went out to lunch or dinner before or after to chat about our impressions. She only called me in if he didn’t respond to something she felt was important. They created a list of must haves and looked for schools that fit.

She encouraged him to include some schools on his list that were not too “reachy” for non-binding early admission applications. Not all schools offer early action, but many do, and spreading out the application deadlines is really helpful. Those should be to places they’d seriously consider going even if it isn’t the top of their list. The idea is, if they get accepted someplace early, a little of the pressure is off for the January round of applications where you can focus on the harder schools to get into. Knowing you are going to college makes that second round a little easier and if your grades are good fall of senior year, those will be factored into the GPA when the January applications go out.

Janice’s true gift is planning the college tour! I am a good planner but she really knows her stuff. Because our school doesn’t have a mid-winter break, we only had spring break and opted to see 6 east coast schools in 6 days. It was a long week, but another GREAT bonding experience! In addition to the standard campus tour and information session all schools offer, Janice arranged for him to meet students involved in his interest areas. We had lunch with them, he attended classes with them, he met professors in his subject areas during office hours, and we got a real up close and personal view of these schools. One of the students even invited him to see his real freshman dorm (not the staged one they show you on the tour) and his fraternity house.

My son’s first target was regional. Based on his grades and test scores he and Janice found three schools that met the criteria of likely, 50/50 and reach. He loved all three and would have been happy at any of them. He applied early where he could and because one school clearly stood out for him, he opted to give a binding early decision bid a try to his first choice school. If that didnt work in his favor, he was ready with several more good options for the January round. Fortunately for us, that early bid paid off and he didnt have to continue the process, but I am certain that he was prepared for whatever came next and would have had great choices in the end.

I find myself staring down the process one more time. My younger son is finishing his sophomore year in high school and we are ready to initiate his college search. Just like other families with more than one child, he is completely different than his brother, and Im certain we will learn lots of new things from his process. Fortunately, we will have Janice by our side!

Lisa L. parent of high school junior, Northern California

When You Need a Helping Hand… Call Janice!

Life is somehow extremely busy these days. There is no need to list all the things most people are involved in – there are so many. Throw in the work of college admissions and it can simply be overwhelming.

I credit our high school with having an amazing college counseling office. They really do work with the students in many ways. They don’t, however, actually arrange the college visits. For me, the logistics around mapping out the driving routes and air travel, setting up the visits and arranging for meetings with students made me want to pull my hair out.

But with Janice, all I had to do was spend time on a phone call with her and by the end of the next day, everything was done. Not just done but the entire experience working with her is professional, logical and thorough which gives you a piece of mind you just can’t put a value on.

Don’t stress, take a load off and allow for more enjoyment of college visits with your kids when you don’t have to worry about the admin and logistics work. Like that old L’Oréal commercial… trust me when I say… You and your budding college student are worth it!

Bonnie C. Parent of a high school student, New Jersey

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“You should work with Custom College Visits because you will be giving yourself and your family the gift of time. Janice made it feel like a very personal experience. Her connections are priceless. Give yourself a gift, have Janice schedule the itinerary.”

 

~ Michelle H, Parent of a high school student, San Francisco Bay Area
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“Happy New Year! Wanted to let you know that Charlie was accepted to Johns Hopkins Early Decision! Great news and very exciting all around. Thank you for all your help.”

~ Beth A, parent of a high school senior, Massachusetts
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We had a wonderful experience with Janice and Custom College visits. With Janice’s experience, attention to detail and understanding of our son’s strengths and weaknesses she led us through this confusing time with care and support. Highly recommended.

~ Carl Schurtz, Google Review
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It’s my third time using Custom College Visits… each time you improved on what I thought was already perfect.

~ Egbe O, parent of UK high school students
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A friend who is a maven in finding outstanding resources, recommended Janice and Custom College Visits as we began the daunting college selection process. We worked with Janice on two fronts; to help create a list of colleges and to set-up meaningful colleges visits. The college visits were also a lot of fun for us as a family and very informative on so many levels. More importantly Janice helped make the college selection process manageable, not so daunting after all, and we felt no stone was left unturned in this important decision!

 

~ Tracy P, parent of a New York City high school senior
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I really thought your custom college visits business would be so useful to parents of college bound kids, especially during the pandemic.

 

~ Daniel Gudema, Google Review
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“Thank you so much for organizing our College visit so excellently and hassle free. It was very informative and gave us a good idea about how studying in US is like. Various meetings organized with the faculty and current kids were very productive too. We loved your service. We will definitely get back to you next year when we might need another visit to be planned.”

 

~ R.G., Parent of a high school student – TTA Client
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All the college visits went smoothly. In addition to the school programs, the students and faculty members you connected us with contributed significantly to our visits. Your professional assistance, attention to detail, and responsiveness made our college visits a great experience. Thank you so much!

 

~ Michael C, parent of a high school junior, New Jersey
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