Navigating through the intimidating and confusing process that is applying for college is already a challenging task that faces high school seniors. Throwing an obstacle like COVID-19 in the mix only makes the situation harder, with hundreds of thousands of cancelled college campus tours and SAT exams, along with face-to-face meetings with school counselors now out of the picture.
These were among several reasons that inspired Rachel Goldberg, a senior herself, to take matters into her own hands and help make the process less daunting for her fellow classmates.
“The idea actually sparked that I could do something about it personally,” said Goldberg, “I didn’t have to just tell an adult.”
Under the Instagram handle @collegeadvice4teens, Goldberg offers a counseling service ‘by teens for teens.’ The account is a quick and easy way to get advice on all things concerning college applications, with visually attractive infographics and interactive features like countdowns and polls.
Posts are organized under a catchy schedule, including “Major Monday,” which lists the top colleges that offer the major’s program and “Testing Thursday,” with facts on SAT and ACT registration, along with scores to aim for. Application details are further explored on “Scholarship Sundays,” “Trivia Tuesdays,” “Writing Wednesdays” and “Fun Fact Fridays.”
“It was nice to be able to access a lot of information all in one place through fun, easy to read infographics,” senior Donna Nessleroth said.
The page also offers AP Test Prep books, new and lightly used, at reduced prices.
But Rachel’s service goes even deeper than the surface level, with hour-long online counseling sessions available for a rate of 20 dollars per hour. Through these private webinars, students can focus more on specific questions and set goals for themselves.
“It’s one-on-one [help],” Goldberg said. “Like where do you wanna go [to college] and how are you gonna get there?”
On average, college advisors cost about 200 dollars a session, or ten times the price Goldberg offers. Some packages with consultants can run up to about 6,000 dollars. Such an expensive service is not always viable for families, especially with education already being such a big investment. “Collegeadvice4teens” is an equivalent alternative for students to get the help they need without such a heavy weight on their pockets.
The project’s roots stem from Superintendent Robert Runcie’s mini town hall meeting at CCHS on January 30. Goldberg was part of a select few from the Class of 2021 who were invited to speak to the superintendent and ask questions.
“While I was there, the idea sparked that I wanted to say something about college prep because I was a junior at the time and I felt totally lost and confused and had no idea what I was doing.” Goldberg said. “So, I stood up and I said something.”
While Superintendent Runcie took all the concerns voiced into consideration and offered personal advice, it was during Goldberg’s time in quarantine that she decided to launch a method to help others in her own way.
“Her Instagram service is really helpful during this hard time.”Senior Sabrina Rihl
Of course, this meant rigorous training and preparedness, including scheduling a meeting with an expensive, experienced and professional college adviser. Goldberg took notes and asked questions on how he operates with students, runs his sessions and advises students in general.
Many hours were later dedicated during the summer into personal research, most notably evident in the weighty Google Drive folder Goldberg eventually filled with documents and information. The resources include real college essays posted online by real students that got them into their dream schools.
Goldberg’s goal at the end of the day is to tackle problems that stress students out, whether it be applying for scholarships, writing essays, filling out the Common App or starting completely from scratch and help prove that their goals are attainable. Talking one-on-one with a fellow teenager and classmate can help relieve anxiety and make students feel as though they are understood during the application process.
“The more help we can get the better,” senior Sabrina Rihl said. “Her Instagram service is really helpful during this hard time.”
On top of juggling all Advanced Placement and Cambridge Advanced International Certificate of Education (AICE) courses, two officer positions in clubs and the rigorous DECA program, Rachel Goldberg still makes time to do her part for high school seniors struggling as she once was. “Collegeadvice4teens” is an affordable and easy way to get ready, get educated and get motivated.
Photo courtesy of “Collegeadvice4teens” on Instagram