Bespoke Education is pleased to offer the highest-quality college and graduate school counseling for students interested in applying to schools in the United States, Canada, and certain countries abroad.
Most students will find that spending even a few hours with our counseling staff to discuss school selection, applications, essays, and extracurricular activities makes a huge difference in how a student looks to the colleges or grad schools he or she is applying to. These meetings will also help both parents and students set reasonable expectations about which schools to consider.
It is important to emphasize that admissions at highly selective universities are subjective and vary widely from school to school. Bespoke cannot guarantee admission to any program. However, Bespoke’s highly skilled counseling staff can help students put their best foot forward and present themselves more fully as they go through the application process.
For younger students in Grades 9-10, college counseling can help them to understand what applying to college is all about and can help students and families consider academic and extracurricular paths in the years ahead. Older students in Grades 11-12 can receive assistance in choosing schools to apply to, considering which standardized tests they will need, and editing their applications and essays. For students in college who are considering graduate school programs, Bespoke’s grad school counseling will help with school selection, career planning, and applications.
Bespoke’s Philosophy and Mission
Last year, the most selective colleges – Yale, Harvard, Princeton, and Stanford to name a few – had roughly 35,000 applicants each for about 1,500 spots on each campus. What that means is that in most cases, a student applying to one of these “top” colleges had only a 5% chance of being admitted. It also goes without saying that once the 35,000 applications were whittled down to 5,000 or so, those remaining students probably all had top SAT or ACT scores (1500+ or 34+), strong academic records and diverse extracurricular activities. Less than one-third of those remaining applicants were admitted despite doing everything “right” and working hard to get the very best grades and test scores. The process is not always fair and can be quirky. That said, there are a tremendous number of outstanding colleges and universities, both here and abroad, where you are sure to be challenged intellectually, fit in socially, and receive excellent preparation for the professional world. It is important to cast a wide net when applying and to open up your mind to a wide array of schools and programs, some of which you might never have heard of.
The process of applying to college or graduate school can be an incredible opportunity for growth and a chance to discover what you are truly passionate about. It is a time of personal discovery and an occasion to research lots of places and educational programs to figure out where you will flourish and continue to grow over the next few years. It can also be a time of great anxiety, as you wonder where and how you will be accepted for who you are and what you have accomplished.
When we talk to admissions officers, it is clear that what they look for in applicants – and are very good at spotting, given that they read thousands of applications every year – is passion. Admissions officers are not easily fooled by an application showing a student who bounces from activity to activity just to impress others, or by a student who says on her application that she’d like to be an engineering major but has her lowest scores on her math SAT and doesn’t seek out science and math opportunities. More than anything, colleges want to see that applicants are consistent in doing the things they really enjoy and to which they have devoted considerable time and energy. These passions are the threads that hold together any successful application.
At Bespoke, we want to help students with their test preparation and their applications so that they can excel and have the ability to choose from a wide range of possible colleges or grad schools. At the same time, we want to work with our families to foster reasonable expectations and to have students be true to themselves so the picture that emerges on their applications is one of consistent passion and integrity.
Jenny Davis has evaluated thousands of college applications and helped hundreds of high schoolers and their parents navigate the college application process. She began her admissions career at the University of Chicago, where she served as Assistant Director, coordinated the merit scholarship selection process, and wrote several of the infamous “Uncommon Application” essay questions. After earning an MFA in creative writing, Jenny moved to New York City, where she has been a college counselor at one of the city’s most innovative private schools. She has led essay workshops and “essay boot camps” across the Northeast, has traveled to dozens of colleges and universities across the United States, and has worked with students both in the United States and abroad. Jenny has experience counseling students and families in person, by phone, via email and via Skype. Jenny feels that while the college application process requires significant discipline on the part of any student, it’s a terrific opportunity for discovery and reflection. She works hard to help students see the “big picture” and seek out environments that will foster their intellectual, emotional, and professional growth.
Jeff Dvorak has over 20 years of experience as an education professional. He grew up in Huntington, NY and holds a BA from the University of Montana. After college, Jeff spent many years teaching in and working with therapeutic wilderness programs and schools across the US. After receiving his Masters in Education Administration, he continued to work toward his doctorate in Special Education at the University of Massachusetts/Amherst. Jeff has held positions as a public school English teacher, as Assistant Principal for a special needs school in London, and as a college counselor for several San Francisco public schools. Jeff is currently an application reader and evaluator for UC Berkeley, where he evaluates thousands of college applications every year, and he has worked with dozens of families in the US and abroad to help them find the “best fit” for high school, therapeutic or special needs programs, and college or grad school.
Kirby Mosenthal grew up in Westchester County and graduated Magna Cum Laude from Denison University. She holds a Master’s Degree in School Counseling from Hunter College. Kirby combines her experience working in admissions at Denison with her current expertise as a high school guidance counselor to help students and parents through the college search, interview, application, and decision processes. Kirby employs a calm and thoughtful approach in facilitating family communication, planning, and organization throughout the college application experience.
Sidney Bridges attended Friends’ Central School in Philadelphia, received his B.A. in Psychology from Williams College, a Masters degree in English as a Lucie Wylie Scholar at Middlebury College, and a second Masters degree as a Joseph and Esther Klingenstein Fellow in Interdisciplinary Studies and Private School Educational Administration at Teachers College, Columbia University. As a dedicated instructor of English with over thirty years’ experience teaching English and composition in two independent schools in New York where he served more than a third of that time as English Department Chair, Sidney’s portfolio includes preparing AP English and International Baccalaurate HL (High Level) English students for written and oral examinations, tutoring students for SAT subject tests, the ACT, AP examinations, IB written and oral examinations, and strategic homework help organization. Sidney’s five years’ experience working in the College Counseling Office and three years’ tenure as the Head of the Upper School at Brooklyn Friends School makes him a terrific resource for families throughout the college process. Sidney provides comprehensive feedback on the college essay and supplements, and constructive support to students and families in researching appropriate schools while managing the pressure of ambitious students’ strong academic and extracurricular demands and commitments throughout the process.
Jenny, Jeff, Kirby, and Sidney can help with many things as you apply to college or university. A few areas of focus could include:
• The List: Not sure which colleges to apply to? Bespoke college counselors will help you create or refine your college list. We will help you find the best fit by interviewing the student and evaluating all testing, transcripts, extracurricular activities, and other materials to suggest good matches. We will create a list of schools that fit your education goals and where you would likely be accepted.
• The Application: The application process can be stressful, but Bespoke can help make the experience much more enjoyable. We can advise you in all steps along the way from meeting deadlines to creating great essays, including the completion of the Common Application. We will help you be the best applicant that you can be, which will give you the best chance of being accepted to schools on your list.
• FAFSA and Scholarship: Need help filling out and filing financial aid forms or looking for potential scholarship money? Bespoke can assist you in getting the money that you need to help pay for college.
Consider starting the process in 9th or 10th grade with just 2-3 hours of counseling so that we can get to know you as an applicant and advise you on summer programs, resume building, course selection in high school, and standardized testing.