When asked what prompted him to launch Chapman College Admission Consulting, Mike Chapman rattles off several worrisome statistics: The student to guidance counselor ratio in Ohio is 500 to 1; Acceptance rates at the most selective colleges are less than 10 percent; A four-year college education can cost well over $100,000.
Stats like those made Chapman question whether guidance counselors at medium to large-sized public schools provide the one-on-one advising students need to maximize their chances of getting accepted to their top-choice colleges and winning scholarships.
“In most cases, the answer is absolutely not,” he says. “It’s usually not the guidance counselors’ fault they can’t provide students with the attention they require, however. In addition to college advising, they have to deal with behavioral issues, mental health issues, and a variety of other administrative responsibilities. With school district budgets tightening as of late, this situation is only going to get worse in the foreseeable future.”
That’s where Chapman comes in.
The company works with clients in grades 8 through 12, and offers a variety of college enrollment services, including creating customized college-planning and admission action plans, essay coaching, ACT/SAT tutoring, scholarship searches, student-athlete marketing, resume drafting, interview coaching, and career advising.
“The college experience is more than just getting some letters behind your name and the ability to get a decent job,” Chapman says. “It also includes intellectual and social development, in addition to maturing into an adult. It’s rewarding to connect young adults to higher education knowing they will reap the aforementioned benefits.”
To learn why Chapman isn’t rushing to sign clients, what he’d like Chapman College Admission Consulting to become, and how the company plans to help one Ohio high school junior next year, keep reading.
The Metropreneur: You have 10 years of professional experience in higher education administration. Where did you work and what did you do exactly?
Mike Chapman: I’ve worked as an admission counselor at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. I’ve worked in the financial aid office at Ohio State University in Columbus and, most recently, I’ve been working as an admission counselor at a two-year college in Central Ohio. Prior to those experiences, as an undergraduate at Miami, I worked in the areas of new student programs and student development, in addition to serving as student body president during my senior year.
[M]: You’ve said Chapman works with a limited number of clients. Is that intentional?
MC: Yes, very intentional. Ohio’s student to Guidance Counselor ratio is about 500 to 1. As reported in The New York Times, the American School Counselor Association considers an optimal student to guidance counselor ratio as 250 to 1. The National Association for College Admission Counseling sets the bar a little higher and considers an ideal student to guidance counselor ratio as 100 to 1.
At Chapman, the student to enrollment strategist −our version of a guidance counselor, but they only do college advising− ratio is never more than 50 to 1. Additionally, all our enrollment strategists do nothing but college admission advising, unlike high school guidance counselors who have to deal with an array of other responsibilities. So by intentionally limiting the number of clients we take on, we can offer students a level of personalization that is unparralelled in public schools.
Some people have said to me, “Mike, you’re hamstringing your growth and scalability opportunity by limiting your caseloads to 50 students per enrollment strategist.” My response is “So what.” It’s not our vision to be the next Kaplan or Princeton Review. We want to be Central Ohio’s undisputed leader in providing personalized college admission consulting services. Bigger is not always better, especially with respect to college advising.
[M]: Is there anything else you think we should know?
MC: Yes, four other things.
One of the things people most often want to know about my company’s services is “How much?” Candidly speaking, they aren’t cheap, but cheap is a relative term. For instance, if I help a student identify and then get accepted to the college of their dreams, what is that worth to the student and their parents? If I help a student win a full-tuition scholarship of $25,000, what’s a few thousand dollars in fees? That’s a pretty good investment.
Related to costs, even though our primary clientelle is uppermiddle and upper class families, we take on one pro-bono client per year. To be considered as our annual pro bono client, the student has to have an outstanding record of academic and extracurricular achievement, and verify a household adjusted gross income of less than $40,000 per year.
We are putting on a scholarship competition that will officially launch in early March 2012. The Ohio Here To Stay Scholarship is a $5,000 scholarship that will be awarded to a current Ohio high school junior who commits to enrolling at one of Ohio’s four-year colleges beginning in Fall 2013 and pledges to work or attend graduate school in Ohio upon graduating from college. The scholarship is meant to recognize and reward a student who is truly passionate about being an Ohioan, and will contribute their talents and abilities to Ohio while in college and beyond.
To apply for the scholarship, students will have to create and submit a two-minute or less video showcasing why and how they are passionate about Ohio. These videos will be posted online and the applicant whose video receives the most votes from the general public between June 1 and July 31 will be declared the winner.
In addition to our packages of services, we also run ChapCamps three times per year during summer, winter, and spring break. These are intensive two-day workshops for high schoolers and they’re basically like a college admissions boot camp. Students will graduate from ChapCamp having completed an in-depth analysis and advising session regarding their college-planning and admission goals, one high-quality college admission essay, and a rigorous scholarship search that identifies at least one scholarship they are eligible for.
Lastly, we provide no pressure/no obligation, free consultations to any families interested in learning more about our services and how we might be able to help them.
To learn more about Chapman College Admission Consulting, visit ChapmanCAC.com.