Hello, and welcome to the start of an amazing journey!
EMPOWER COLLEGE CONSULTING is dedicated to guiding families through the college admissions process, from picking schools to polishing essays. Hiring an independent educational consultant (IEC) as your college advisor reduces family stress and empowers your teen to thrive — through the entire process and beyond!
- -Where are you in the college application process?
- -Are you feeling overwhelmed or concerned about how to guide your student?
- -Do you have a timeline? (Complete the CONTACT form for my MILESTONES PDF!)
- -Is your teen a potential collegiate athlete hoping to be recruited?
- -Do you know if your teen’s Dream School is a “fit” academically (or for your budget)?
- -Where do you start with college essays? (Hint: complete the Activities Lists first.)
Regardless of where you are in the process, I’m here to help. My name is Lisa Harrison, and I’m a trained IEC located in Orange County, California, specializing in undergraduate admissions. I work remotely with all my clients regardless of locale. Whether you need specific advice, support for yourself while helping your teen through college admissions, or a professional to guide your teen through the entire process from A to Z, please reach out for a complimentary consultation.
The Empower Process
A STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE TO BETTER COLLEGE APPLICATIONS
Timeline: Winter & Spring, Junior Year (or ASAP for Rising Seniors)
We start the process by gaining INSIGHT. This includes evaluating your teen’s academic and extracurricular profile; discussing your family’s educational values, goals, concerns, and general budget; and reviewing student assessments (college readiness, personality, strengths/potential majors). In addition, my students complete Corsava, an activity to identify and prioritize college-related attributes, including location, academic culture, campus life, extracurricular activities, dorm living, and student resources. Based on our discoveries, the student and I develop an in-depth list of college criteria to guide the selection of colleges and outcome priorities. The goal of INSIGHT is for teens to gain a stronger understanding of themselves, what they want, and why each college they select is worthy of their application list.
Timeline: Spring, Junior Year (evolving to a final list by August)
To kick off the College Selection process, I take the student’s criteria list and dive into my data resources and knowledge base to pull approximately 30 initial schools that may be a “good fit” for the student. We start with a detailed spreadsheet, adding criteria columns relevant to each student. I teach my students to evaluate quantitative data and how to seek valid qualitative resources. (Tip: spend time navigating through the school’s website.) I expect students to research each school, and we meet regularly (weekly or bi-weekly) to discuss their learning and preferences, which evolve over time. Ultimately we develop a balanced, well-considered list of 12-15 schools by anticipated acceptance grouping (Safer, Fit, & Reach). As we move through College Selection, your student and I prioritize additional colleges to tour, which hopefully can fit into spring break or early summer vacations. We aim to have the College List close to completion in late spring of Junior year and finalized by August 1, when the Common Application opens. To help your student, I highly recommend visiting large university campuses and small liberal arts colleges early in high school. Discuss what your student likes and dislikes about each experience.
Timeline: Ongoing throughout the college application process
There’s so much more to a strong application than writing essays! From populating the application fields, requesting teacher recommendations, and editing the Activity List(s) to realistically assessing costs, maximizing merit aid, submitting financial aid forms, and strategizing the timing of submissions (Early Action, Early Decision, or Regular), I guide you and your teen through all the Application Essentials. Both public and private school applications request students to describe their extracurricular activities, leadership, and awards (on “Activities Lists”). These lists take longer to build and edit than expected, so we start early, before the essays. To research colleges, share documents, and track progress, students can access my easy-to-use online management system. For students who start with me during freshmen or sophomore year, my services include advice on selecting classes, summer experiences (which may involve summer school), and ways to gain leadership. Tip: Consider a new email for college applications and AP/SAT/ACT exam registrations.
Timeline: Summer & Fall, Senior Year
The entire application comes to life through impactful, insightful essays and short answer responses that highlight a student’s characteristics, experiences, and strengths. I abide by the professional ethics of HECA (the Higher Education Consultants Association), whereby students are expected to write their own essays (plus, there are no promises made about admission results). The foundation of the application is your student’s Activity List. We start the essay process by discussing what activities deserve more space in an essay or what’s not being told yet that the student wants to say. I provide strategic brainstorming on all the prompts, tips for succinct writing, help with outlining, coaching and guidance through the many drafts (including suggestions for clarification), and final proofreading on the four UC “PIQ” essays, the Common Application “Personal Statement” and all supplemental essays and short-answer responses (up to eight private schools with supplementals essays is included in the Comprehensive Package).
Timeline: Winter & Spring, Senior Year
After the last application is submitted, students, parents, and college advisors give a collective sigh of relief! I encourage students to check their application portals regularly following submission, as schools may request additional information or offer honors college applications. I also keep in touch as application decisions arrive. By March and April of senior year, I recommend your family attend “admitted student” days, so plan that time ahead, especially for out-of-state schools. This is also an emotional time for teens between the highs and lows of earning acceptance and facing a few disappointments. I offer advice, address unique questions that arise, and am happy to review any financial aid or merit/grant offers to compare the actual cost per year of your top choices. If your student has trouble choosing between two or three schools, I offer an exercise to help them make a confident decision. The National College Decision Day is May 1!
Results that Empower
Sample student acceptances reflect unique student goals:
- Arizona State University
- Boston College
- Boston University
- California Polytechnic, SLO
- Cal State Fullerton (CSUF)
- Catholic University of America
- Chapman University
- Claremont McKenna College
- Clarkson University
- Drexel University
- Elon University
- Eugene Lang College/The New School
- Fordham University
- George Washington University
- Loyola Marymount University
- Northeastern University
- Oregon State University
- St. Louis University
- Santa Clara University
- Stanford University
- Seattle University
- Syracuse University
- Tulane University
- University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley)
- University of California, Davis (UC Davis)
- University of California, Irvine (UCI)
- University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
- University of California, San Diego (UCSD)
- University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB)
- University of Oregon
- University of Redlands
- University of Seattle
- University of the Pacific
- Widener University
- Worcester Polytechnic Institute
- Yale University
Meet Lisa Harrison, Founder & Principal of Empower College Consulting
I founded Empower College Consulting after finding success and enjoyment in guiding our oldest child through the process in 2015. That journey started with a hundred yellow sticky notes in a Fiske Guide to Colleges book. Since then, I completed a seven-course certificate program as an Independent Educational Consultant (IEC) through UC Irvine, joined the Higher Education Consultants Association, toured over 30 schools, edited hundreds of essays, and officially launched Empower College Consulting. I thoroughly enjoy mentoring students through this transformative period in their lives and find it meaningful to share in their successful college launches!
My background includes an M.A. in communication theory/public relations from CSUF and a B.A. in psychology from Claremont McKenna College, where I competed in DIII swimming. Before raising children, I worked in marketing research and strategic communications for a national firm. College advising brings together my strengths of research, writing, editing, and a genuine connection with teens. I live in Orange County, CA, with my husband and our youngest of four, Foothill High School class of ’25, plus a bevy of pets. Higher education is a value in our family, one I’m excited to share with my teen clients who are just awakening –some reluctantly — to the amazing opportunities ahead!