College Guidance Recommendatio​n

This week I have interviewed a colleague of mine, Alice Lissarrague. Alice is a certified educational planner, and she helps students and parents navigate the college admissions process. 


While she lives in Shelburne, VT, she works with clients in other states and even other countries thanks to the magic of the internet. She’s been doing college guidance within a high school since 2011, and she is currently the college guidance counselor at Lake Champlain Waldorf High School in Shelburne. 


You can visit her website,, to read testimonials and detailed information about each of her college guidance packages. 


Katrina: You just received certification as an educational planner. This is a big deal; tell us why.


Alice: Quite a few people bill themselves as college consultants, but I wanted to set myself apart. The average college consultant who is not in the school system does not get this certification. I’m always educating myself, and I wanted to achieve the highest level of professional achievement that I could. 


Katrina: There are not many certified educational consultants in the country, correct?


Alice: There are only 250 in the country. In Vermont, there are only five.


Katrina: What were the requirements?


Alice: You have to have a master’s degree, recommendations from admission professionals, have visited a particular number of college campuses and have worked at least five years in the field. I also took a four-hour exam.


Katrina: What kinds of students do you work with?


Alice: I work with a wide range of students; performing artists, athletes, National Merit Scholars . .  I have a specialty designation for working with students with learning differences. I have also worked with a number of first-generation students. 


Katrina: What age do you typically start working with students?


Alice: I mainly work with sophomores and juniors. Depending upon my availability I will take on a few seniors. I also work with college students who want to transfer.


Katrina: What is your package for sophomores? 


Alice: I offer them a two-session package. We talk about the courses for the upcoming semester, what extra-curriculars to take, and we also talk about summer. I can help them put a resume together. It’s proven to be a nice segway into the program for juniors.


Katrina: Many of the students you work with are juniors.


Alice: Yes. I love getting students in junior year because we have the advantage of time in front of us. 


One package for juniors helps them create a list of schools so that by the end of junior year they have a really good list of 10 to 15 schools that they will apply to in the fall. They should enter their senior year with a strong list of schools and feel confident about that. We create a list based on their strengths, interests and often financial need. 


The second package is 10 sessions. We will do interview prep, create a resume for a summer job or internship, and research ideas for the summer of junior year. I provide tutor recommendations and test prep ideas, and help them figure out which teachers they will ask for recommendations. I give them total support during the application process, including the essay, the Common App, supplements and applying for financial aid. I coach them on how to talk to the admissions person at the college or university. This package actually sees them through first semester of college. 


Katrina: What about last-minute seniors?


Alice: Senior packages include creating a basic list of colleges and support for the student through the application process. 


Katrina: Financial aid can be one of the scary parts for the parents. How do you assist them with that piece?


Alice: When I create lists for students, I take their financial situation into account. For those who don’t qualify for financial aid I will look at where they may be most likely to get a merit award. 


Katrina: You do a lot of campus visits and I know you feel it’s an important part of your job.


Alice: I’m able to take the time to visit the schools when classes are in session, which is a huge help in getting a true sense of a college. I’ve visited about 110 campuses in the US, and most of these are in-depth visits.


Katrina: What else sets you apart?


Alice: I am a trained teacher and I have worked with teens for many years. I am used to working with teens in a school setting, and I appreciate how important it is to create an environment that strives to alleviate the anxiety inherent in this process. I help kids find their inner strengths and appreciate themselves for who they are. 


If you have a student on their way toward the last few years of high school, and you'd like some help with the college application process, Alice is a wonderful resource, as you can see. If you connect with her, please let her know you heard about her excellent work in this newsletter!