A Note From R.J.
Why I am passionate about what we do.
When I applied to college in 1999, I had no idea what I was doing. Like... not a clue. Neither of my parents had a college degree, and so although they were supportive, they were limited in how much they could help. I had a few high school teachers and a guidance counselor who seemed to know a lot, but they were overrun with students who needed exactly what I needed, and so they too could only help so much. The prospect of applying to college was already daunting; the prospect of doing it on my own scared the shit out of me.
Luckily, I had two cousins who had recently been accepted to competitive schools, and what I learned immediately was that even the tiniest bit of help from them and their parents - people who had just gone through the process, who knew something real about it, and who were prepared to be honest with me - was game-changing. Their perspective and advice were invaluable, and in many ways, I owe what happened next in large part to them.
I applied to Columbia University early decision and, miraculously, I got in. I'm still not sure why they accepted me - my reigning theory is that they needed a broke kid from Florida to round out the class - but they did. And it changed my life.
My years as an undergraduate student at Columbia - from 1999 - 2003 - were transformative for me, and comprise some of my fondest memories. Columbia is where I fell in love with the novels of Jane Austen and Edith Wharton; Columbia is where I flirted with (and then quickly abandoned!) the idea of becoming a research zoologist, and then a high school English teacher, and then a judge; Columbia is where I was taught to appreciate Medieval church music, French Impressionist art, and Ethiopian food; Columbia is where I indulged in a shameless and prolonged love affair with reading. They were good, full years… some of the very best of my life. They also set me up to go on to do the things that I subsequently did: to pursue my master's degree at the University of Cambridge in England, to pursue doctoral work in English literature at Harvard, and eventually, to return to Columbia as a higher education professional to support students working to achieve their own goals and chase their own dreams.
I know firsthand how important the decision of where you'll go to college is. I also know that the process of applying to college can be intimidating and confusing, and that there's a lot of poor information and misinformation out there. My goal is to combat these realities by helping you navigate the ins and outs of the process, by alerting you to potential pitfalls and working with you to avoid them, and by providing you with candid, quality assessment and information - all in the service of making the process of applying to college a less stressful, more successful, more valuable endeavor.
I look forward to helping you find your way to college, and toward your future.