What’s in a Name?

How did I land on Bell & Arch Consulting as the name that represents my business? It is tied to the fact that I want every student I serve to find their perfect fit school. My goal for my students is not just to get to college, but to get through college to graduation.

Bell refers to my graduate studies at The University of Tulsa where it is a tradition for students to ring the Kendall Bell in Bayliss Plaza after completing their last final exam as a TU student to mark their entry into the Alumni Association.

And arch? That is a nod to my undergraduate days at the University of Georgia. The tradition at UGA is that the famed arch that marks an entry to Old Campus must be walked around until graduation. Superstition has it that walking under the arch before you have a diploma in hand could delay or even prevent you from graduating or bring bad luck. It was a thrill to finally walk under the arch as a graduate of UGA on that early summer day of my graduation.

By helping my students thoughtfully build their college lists with schools where they will feel challenged but not overwhelmed by the academics, find like-minded peers that will become life-long friends, and identify schools that are affordable without incurring crippling debt, I offer parents peace of mind that they have performed due diligence and helped their child find a place where they can be happy and flourish all the way to graduation.

To do this work effectively, I must know colleges and how they meet the needs of their students. I spend hours researching schools for my clients and talking with them through the strong points and weak points of colleges as we form their lists. I am also committed to spending at least four weeks each year visiting campuses in person and meeting current students and admissions officers to understand the campus personality and the types of students that thrive in that environment. The admissions landscape is constantly shifting, and I stay informed on the latest information through these visits so that my families can make the very best decisions for their children.

I am also a member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA). This professional organization maintains a code of ethics which all members agree to uphold. I regularly participate in the IECA national conferences which are held twice a year. At these events, I hear directly from leaders in the field including college admissions officers and financial aid specialists. Through these conferences, I learn the latest trends in admissions and college campuses which I can share directly with my clients. In between these conferences, the IECA holds regular webinars including College Conversations with admissions officers across the country. I enjoy regularly attending these events and combing through the archived recordings to learn more about colleges of interest to my students.

Legend has it that Michelangelo, when he was 87 and painting St. Peter’s Basilica, said, “Ancora Imparo” – I am still learning. As a tour guide that I once spent a pleasant day in Florence told me countless times as she regaled me with one tale after another, “if it’s not true, then it should be true.” So, I think the same about my image of Michelangelo, a master of his craft at 87 saying with authority that his learning never ceased. I am a committed lifelong learner, and in addition to my doctorate degree and time spent teaching college students, I still want to know all I can to best meet the needs of every student I serve. This led me to enroll in the 15-month University of California Irvine Independent Educational Consultant Certificate Program. Next month, I will complete the program (with straight A’s I would like to add!). Meanwhile, I have been able to share with my clients the in-depth knowledge I have gained from my coursework in college admissions, summer programs, gap year programs, and financial aid.

I also participated in the IECA 2021 Summer Training Institute. This intensive summer program expanded my knowledge of college admissions and the profession even more, and my families benefit from my participation by having access to the latest information in the industry.

I scour the press daily to learn the current news about higher education, paying for college, and college admissions. This keeps me aware of trends as they are happening. I then share the relevant information with my families – not to overwhelm them, but to make sure they have all the data points they need to help their child make the very best decisions about their future.

Applying to college can be fraught with so many things to consider and so much to research and learn. I want to take the stress out of the process for the families I serve by providing them on-point, no-nonsense knowledge to guide their child to a successful application season, and even more importantly, to graduation from their perfect fit college.

Apply thoughtfully!