William Porti is an independent educational consultant and the founder of My College Advisor He has six yeras of experience in college counseling and consulting, and he holds a degree in business from Pennsylvania State University.
Insights and advice
What inspired you to become a college couneslor?
Years ago, I worked as a financial advisor. It was apparent that most parents were not prepared for their students' college costs. 529 plans were always underfunded and they would have to liquidate mutual funds and even take money from their 401Ks plans. I started to study the college process and learned just how important finding that "best fit" school was—not just for academic success, but for college affordability.
What do you enjoy most about your position?
Working as an IEC allows me to make a difference in the lives of the students and the families that I work with. I especially enjoy talking to a student after they return from a college tour of a "hidden gem" school that they most likely never would have considered before.
What is the biggest challenge you face in your position?
Helping families understand the amount of time they need to devote to this process.
What are your top goals for the students with whom you work?
To find them a college where they will be an academic "rock star" and to make college affordable.
What is the one piece of advice you would give to college counselors who are new to the profession?
Take every opportunity to continue your education. The sands are always shifting, and you need to stay on top of what is happening in college admission.
What are some common misconceptions that student have going into the college admission process?
Most students think that college is going to be like high school. I think most students do not realize that magnitude of transitioning to college life.
Do you ever encounter situations in which students and their parents have different goals in mind? If so, what is your advice for helping them work together?
It's not unusual for differences of opinion (even among parents) [to arise] about what is best for the stuent. The key is to communicate and especially to listen.
Have you seen students successfully use social media as a tool in the college admission process? How do you advise students to edit their online presence?
If you would be embarrassed to have your grandmother see something on your social media accounts...it's a no-go! We do have a strategy for using social media in our college search and admission process.
What can/should a college counselor/consultant do to help students prepare for the SAT or ACT?
My job as a counselor is to show students the importance of their scores by giving them real-world examples of the differences in admission and financial aid opportunities with their current test scores, and then an improved test score. Then I give them the tools they need to prep for their next tests.
What is your strategy for helping students find financial aid?
With the high cost of college, financial aid is very important. I identify financial aid opportunities for students and work with them to position themselves at colleges that grant need and/or merit awards that will make college affordable for their families.
In your experience, what makes a counselor/consultant successful in his or her role as an editor of college application essays?
When it comes to essays, my job is to make sure the student is presenting his or her "best self" to the admission staff.
What is your process for helping students narrow down the list of schools to which they will apply?
We build our list without regard to cost. We focus strictly on "fit." Then we add a few schools where we are confident that we will have financial aid opportunities. Then we visit those schools and continue to refine our list by learning more about the schools and the opportunities at those schools. It is a long process, taking anywhere from six to 12 months.
In your opinion, what are some of the best ways that students can make themeselves stand out beyond their applications?
By demonstrating interest! We spend a lot of time demonstrating interest...in the right way!
Finish this sentence: On my first day of work as a counselor/consultant, I wish I had known...
...most of what I know now.
What would you consider your biggest accomplishment or your proudest moment as a college counselor/consultant?
Last year I had two students that were offered full tuition scholarships. It's a great feeling to have a parent shake your hand and thank you for a job well done.
Favorite book: Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
Favorite musician or band: Kenny Chesney
Favorite movie: Trading Places
Favorite quote: "Do something today that your future self will thank you for."
Favorite place you've traveled to: Eluthera in the Bahamas
Favorite meal: Steak and lobster
One super power you wish you had: Teleportation
Favorite college memory: Graduation day
Five people you would invite to a dinner party: Five families I've worked with
Your personal motto: "Always try to do what's best—even if it's not what's easy."