No, Zal doesn't stand for a legendary Iranian king. Zal is a twist on my maiden name, a quiet nod to my parents for their constant support over many, many years.
When should I start college planning?
College planning starts as early as ninth grade. I give guidance in planning your course work throughout the your high school years. Everything from deciding on which AP and honors classes to take to when you should take your SAT/ACT tests. These four years are crucial to your college admission process, taking hard classes that you're not ready for, may jeopardize your GPA but taking easy classes to keep up your GPA might make your transcript look weak. Planning one meeting every semester helps you stay on track.
Do you offer a guarantee of admission to colleges?
In a nutshell, no. Offering guarantees is prohibited by the Statement of Principles of Good Practice by the NACAC. I do not give any guarantees. Period. There is no secret formula, or secret handshake, or hidden back door that can be used for “getting students in", our job is to help your student make the most sensible college list, put together the best possible application they can submit; and then the college admissions office makes the decision on admission.
Why should I hire you? What's the difference between you and my high school counselor?
First and foremost, I'd like to say we're not here to displace your school counselor. You should take advantage of your school counselor and make sure you meet them at least once a year to stay on track. Your school counselor has a lot of information but due to the sheer number of students they help (the ratio is usually 350:1 or more) they might not be able to give you one on one counseling. It's your job to meet with them and get the information you need.
I try to work closely with our local high school counselors to make sure we're on the same page and helping our students as much as we can.
The benefit of hiring me, an IEC (Independent Educational Consultant), is that you have someone walking alongside you every step of the way and making sure you have ample time to work on deadlines.
How can you help me get financial aid?
I have helped many students through the whole process and will be there for you and your student as well. I'll keep you on top of deadlines and help you secure the best financial aid package available for your personal situation. Making sure you make each deadline and don't forget registration dates is what I do. Financial Aid doesn’t end when you’ve finished your paperwork, financial aid award letters can leave anyone confused. I’ll help you compare Financial Aid award letters to help you make an informed decision when finally choosing a college.
Will you write my essay for me?
No. The biggest mistake students make is getting too many proof readers reading their essays. While I recommend one or two eyes on your essay to guide you along the way, I do not write your essay for you nor do I excessively edit it. It's your essay and it should shed light on who you are, not your counselor or English teacher. I do offer guidance on topics, writing styles, etc to enhance your writing. Remember colleges want to get to know you and you're the only one who can convey that.
Do you counsel middle school students?
Yes, absolutely! I welcome middle school families to come and talk about electives and math placement. It's never too early to understand what you need to do to be prepared for high school.
I've also counseled a few younger students while they figure out which math courses to take in middle school. In today's competitive world, it's easy to get lost in the 'race'. But rest assured, I work closely with local school counselors and understand which middle school courses would be the best fit for our students. Call me to schedule an appointment to discuss how you should plan the middle school years to keep you on track for the high school years and beyond.
Can you help me find scholarships?
I plow through dozens if not hundreds of websites quarterly to find the best scholarships for my students. I'll help you get started on your scholarship search whether it be merit based or need based, so that you can save money, regardless of your financial situation.
What do I need to know about SAT/ACT testing?
While I'm not a tutoring service, I'll point you in the right direction as far as SAT/ACT tests go. You'll be surprised, you might not need to pay thousands of dollars! We'll plan out your junior and senior years in a way that will be most beneficial to you.
And finally..The question most often heard is 'How do I choose a college?'
Let me help you find the perfect match. I visit many colleges (and I go back annually) and can give you a first hand look at what each college has to offer you. I'll help you find your safe school and the colleges that are the best fit for you. I'll also help you choose a few 'dream' colleges that might be within your grasp!