A Preeminent Force in College Admissions Prep: PREMINENTE

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    It’s no secret that college admissions have become more competitive with each passing year, especially at the elite, top-tier universities. No longer is the 4.3 GPA student assured a spot, even if he/she posts a 1500 SAT, captains three sports, plays trombone in the marching band, and volunteers with multiple organizations. For the class entering in the fall of 2023, Harvard’s acceptance rate was 3.4% and Yale’s came in at 4.35%. Overall, the odds of being admitted to an Ivy League school last year ranged from approximately 3.4% to 8%, translating to as few as 1 in 30 applicants receiving a “congratulations letter” from one of the nation’s premier universities. 

    Compounding these statistics, application numbers continue to be at all-time highs, with UCLA recently receiving 145,904 applications and UC Berkeley recording 125,910. The Ivy League application numbers for the Class of 2027 ranged from 28,841 at Dartmouth (6% acceptance rate) to 71,164 at Cornell (7.3% acceptance rate). These figures are staggering, providing the explanation for why top students don’t get accepted into their top choice schools. So, who does get in? 

    I asked this question of Danielle Fazio, Founder and CEO of PREMINENTE, and an international leader in the college admissions industry. PREMINENTE has ranked in the top 10 of educational consultancies internationally for the past five years. The agency works with students in Pre-K through graduate school, focusing on expert academic advising, coordination of extracurricular activities and summer programming, and the application process for college, graduate school, private and boarding Pre-K – 12th grade. Fazio and her expert team of counselors and strategic partners have taken a distinctive approach to college admissions prep, focusing on students’ marketability to top colleges, graduate schools, and job opportunities.

    PREMINENTE team members, left to right Sherwyn Fullington, Drew Coyne, and Jill Finestone. Photo @alysonbarrowphotography for @tsgbergencounty

    PREMINENTE believes the key to securing that coveted acceptance letter is in developing and showcasing a uniquely personal and authentic profile. As PREMINENTE works one-on-one with students over the length of their academic careers, their team of experts helps to identify each student’s unique strengths and interests, guiding them in maximizing their experiences both inside and outside of the classroom. Through customized internship and career guidance, athletic recruitment counseling, and identifying specialty programs for summer or extracurricular enhancement, PREMINENTE counsels students to become well-rounded, focused, passionate, and knowledgeable. Key to the process is the prioritization of finding each student’s “right fit school” that will allow them to personally thrive and reach their fullest potential. 

    Team PREMINENTE has a wealth of experience working with students applying to college. What do you think it takes to be accepted into a top-tier university today?

    Gone are the days when being top of the class was enough to gain admission to a highly selective school. With application pools rising and acceptance rates dropping, there are too many students with similar credentials, and it is increasingly harder for applicants to differentiate themselves. 

    Colleges at every level are looking for students who are exceptional in their own way, demonstrating not only academic strength but also leadership, meaningful work, extracurriculars that showcase their passions, goals and social impact, and values that align with those of the school. As colleges and universities move toward more graduate level curriculum, it’s crucial that students are prepared for this level of rigor and multitasking. There’s also an emphasis on gaining professional experience and a marketable skill set much earlier, so the choice of major and minor, as well as securing professional summer internships are key.

    Through our tailored and customized approach, PREMINENTE guides each student in finding their calling much earlier and being able to demonstrate their unique contribution to the schools to which they’re applying. Our students enrich themselves through advanced coursework, passion projects, and targeted skills development.  

    This sounds like a Herculean challenge for a high school student, even with the help of their parents. How does PREMINENTE help to achieve this level of accomplishment?

    The breadth and depth of experience and expertise of the PREMINENTE team is truly what sets us apart in this process. Our counselors and strategic partners are former senior college and graduate school admissions officers from top-10 universities, educators, published authors and editors, tutors and test prep experts, entrepreneurs, lawyers, architects, career and life coaches, athletic recruitment and NIL specialists, and professional athletes. This means we can connect with our students on every level and customize our guidance to help them shine. 

    We also stand out in our industry by offering some of the longest, continuous services, beginning as early as Pre-K and day school applications and continuing with middle and high school advising, college admissions and counseling, internship and summer planning, graduate school and career coaching. This is an incredible asset to our students because in working with a PREMINENTE counselor early on in their academic career, they form a close relationship where our team truly learns what makes them tick and helps them to find the best avenues to discover, develop, and eventually showcase their passions and skills. 

    Our packages are customized for each student, based on their needs and goals. We pride ourselves on our concierge services; we ensure that no detail is overlooked and that every possible advantage is capitalized upon. This level of dedication to our students and their families alleviates much of the stress that is so often associated with adolescence, educational experiences, and the application process. Students can stay with us throughout their entire education and career journey, and many of them do! 

    Since you founded PREMINENTE more than twenty years ago, the company has maintained a set of core values that differentiate you in the marketplace of educational consultancies. What is PREMINENTE’s mission and why is this code so important?

    Our mission has been the same since day one: To assist students in finding their best educational environment, thereby allowing them to thrive and reach their fullest potential. Our core values and beliefs support that mission and we are committed to upholding them every day and with every student. Everyone at PREMINENTE is dedicated to always delivering the highest level of professional and ethical behavior, and all our client interactions are conducted in an open, transparent, and supportive manner. We fully embrace diversity and inclusivity, and foster a culture of honesty, respect, and integrity. We maintain an unwavering focus on quality and define success as finding the best fit for our clients. It’s no secret that our industry has had its share of ethical challenges in recent years, which is why our commitment to our clients and the institutions to which they are applying is so critical, and we will never stray from this code.

    Can you describe the PREMINENTE counseling process in a bit more detail?

    We provide the highest level of concierge service to our entire client base every year by dedicating the necessary time and resources to ensure each student’s satisfaction and success. We begin with an Initial Consultation Meeting (ICM) during which one of our counselors spends 60 to 90 minutes meeting with the student and parent(s) to learn as much as we can about the background, goals, and priorities of everyone involved in the process and decision making. The discussion focuses on future high school, college, graduate school and/or career plans. A suggested plan of action is determined at this meeting to suit the needs and goals of the student, and we work with each client to customize the advisement package within our vast slate of services and partner each student with a PREMINENTE counselor that will work best for them.

    You’ve mentioned PREMINENTE’s strategic partners. Can you share more about the role they might play in the admissions process?

    Our strategic partners are in many ways as critical to our students’ success as our in-house team of counselors. With authentic differentiation and clear goals central to choosing and being accepted to a right fit school, our partners are key to helping students stand out in a competitive application pool. 

    Amongst the industry experts we work closely with are premier tutoring and test prep services, a one-of-a-kind teen entrepreneurship incubator, renowned athletic recruitment and NIL specialists, and master career coaches. These partnerships are integral to customizing our services to meet each student’s needs, and our commitment to finding the right educational environment for our students to realize their dreams.

    How does PREMINENTE address the inequity that has been so central to the story of college admissions in recent years?

    PREMINENTE is committed to serving the communities in which we work. We are incredibly proud of our Urban Initiative Program through which we support schools, nonprofits, and private organizations by providing our services pro-bono. We also provide college counseling and academic advising to at-need students through strategic partnerships with organizations that sponsor first-generation college students and students from low income families for job and internship placement, as well as college placement and gap funding. We continue to improve upon how we best serve these students, including working with them on receiving scholarships and financial aid to alleviate their educational debt upon graduation.

    Finally, to what do you attribute PREMINENTE’s incredible success in helping students showcase their authentic personal brand?

    There is no single determining factor that ensures that a student will be accepted into their top-choice school, which is why our comprehensive concierge service is so valuable. Our counselors bring their vast experience to their work with every client, and they are committed to continually educating themselves about the application process and admissions trends. We ensure that our students are meeting with counselors who are experts on the particular aspect of the process that is most applicable, and we tap into the expertise of our other team members for the complete package. 

    We do everything in our power to take the stress out of the process, allowing our students to discover their passions and demonstrate their strengths. All our packages include academic advising and transcript evaluation, as well as planning and advising on class schedules, standardized tests, extracurricular activities, summer programs and internships. Counselors work with clients to create a school list that meets all criteria, and advise on applications from start to finish, including planning and preparation for campus visits and interviews.

    PREMINENTE does not define success solely in terms of acceptance letters. While we acknowledge that as a critical benchmark, we additionally strive to set our students on a path to realizing their personal passions and professional goals in an enriching educational environment. Our students are creative, inspired, bright and resourceful; we want to inspire them to make a positive impact in the world. It is our job to ensure that they have every opportunity to tell their unique story to the school, to help make their dreams a reality. 

    Visit www.preminentecounseling.com for more information.

    Photos courtesy of PREMINENTE and Unsplash



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