Options Solutions Frequently Asked Questions:
What do you DO?
Options Solutions is a full service educational consulting company that helps students, ages 14-24, make a broad range of educational decisions. We help all students! With our assistance, students have gained acceptance to McGill, Harvard and Cambridge, but equally as important, they have also gained admission to their dream colleges, professional, culinary and trade schools. We welcome all students and their families to our practice. Our main areas of expertise include: adolescent career counselling, post-secondary advising (including Canada, US and the UK), and educational support services (study skills, essay writing, etc). We also assist student athletes and provide comprehensive SAT/ACT prep.
My child has no idea what he/she wants to do- do you help with that?
Yes, we offer a broad range of personality, interest and career surveys. These tools help students explore: who they are, what careers/occupations are right for them, what they want to study, and what school environment is the best fit. Your consultant will recommend appropriate surveys based on your student’s age and objectives.
What is the “red binder”?
The “red binder” is unique to Options Solutions. Each student is given a “red binder” at their initial session. All important information is included in the “red binder”: from study tips to personal goal statements to application deadlines and resource lists. The “red binder” holds it all. As students use our services, a road map of their journey is constructed through our “red binder” system. Additionally, the binder is useful as an interactive communication tool between parents and students. Students are asked to bring their “red binders” to each session.
What is a good age to bring my child in for an appointment?
For most students, we recommend they begin the exploratory process in the middle of grade ten. This allows them to do some pre-thinking before they have to pick their school courses for grade 11. This is also the time many students start wondering about life after high school and is a nice complement to the work they are usually completing in Planning 10 class. If your student is interested in attending a US institution, we recommend they begin in grade 9. The US process starts far earlier than the Canadian process does.
How many times will you need to see my child?
This is one of the most asked questions and also the most difficult to answer. The number of sessions is dependent on a student’s goals. Career and interest counselling usually requires two to three sessions. Creating a list of Canadian universities based on interest usually takes two sessions. As a general rule, we encourage grade 12 students to have an appointment each month in grade 12 to ensure the process is handled in a timely and efficient manner. After your initial session, your consultant will be able to give you an accurate recommendation for appointment scheduling.
When should we book appointments?
Please remember that some of our consultants have a long waiting list for a first appointment. It is best to call immediately when you are considering our services to have our experienced staff guide you in appointment scheduling. Please don’t wait to the point of crisis (the night before a deadline) to call for an initial appointment.
THE INITIAL SESSION
What is covered in the first session?
The first session serves as an introduction and discovery session. The objectives include: introductions, background gathering, boundary and value setting, establishing student objectives/goals, and the construction of an action plan. Each initial session has a basic structure to it but is also customized to the client’s individual needs. Your consultant will always ask, “What is our objective for today?” at the beginning of the session and will be sure that each student leaves with an individualized action plan of next steps. Please also advise our front desk staff of specific topics you would like covered in your initial appointment, when you call to make an appointment.
How long is the first session?
We prefer the first session is an hour long. We find this the most appropriate amount of time to complete the above tasks. We are happy to schedule a half hour first session if requested.
What should we bring to the first session?
A copy of the student’s most recent report card is a good place to start. We also love to see resumes and activities profiles to help showcase all dimensions of a student. Also, feel free to email any background information you feel is important for a consultant to review before the session. If a student is interested in US institutions, it is most helpful to bring along their full academic record since grade 9.
Should the parent (parents) attend the first session?
This is a family decision. We encourage parents to attend the first session, as this is where boundaries and values are set. We also realize that some students want to handle this process on their own and that tensions can run high in families with adolescents. No matter what you decide as a family, we value communication. Parents are always welcome to communicate with their consultant via phone and email. We also encourage families to review the Action Plan in the student’s “red binder” after each session in order to be involved and to help oversee the process.
How does payment work?
We ask that you pay after each session. We accept cash, cheques, Interac, Visa and Mastercard. For group sessions, we ask that you pay in advance. Please note that Options Solutions has a strict 24-hour cancellation policy for all individual and group sessions.
WHAT TYPES OF STUDENTS USE YOUR SERVICES?
Do you help students with learning challenges?
Absolutely, we do. We have had great success placing students with learning challenges in appropriate educational institutions. We look at this as a team-based process and are happy to work in conjunction with your student’s existing advocacy team. We also help many students whose families are frustrated by a lack of resources for their student’s individual learning challenges. Please bring your student’s IEP and Psycho-educational testing to your consultant before your first appointment. We also assist students with supplementary services to help navigate their needs; including goal setting, Study Skills and Essay Writing group sessions. We encourage students to continue with their recommended accommodations while in post-secondary institutions and help them register with the appropriate organizations on campus.
My student doesn’t have straight A’s, do you help non-Honour Roll students?
Absolutely, we do. Even though the press has highlighted how difficult it is to get in to university these days, not all places are ultra-competitive. Many are accessible and appropriate for students with B and C averages. Also, many colleges just require graduation to attend. We also help students assess their motivation, study skills and executive functioning in order to be sure they know how to “work smart” and make the most of their study time in order to set a solid foundation for post-secondary study.
Do you meet with students who have graduated from high school or currently attend post-secondary institutions?
Absolutely, we do. We recognize that every student has his/her own timeline. We are happy to meet with anyone under the age of 24 in order to help them assess their career and educational options and paths. In fact, one-quarter of our client base has already left the high school environment before their initial appointment. This service can be very valuable both for students not in a formal environment, but considering it, and those already enrolled but lacking concrete direction.
If my child is not looking at traditional universities, is this a good fit?
Absolutely, it is. This past year, we helped students in many different areas, beyond the scope of a traditional university. Options Solutions has placed students in trade, professional and special interest schools (such as trades, culinary, make-up) all over the Canada and the world.
What other services do you offer?
Options Solutions offers a wide variety of services. We assist students with getting organized through Study Skills and Exam Studying Sessions. For grade 12 students, we offer support for the application process by helping with applications and their required supplements (the pesky writing requirements). We offer a plethora of Writing and Essay Writing Workshops throughout the year. Many students take advantage of these services in a one-on-one setting with their individual consultant, but others get help by attending our dynamic weekend group sessions. Additionally, we offer Provincial, PSAT, SAT and ACT test prep. Our PSAT, SAT, and ACT test prep is truly unique. It is individualized to each group of students and focuses equally on content and strategy.
Do you offer SAT/ACT/PSAT prep?
Absolutely, we do. Our prep sessions are unique. We do not subscribe to a drill and kill method; instead, we focus on our students’ understanding of the exam, test taking skills, and curricular knowledge. Acing an exam requires a mastery of ALL THREE of these areas. Because our sessions are small and individualized (each section is prepped in advance to be tailored to the students’ needs), our students receive assistance in exactly what they require to improve their scores. We do not use scan-tron forms or formulaic approaches.
Do you help with applications?
Absolutely, we do. Application season (October-February) is very busy at our office. We offer a variety of services to support our students through the post-secondary application process. Many universities require extensive application supplements, which include activities profiles and essays. We assist in guiding students through the specific writing requirements in a variety of formats. Our Writing professionals have specific admission and educational writing experience.
What about help with US applications?
The US application process is extensive, exhausting, and intimidating. We help our students break the overwhelming process into small action steps. We help with all aspects of the US application; from the pieces of the Common Application to the University of California Personal Statements. We believe the most successful applications are authentic, themed, and succinct. We help our students create a quality, dimensional application.
Do you do interview prep?
Yes, we do interview prep. Options Solutions has worked with a network of alumni to understand the purpose and perspective of the admissions interview. We help students prepare for their big interview day through self-reflection, practice, and coaching. We are happy to assist with US, UK medical/law, and graduate school interviews.
A selection of institutions that Options Solutions clients have been accepted to include:
Canadian Universities and Colleges:
Acadia, University of Alberta, BCIT, Bishops, University of British Columbia, University of British Columbia – Okanagan, University of Calgary, Capilano University, Carleton University, Concordia, Dalhousie, Emily Carr, Fanshawe College, University of Guelph, Humber College, Huron, University of King’s College, Kwantlen, Langara College, McGill, McMaster, Mount Allison University, OCAD, University of Ottawa, Queen’s, Ryerson, Simon Fraser University, Thompson Rivers University, University of Toronto, University of Waterloo, University of Western Ontario, Wilfred Laurier, University of Victoria, York University
American Universities and Colleges:
Amherst, Bentley, Berkeley, Boston College, Bowdoin, Brown, Cal Tech, Carleton, Carnegie Mellon, University of California (all campuses), Chapman, University of Chicago, CMC, Colgate, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, University of Denver, Duke, Emory, Georgetown, Harvard, Harvey Mudd, Haverford, Johns Hopkins, University of Michigan, Middlebury, Northwestern, Notre Dame, NYU, Oberlin, Occidental, University of Pennsylvania, Pepperdine, Pomona, Princeton, Reed, Rice, University of San Diego, Santa Clara, Scripps, Smith, Stanford, University of Southern California, Swarthmore, Syracuse, Texas A&M, Tufts, Vanderbilt, Vassar, University of Virginia, University of Washington, Washington University (MO), William and Mary, Williams, Yale
UK Universities and Colleges:
Cambridge, Cardiff, Durham, Edinburgh, Exeter, King’s, St. Andrew’s, UCL, Warwick