Wednesday, April 17th, 2019


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. With our assistance, students have gained acceptance to some of the world’s premier educational institutions, including Cambridge, Harvard, LSE, McGill, Oxford, Princeton, Stanford, UBC, U of Toronto, and Yale, 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, the US, and the UK), and group educational support services (workshops for study skills, essay writing, etc). We also assist student athletes and provide comprehensive SAT and ACT prep.

My child has no idea what he/she wants to do – do you help with that?

We offer 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”?
red binder

The “Red Binder” is unique to Options Solutions. Each student is given a red binder during his/her 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 red 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 10. 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 their Planning 10 class. If your student is interested in attending a US institution, we recommend they begin the process in grade 9, as 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, based on our “Suggested Number of Appointments” document.

What is covered in the initial session?

The initial 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 also is 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 or e-mail to make an appointment.

How long is the first session?

We prefer the first session to be an hour long. We find this the most appropriate amount of time to complete the above tasks.

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 (eg. IEP, Psycho-educational assessment, etc). 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 student’s consultant via 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 require full payment after each individual session. We accept Visa, MasterCard, Interac (debit), cheques or cash.  For group sessions, we require full payment in advance to secure a spot in the session. Please note that Options Solutions has a strict 48-hour cancellation policy for all individual and group sessions, and that any individual or group session cancelled fewer than 48 business hours in advance with be assessed the full cost of the session.

Do you help students with learning challenges?

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 into 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?

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 school environment but considering it and for those already enrolled in school but lacking concrete direction.

If my child is not looking at traditional universities, is this service a good fit?

Absolutely, it is. Over the years, we have 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 art, beauty, culinary, fashion, performance) 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 Final Exam Preparation workshops. We offer a series of English Essentials workshops to help students master the tenets of good writing and communication. For grade 12 students, we offer support for the application process by helping with applications and their required writing supplements (Writing and Application workshops). Some students take advantage of these services in a one-on-one setting with their individual educational consultant or with a writing coach, but others get help by attending our dynamic group workshop sessions. Additionally, we offer Provincial, SAT, ACT, PSAT, SSAT, and SAT Subject exam prep. Our SAT, ACT, SSAT and Provincial exam 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?

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 scantron forms or formulaic approaches. We utilize our own private label SAT and ACT books that cannot be purchased in bookstores and that are used in top US prep schools.

Do you help with university applications?

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 and/or UK university applications?

The US and UK application processes are 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, and all aspects of the UK application, from the UCAS personal statement to interview prep. 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.

In the past two school years, our students were accepted at every Ivy League school.


Canadian Universities and Colleges: University List

Acadia, University of Alberta, BCIT, Bishops, University of British Columbia, University of British Columbia – Okanagan, Brock University, University of Calgary, Capilano University, Carleton, 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, Mount Royal University, NSCAD, OCAD, University of Ottawa, Queen’s, Quest, University of Regina, Ryerson, University of Saskatchewan, Simon Fraser University, St. Francis Xavier, Thompson Rivers University, University of Toronto, Trent, University of Waterloo, Western, Wilfred Laurier, University of Victoria, York

American Universities and Colleges:

Amherst, Babson, Barnard, Bentley, Berkeley, Boston College, Boston University, Bowdoin, Brandeis, Brown, Cal Lutheren, Cal Tech, Carleton, Carnegie Mellon, University of California (all campuses), Chapman, University of Chicago, Claremont Mckenna, CMC, Colgate, University of Colorado – Boulder, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, University of Denver, Duke, Emory, Fordham, George Washington, Georgetown, Harvard, Harvey Mudd, Haverford, University of Indianapolis, Ithaca, Johns Hopkins, Julliard, Loyola Marymount, Marymount Manhattan, University of Michigan, Middlebury, MIT, UNC – Chapel Hill, Northeastern, Northwestern, Notre Dame, NYU, Oberlin, Occidental, U Penn, Pepperdine, Pomona, University of Portland, Princeton, Purchase, Reed, Rice, Rutgers, University of San Diego, Santa Clara, Sarah Lawrence, Scripps, Smith, Stanford, USC, Swarthmore, Syracuse, Texas A&M, Tufts, Vanderbilt, Vassar, University of Virginia, University of Washington, Washington University – St. Louis, Wheaton, William and Mary, Williams, University of Wisconsin, Yale

UK & International Universities and Colleges:

Aston University, Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Cambridge, Cardiff, Durham, Edinburgh, Exeter, Glasgow, Imperial College, King’s College London, London School of Economics (LSE), Manchester, Melbourne, Nottingham, NUI Galway, Oxford, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Royal Veterinary College, St. Andrew’s, University of Aberdeen, University of the Arts London, University of Bath, University of Bournemouth, University of Bristol, University of Central Lancashire, University College Cork, University College London (UCL), University of Sheffield, University of Southampton, University of Sussex, Warwick