Frequently Asked Questions

college admissions faqs
What does Top Tier Admissions® do?

Dr. Michele Hernandez and Mimi Doe cofounded Top Tier Admissions®, previously called Application Boot Camp® LLC, after publishing their best-selling book, Don’t Worry: You’ll Get In in 2005. Top Tier Admissions®, is a company devoted to empowering students from around the world in the college and graduate school admissions process and offers the internationally acclaimed Application Boot Camp®, intensive four-day program for students entering their senior year of high school. This annual event has been featured in BusinessWeek, The New York Times, Forbes, The Huffington Post and other media. Students have the opportunity to work directly with Dr. Michele Hernandez, Mimi Doe, Dr. Kristen Willmott, Maria Laskaris, and our many wonderful senior counselors and test tutors to leverage their experiences to create applications that rise above the rest.

Are Top Tier Admissions®, Application Boot Camp® and Hernandez College Consulting the same company?

Yes indeed. Dr. Michele Hernandez founded Hernandez College Consulting in 1997. In an effort to reach more students, she and Mimi Doe launched Application Boot Camp® in 2005 to provide complementary services and products for students in middle school through graduate school. The merged version of both companies is now Top Tier Admissions®.

Where are you located?

Top Tier Admissions® has offices located in Concord, MA, just outside of Boston, and in Weybridge, VT just outside of Middlebury, VT. Our clients are from around the world and our summer Boot Camps for rising seniors are held in Boston, Massachusetts.

What grade levels do you work with?

We begin in 8th grade through graduate school (master’s and doctoral programs). We’ve also partnered with the nation’s best standardized test tutors to offer ACTSATSubject TestAPGRELSAT and GMAT prep.

What is the Application Boot Camp® program at Top Tier Admissions?

Many have tried to replicate it - but ours was the first and continues to be the only successful four-day intensive program for high school students entering 12th grade. Registration opens in the fall each year (when students are juniors - though we also have an early sign-up option for sophomores). We hold Boot Camp over a four-day timeframe in Boston, MA every August. As soon as a student registers they receive our in-depth Personalized Admissions Report. During the four days of Application Boot Camp students work one-on-one and in small groups to review and finalize the Common Application; prepare multiple essays using our proactive system, develop an application strategy to increase college acceptance possibilities, receive advice on their odds at targeted colleges, complete an activity sheet to submit with the Common Application, and take part in interview training. Participants in the Application Boot Camp program receive access to our Membership Site, a Personalized Admissions Report, phone conference with Mimi or Michele, copies of The Ultimate Guide to Top High School Summer ProgramsThe Ultimate Guide to Top High School Contests and Awards, all recorded virtual workshops and four days of in-person admissions consulting at Boot Camp.

I’m not located in the northeastern U.S. Can I still use your services?

Absolutely. Our students hail from around the world and we work in person or remotely via Skype, phone or email. Most of our programs are distance-based as we find it to be efficient and an excellent match with students’ busy schedules. Our students who work with us remotely have proven to be equally as successful as those who meet with us in person. All of our staff, including our Senior Counselors, are trained and have extensive experience not only working with students and knowing the “admissions ropes,” but working effectively with students from afar when needed.

Do I need to apply to work with Top Tier Admissions®?

We welcome the opportunity to work with all students and their families and we work on a first-come, first-served basis. We typically sell out of our comprehensive consulting packages including our annual August Boot Camp® programs for rising high school seniors and our one-on-one direct consulting packages. Our students represent many different academic, extracurricular, and cultural backgrounds. Each student has unique goals and we focus on finding the college or graduate school that will be the best academic match and social fit for each individual student. Our objective is to maximize students’ college and graduate school choices.

Can you work with students on nights and weekends?

We have varying schedules so that we can be as accommodating as possible. Our office hours are officially Monday through Friday, 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM Eastern Standard Time (EST). However, we often arrange evening and weekend appointments as well. We pride ourselves on our accessibility and we are often available during major holiday and school breaks.

Do Dr. Michele Hernandez, Mimi Doe, Dr. Kristen Willmott, and Maria Laskaris work directly with students?

Yes, Dr. Michele Hernandez, Mimi Doe, Dr. Kristen Willmott, and Maria Laskaris work with middle school and high school students; however, they take on only a limited number of students each year through their one-on-one packages. They also work with all rising seniors in our summer four-day Application Boot Camp program. Dr. Kristen Willmott also works directly with graduate school applicants (law school, MBA, PhD, Master’s). Please contact us to enquire about availability for your student. Regardless of whether Michele, Mimi, Kristen, or Maria works personally with your student, we can assure you that all of our staff members, including our Senior Counselors, undergo rigorous and regular admissions training and preparation. Our clients receive personalized one-on-one guidance, and also benefit from the collective knowledge of our entire team.

Why is it important that I look for a consulting firm with staff members who have actual admissions office experience?

We encourage all of our clients to conduct a thorough review of admissions consulting firms. We think it’s imperative that families ask questions about whether the admissions consulting firm they are considering has staff members with actual hands-on admissions experience at a competitive college. Having excellent writing skills or a business background is not enough when it comes to helping applicants prepare top admissions applications. Unfortunately, few admissions consultants have actual college admissions experience and some of our peer consulting companies state that their staff members have experience working in a college admissions office  –but not as admissions officers who actually reviewed applications. It’s not enough to be a volunteer alumni interviewer or to have a clerical job in an admissions office. Admissions experience is essential. Dr. Michele Hernandez has four years of experience working as an Assistant Director of Admissions at Dartmouth College, Dr. Kristen Willmott has four years of experience working as an Admissions and Financial Aid Officer at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University and Maria Laskaris, former Dean of Admissions & Financial Aid at Dartmouth was the longest standing Dean at any Ivy. Our admissions experience allows us to review our clients’ applications with a true admissions officer’s perspective.

Why do I need an outside college consultant?

Recent United States Department of Education statistics indicate that U.S. public high school students receive an average of 38 minutes of personal advising on college admission and there is an average ratio of 476 students to every 1 high school college counselor. Also, over 40% of U.S. public and private high school students hire a college consultant to assist with at least one aspect of their admissions applications. We feel that personalized one-on-one admissions consulting has become a necessity when it comes to top college or graduate school admissions and acceptance because there are so few spots at the most competitive programs.

Some of your packages are known for being somewhat expensive. Are they really worth it?

Top Tier Admissions® does indeed offer some packages that are expensive. However, we urge parents to consider our admissions consulting packages as an educational and career investment for their children. The modern reality is that four years of private college can exceed $200,000 and four years of public college averages $80,000. We feel it’s “worth it” to ensure that a student gains acceptance to a college or graduate school program that is the best fit for his/her academic interests, aptitudes, educational goals, and career track.

How does Top Tier Admissions® match Senior Counselors with students for Essay Packages and Personal Boot Camp?

For our Essay Guidance PackageCommon Application 911 Package, and Personal Boot Camp Package, each student is welcome to select the Senior Counselor whom he or she wants to work with, but we can certainly help! We focus on finding the counselor that best matches a student’s personality, interests, learning style and schedule. Get to know our staff by reading their bios or contact us! Our team is happy to help identify the Senior Counselor who would be the best fit for your prospective applicant.

What is the role of an independent counselor?

An independent counselor can supplement your school counselor’s efforts by providing additional personalized guidance throughout the college admissions process. This can include working with you to develop a balanced college list, helping you create your activity list, preparing you for interviews and college visits, explaining the admissions process to you, and helping you with brainstorming and editing components of the application. We guide students and their families through every step of the college admissions process so they can identify the colleges (or graduate school programs) that will be the best academic and social fit for them. We then work with each student to help him or her portray the most comprehensive representation of who they are to the admissions committees of their chosen colleges. An independent counselor will not contact an admissions office on behalf of the student, nor can an independent counselor “get” a student admitted. Be wary of anyone who promises to get you into an Ivy League college  – no one can guarantee admission and this premise violates the ethics of the profession.

Does Top Tier Admissions® only help students who want to go to Ivy League schools?

No. We know that each student is different and has unique goals and aspirations. Our focus is to help students find the college or graduate school that will be the best match for him or her, where he or she will be happiest and truly thrive. We also work to ensure a strategy that gives our students options.  Last year, our students were accepted to a wide range of colleges. To see the variety of colleges and graduate school programs that our students attend, please see our results.

I just have a few questions about my student. Can I talk to you about his odds at College X and College Y if I give you his GPA and test scores?

Our admissions guidance depends upon factors and information unique to your student and his/her academic and personal history and goals. Therefore, we need to perform a thorough review of your student’s history in order to provide advice and accurate, comprehensive answers to questions. Hence, we do not provide advice or guidance on college or graduate school admissions odds to students for whom we have not written a personalized student report –and we cannot write this report for students who are not our clients.

My student only needs help with some aspects of the application or admissions process. Do you offer less comprehensive services?

We can customize a program to provide as much or as little help as your student needs or wants. Our comprehensive consulting programs include college counseling, application preparation guidance and academic support. Students can work with us to solidify the college list, create a resume, prepare for interviews and campus visits, and/or brainstorm and receive feedback on their application essays. Students can also work with our tutors through our tutoring packages for standardized test preparation. Additionally, we offer several smaller packages including our Essay Guidance Package and Common App 911 for families who would prefer to focus on a specific component of the application process.

Can I speak with past clients?

Unfortunately we cannot accommodate this request. Confidentiality is of the utmost importance to us and the families we work with, and we do not release identifying information about them unless they expressly grant us the right. Of course, you can expect the same level of confidentiality as a Top Tier Admissions® family. We understand that you may want to hear from former families first-hand so we have provided student and parent testimonials on our website for this purpose. We are proud to say that 60% of Top Tier Admissions® students are referrals from current or former families.

Does Top Tier Admissions® do pro-bono work and/or partner with charitable organizations?

In recent years we have partnered with several nonprofit organizations in New York and Massachusetts, including the Reach NYC program, Tenacity in Boston, and the John Andrew Mazie Memorial Foundation in Framingham, MA working to bring college admissions guidance to underprivileged students and first-generation college applicants. Please contact us if you are a nonprofit U.S. organization focused on underprivileged college student access and seeking to partner with Top Tier Admissions.