Preparing for a Successful College Experience

August 09, 2021

It’s no doubt that college planning and the application process can be a daunting endeavor that not all students can take on themselves. And not every parent has the skills, tools, or time to be able to help guide their children. Throw COVID into the mix and it gets even more complex. To the rescue is Meena Kapur, founder of Vision College Prep, who has the skills and expertise to navigate students starting from high school through the application process.
Meena, a mother of 2 sons, has been a professional college counselor for the past four years. She studied at UCLA’s College Counseling Program and initially helped friends and family with all aspects of preparing for college before launching Vision College Prep, Inc. She counsels students all over: locals who can pop on over to her office in Irvine for meetings and online anywhere in the world.

How does Vision College Prep work with students?
I get to know each student well, which allows me to have a personalized approach when developing an application strategy. I offer guidance to students throughout high school with course selection, extracurricular activity recommendations, standardized test prep assistance, college list research/finalizing, college visit suggestions, summer program ideas, athletic guidance, niche program knowledge, essay brainstorming strategies, interview prep, and the final package of their completed college admissions applications. I empower each student to stay motivated and break down the process into manageable deadlines and tasks. I want them to recognize that they will be the beneficiary of their hard work.

What else do you consider when you’re working with students?
Students have various aspirations, so I take a detailed questionnaire to know each of their unique capabilities. For example, a student might have a learning disability, be an athlete, have financial concerns about the cost of college, are interested in engineering/arts program/music/dance, or any other niche which will require specialized attention.

What do you love most about your work?
I am passionate about education. I’m the daughter of a college professor who would take me on-campus visits to see his research in genetics and botany. Professionally, I love working with the students. They put a smile on my face every day.  Guiding them to make educated and intelligent decisions, I watch them gain confidence in their abilities and applaud their achievements. My students are excited about the possibilities in their bright futures. They might be nervous about steps in the process, but being able to talk through those moments together and overcome obstacles, makes it all worthwhile.

How does the process start?
I have a 30-minute phone call with the parents to find out their student’s needs.  Next, I have a zoom call with the students to understand their ambitions and set up a structure for our future work. The family will fill out questionnaires and intake forms. I map out a four-year plan specific to their interests, abilities, and future goals. Then we agree on a regular schedule to connect. Starting high school is full of unknowns, and I’ve found that working with students to explain the process can ease some of the stress.

What are some of the services that you offer your families and students?
I offer a fully comprehensive package to help navigate their students through high school to show proficiency and depth in areas where they thrive. 
I offer hourly rates for students who generally are well supported in school with counselors who have smaller student ratios. 
I take a limited number of students for essay guidance.

COVID has affected everyone, and students are experiencing a new education like never before. What does it look like for fall 2021? And how do you navigate your students through it all?
I tell my students to stay flexible. Nobody could have envisioned we would be in this moment in time. Be patient, understand that the pandemic is not happening to only you. It’s happening to the entire world. Have empathy for those suffering and think about how you can give back in this time of need. I tell students this is a great time to get to know themselves better, work on an interest or hobby you never had time for before, connect with loved ones often and make the best of every situation. 
The fall landscape for college admissions is really like the wild west. Old information from years past no longer applies, and I must stay ahead of changing data to inform my families better. Participating in professional organizations weekly, attending online lectures, and communicating with UCLA College Counselor alumni and professors are a few ways I keep myself informed of the daily changes in college counseling.
What are some important things for entering high school students to think about? 
Hiring a professional IEC, Independent Educational Consultant, to guide your journey during high school is an investment in your future. High school counselors work with a tremendous number of students at one time. They may not get to know each student well, and it is not easy to guide individually. I work with the students to develop their voices and guide their interests to be placed at a university where they will thrive. Nothing makes me happier than watching a nervous high school freshman become a confident college freshman, ready for the next challenge.

To find out more and to reach Meena Kapur, visit Vision College Prep.

Greer's OC
Blogger | Journalist

Since 1993, Greer has been writing about fashion, dining and trends in Orange County, as a popular columnist for the Los Angeles Time Community Newspapers (Daily Pilot, Coastline Pilot and HB Independent) and now as founder of Greer’s OC.

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