College ’boot camp’ designed to whip applications into shape

Wendy Friedman started CollegeBound 12 years ago and is running her first
Wendy Friedman started CollegeBound 12 years ago and is running her first "boot camps" for high school seniors on the North Shore. | Jackie Pilossoph/For Sun-Times Media

Every fall, Wendy Friedman gets dozens of calls from parents whose high school seniors need help starting the college application process.

The founder of CollegeBound, a college admissions counseling business, Friedman said she almost always has to turn business away since she only takes on 20 new clients per year.

But starting this month, Friedman plans to help many others through the college application process by hosting five two-day boot camps in the city, as well as in her hometown of Highland Park.

“This is an intensive two-day workshop that will condense the process,” said Friedman, a former college counselor for Solomon Schechter High School who started CollegeBound 12 years ago. “It’s very individualized — only three to four kids per workshop, and those kids will show me a list of their colleges, and I will make sure there are eight schools I think are good matches.”

The first CollegeBound Admissions Boot Camp starts on Aug. 30, with camps running through the end of September.

Following a private one-hour consultation prior to the camp, students will learn how to complete the Common Application, write essays, create an activity resume and prepare for admissions interviews.

“Competition to get into colleges has gotten so fierce,” Friedman said. “Kids are getting better grades and test scores because they are being tutored, and international student applications have increased dramatically, causing those students to take up spots that would otherwise go to American students.”

Friedman, who holds a journalism degree from New York University, as well as a masters degree from New York Institute of Technology, held positions as a television news reporter and an associate producer for ABC’s news magazine show 20/20 before becoming a broadcast journalism professor.

When her second daughter was applying to colleges, she sought the help of an independent college counselor, who not only coached her daughter, but who ended up hiring Friedman to help her students with the writing aspect of their college applications.

“I think from being a reporter, I have a knack for being able to draw out students’ inner strengths and passions, and I’m able to help them articulate those strengths to colleges,” said Friedman. “My research skills have also given me the ability to match students with schools where they will thrive and be able to achieve their personal and academic goals.”

Students start working with CollegeBound as early as ninth or 10th grade. While that might seem young, Friedman said kids need to develop their interests through internships and outside activities early on.

Debbie Spiwak of Evanston hired Friedman two years ago for her son, Sam, then a sophomore in high school.

“Wendy was beneficial in helping him look at the full package,” said Spiwak. “She guided him as to what classes to take in high school and to certain community service organizations for him to volunteer.”

Spiwak said when it came time to apply to colleges, Friedman not only helped the family choose the schools, but she made the application process much easier and less stressful.

“She really helped draw things out of him to write great essays,” said Spiwak. “She made Sam feel comfortable and at ease, and he could call her anytime with questions.”

Sam is headed to the University of Wisconsin in a couple of weeks.

“I treat every child like they are my own,” said Friedman. “One hundred percent of my students have gotten into one or more of their top three choices. I really, really care.”

CollegeBound

516-316-9199

wwwcollegeboundadmissions.com

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