College Coach

College Coach

College Coach is the latest addition to the University’s suite of Tuition Programs and is available at no cost to active Faculty and Staff. Administered by Bright Horizons, a leading provider of educational counseling services, College Coach gives you access to a team of college admissions experts who can help you maximize your child’s success. Suggested for parents of 9th-12th graders. 

    About College Coach

    College Coach experts include former senior admissions and financial aid officers from some of the nation’s most well-known higher education institutions. Expert guidance is available through live events, online support and personalized assistance.

    The program is designed to help you and your family members:

    • Navigate the complex college admissions process
    • Select high school courses and extracurricular activities
    • Narrow options and select a college or university for your child
    • Resources and strategies to pay for college expenses

    Fall 2021 Utilization Statistics

    845 faculty and staff utilized College Coach services between September-November, 2021. Detailed information on what services were used is available here.

    College Coach Statistics

    College Coach Registration

    New to the benefit? Visit:

    Employer Username: columbia  |  Password:  Benefits4You

    Get Expert Guidance:

    • Schedule a free one-on-one session with an expert to discuss your family’s unique situation.
    • Questions? Call (888) 527-3550 or email [email protected].

    Writing your Best College Essay

    Wednesday, July 13, 2022  |  7:00 p.m. ET

    When it comes time for your student to write the college essay, your family will be prepared with tips from our experts. Get guidance on what it takes to craft a stand-out essay… and succeed in the competitive admissions process. Join us for a live, interactive session to learn:

    • What makes a strong, appropriate, and engaging essay topic
    • Strategies for brainstorming, methods for writing, and tips for editing
    • How to avoid common mistakes and pitfalls
    • Insight into our former admissions officers’ favorite essays
    • How to get the most out of your free essay review benefit

    This topic is suggested for: Parents/guardians of rising 12th grade students. 


    Preparing College Applications

    Tuesday, August 9, 2022  |  1:00 p.m. ET

    The college admissions landscape is more competitive than ever before.  And trying to figure out how to go about that process is likely weighing on your mind, especially since a good application is key to success. This webinar will go over the process in detail and highlight how you can help your student create the best application. You’ll learn:

    • Common application components and how to tackle each one
    • Tips for writing an essay with maximum impact while avoiding common mistakes, pitfalls, and tricky topics
    • How to be proactive with requirements and deadlines for a lower-stress application process

    This topic is suggested for: Parents/guardians of rising 12th grade students. 


    The High School Plan

    Wednesday, February 9, 2022  |  1:00 p.m. ET  |  Live Webinar

    College admissions success depends on the critical high school years. How can you help your child make the most of them? Learn about the college admissions process and how to help your child effectively plan his or her high school academic and extracurricular program. Find out how to:

    • Select the appropriate type of level of courses for your student
    • Design a strategy for extracurricular and summer activities
    • How to move the plan forward even when high schools switch to virtual learning
    • Manage the calendar for standardized tests, recommendation letters, essays and interviews

    This topic is suggested for: Parents/guardians of students in 9th – 10th grades. 

    This event has now passed.

    Selecting Your Best Fit College

    Tuesday, March 22, 2022  |  7:00 p.m. ET  |  Live Webinar

    With close to 4,000 options for college in the U.S., the selection process can be overwhelming. Where do you even start, and how do you know if you’re on the right track? The goal of this workshop is to help families understand how to narrow their options and ultimately select the right college. Families will learn how to:

    • Identify their children’s strengths and interests
    • Utilize their children’s strengths and interests
    • Match their children with the colleges that are the best fits

    This topic is suggested for: Parents/guardians of students in 11th grade. 

    This event has now passed.

    Programs and Resources

    The College Coach online learning environment provides videos, resources and frequently asked questions for you to access on demand. It’s a great starting point for introducing the benefit to your whole family. 

    Consult with College Coach admissions and college finance experts in private phone sessions tailored to your needs. You can discuss your family and student’s application questions, create plans for high school and more.

    A family typically uses 2-3 scheduled counseling appointments per student each year. As this is a shared resource across all employees, it is helpful to consolidate your inquiries into fewer scheduled appointments.

    Register for Phone Counseling

    Note: you must register for College Coach before registering for phone counseling.

    Simplify the college search process with a custom list of colleges and universities based on your student’s preferences, interests and academic record. The list is created by a College Coach admissions expert based on a detailed student questionnaire and features a brief informational profile and estimated chance of admission for each school.

    Help your student craft their best application essays with exclusive written feedback from College Coach experts on college application writing supplements and activity resumes.

    College Coach will provide written answers to your specific questions through the Quick Questions tool. 

    Send Quick Questions

    *You must register for College Coach before you can send questions.

    College Coach FAQs

    There is no universal better choice between high schools. Colleges evaluate applicants in the context of their school environment. In any high school, it is important for students to make full use of all resources provided, in and beyond the classroom. If advanced, accelerated, or honors courses are available, students are encouraged to challenge themselves if it feels realistic and manageable. If such courses are not available, students will not be penalized in the admissions process.

    (Q&A provided by College Coach)

    Should my student be taking the most challenging courses, even if it might hurt the overall GPA?

    Your child should challenge but not overwhelm him/herself when choosing courses. Most students experience the greatest level of success and satisfaction when they challenge themselves in the coursework they enjoy most. Admission officers are not impressed with good grades in a curriculum that lacks challenging courses.

    (Q&A provided by College Coach)

    How many activities should my student get involved in?

    The number of activities is not as important as the commitment to the activity. Five hours spent with one club bears more fruit than one hour spent with five different clubs.

    (Q&A provided by College Coach)

    How many colleges should my child apply to?

    There is no perfect or absolute number that applies to every student.  College Coach recommends that students apply to around seven schools representing varying levels of selectivity.  An ideal list would consist of two “challenging schools,” institutions where the average accepted applicant's profile is stronger than your student’s profile; three “just right” schools, where the average admitted student’s academic performance is equivalent to your student’s record; and  two “no problem” schools, where your child’s academic performance clearly surpasses the typical admitted applicant.

    (Q&A provided by College Coach)

    If I apply for financial aid, will it adversely affect my chances for admission?

    At some schools, a financial aid application can reduce the student’s chances for admission, while at others, it won’t. Many schools are “need-blind” and do not review the financial aid application, if there is one, during the admissions decision process. Others are “need-conscious” and in one way or another favor the admission of non-aid applicants, or students from high-income families.

    In general, the presence of a financial aid application is much smaller factor in admissions than the data from the admissions application. Many need-conscious colleges admit almost all of their classes on a need-blind basis, and reserve a small fraction of admissions, perhaps 10%, for students who do not need financial aid. Others allow finances to play a minor role in the evaluation of all candidates.

    (Q&A provided by College Coach)