College Coach

College Coach is administered by Bright Horizons, a leading provider of educational counseling services, College Coach gives you access to a team of college admissions and finance experts who can offer impartial guidance and help you maximize your child’s success. Suggested for parents of 9th-12th graders. This Tuition Programs benefit is available at no cost to active faculty and staff. 

    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
    • Identify resources and strategies to pay for college expenses
    • Understand what academic, career or alternative pathways exist for high school graduates

    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].

    The Fall 2022 Webinar Series runs from September to November. To register for a webinar, or request a webinar recording, please click the Register link below.

    Topics include:

    Navigating the FAFSA and Other Financial Aid Applications

    Wednesday, October 12, 2022  |  12:30 p.m. ET  |  Live Webinar

    The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the College Scholarship Services (CSS) Profile are the two primary financial aid applications required by many colleges and universities. This session is designed for parents of 12th graders and college students and will:

    • Provide an overview of the entire financial aid application process
    • Review the FAFSA in detail and compare/contrast the FAFSA and CSS Profile
    • Identify unusual circumstances and how best to discuss personal situations with the aid offices
    • Offer tips to make the process of completing the forms more efficient and less stressful

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


    Paying for College

    Wednesday, October 19, 2022  |  3:00 p.m. ET  |  Live Webinar

    While students are working diligently to get into college, parents are facing the daunting question of how much college will cost. This workshop provides a comprehensive overview of the various resources and strategies families use to cover college expenses. Families will learn:

    • Where financial assistance comes from and how to maximize eligibility
    • How aid eligibility is determined and tricky caveats hidden in the fine print
    • The most effective way to appeal the initial financial aid award or negotiate for more funds
    • Effective strategies to employ when spending  assets on college
    • Key considerations when selecting the right education loan

    This topic is suggested for: Parents/guardians of students in 9th - 12th grade. 


    Alternatives to a 4-Year Degree

    Thursday, November 3, 2022  |  3:00 p.m. ET  |  Live Webinar

    Is the four-year college degree the only pathway to success? Could your student benefit from something different?  There are a variety of options available to students today, but the key is knowing which is best for your child. In this webinar, you’ll learn:

    • What academic, career, and other pathways exist for high school graduates
    • When a student should consider a gap year and how to research options
    • How to identify the best options and set goals based on your student's strengths and interests
    • Tips for establishing a timeline and action items for your student

    This topic is suggested for: Parents/guardians of students in 9th - 12th grade. 


    Preparing College Applications

    Tuesday, September 20, 2022  |  12:00 p.m. ET  |  Live Webinar

    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 12th grade students. 


    Programs and Resources

    College Coach offers an online learning environment that is available 24/7 to help you maximize your benefit. You can access videos, important timelines and deadlines, future cost calculators, frequently asked questions, blogs, podcast episodes and in-depth resources related to any curriculum topics presented during a live event.

    Review the Relevant This Month information or browse by topic. The Learning Center is also a great way to involve your whole family, as you can create a profile for your spouse or partner, and your student so they can access it at any time.

    Log in to the Learning Center

    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)