February 13, 2008
TODAY'S FOCUS: HR + DIVERSITY
College consultants share admissions tips
By Ashley Petry
For three local women, a break-room chat about how to pay for their children's college
education has turned into something much more -- their own consulting business.
Higher-ed helpers: The three co-founders of CND College Prep
Consultants, (from left) Norma Dartis, Carrie Morris and Deloris
Rochester, conduct workshops to teach parents and students how to
apply to college and where to find financial aid. - ROBERT SCHEER / The
ADVICE ON COLLEGE
• Who: CND College Prep Consultants.
• What: "Learn How to Fund a College
Education," a workshop offered through
Lawrence Township Community Education.
• When: 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., on two Thursdays,
Feb. 21 and Feb. 28.
• Where: McKenzie Career Center, 7250 E. 75th
• Cost: $29 per family.
• To learn more: Visit
call (317) 423-8290.
A year ago, sisters Carrie Morris and Deloris Rochester, along with their
friend Norma Dartis, founded CND College Prep Consultants, which offers
workshops to parents and students throughout Central Indiana to help
them navigate the admissions process, scholarships and financial aid.
"We just starting taking notes and saying, really, this is information we
should share with other parents and see if they have similar concerns,"
Rochester said. All three are college graduates and two have master's
degrees. But as the oldest of eight children, Rochester had to work her
way through college, attending school part time, because at the time she
didn't know about available financial aid or scholarships. She was
determined to give her own children a better experience -- paying for her
daughter's education at Indiana University by cobbling together more than
$40,000 in small scholarships.
Figuring out how to do that can be tricky, however, especially for parents
who didn't attend college. "As parents have told us in the focus groups,
'We don't even know what we don't know,' " Dartis said. "We want to
break it down into manageable pieces."
CND workshops typically cost about $50 per family and include
information on financial aid, scholarships, the college admission process
and application essays. (They don't do one-on-one consultations and don't
plan to open an office.) While much of the information is geared toward
students seeking undergraduate degrees, CND's founders said they also
help students prepare for other opportunities, such as trade school. "We
want them to see that post- secondary education is the norm, rather than
the exception," Rochester said.
In their first few months in business, the women scheduled workshops by
invitation wherever and whenever they could, including events such as
college job fairs and missionary conventions. CND -- an amalgam of the
co- founders' initials, as well as their motto "Caring Now For Your Destiny"
-- then began offering classes through the Lawrence Township
Community Education program. Kim Olive, Lawrence Township's director
of community education, said the workshops generate a small but steady
attendance and earn consistently positive evaluations.
CND also has signed a contract with Gear Up, a seven-year college
preparatory program for low-income middle and high school students in
Indianapolis Public Schools. Funded by the U.S. Department of Education
and administered locally by Ball State University, the program provides
mentoring, tutoring and campus visits to introduce students to the
prospect of attending college.
"The thing we like about CND is they're more personable and they're
parents themselves, so the parents really connect with them," said Andrea
Sims, Gear Up project coordinator. "It really makes them different from
Danetta Baumann, whose son Dennis is a senior at Tech High School,
has attended several of CND's workshops through Gear Up. She said her
son hopes to attend Wabash College or another in-state school this fall.
"We had no idea what to do," said Baumann. "I don't know what I would
have done without them, because they have been so helpful as far as
getting him ready for college and getting things turned in on time."
Although reviews of CND's workshops are consistently positive, the co-
founders said they have sometimes been disappointed by the attendance,
which occasionally consists of only one or two parents. To raise its profile,
CND is stepping up its marketing, developing a Web site and exploring
partnerships with companies to offer workshops to their employees.
"We've got to appeal to that sense within the parent or the guardian that
there is something better out there for their young person," Dartis said.
For more information about CND College Prep Consultants, call (317) 985-6847 or
send an e-mail to email@example.com