How It All Began
My passion for college consulting stems from my personal experiences with navigating the confusing world of college admissions. Coming from an underprivileged single-parent family, I didn't have the resources or knowledge I needed when applying to schools. I was pretty much on my own when it came to my education and navigating the college application process. I did the best I could, relying on what information I could gather, but without any guidance, I definitely ended up over-paying for my education. I know now that I could have done better in all aspects of the application process if I’d had the proper support.
Today, school counselors are just as busy, too busy to provide the proper support that students need. It wasn’t until after graduation that I realized how bad my situation really was. I struggled to pay back my student loans, not to mention trying to save for retirement or even for a rainy day fund. (To add fuel to the fire, I completed graduate school in 2008, at the height of the economic crash.) At the time, I had planned to go back to law school, but refused to pay another penny toward my education―it was just too expensive and I feared it wouldn’t have been worth it.
As I searched for ways to earn my law degree without paying more in student loans, I became obsessed with all things related to college admissions. I started learning everything I could about the application process, financial aid, admissions essays, etc. I read numerous stories about other millennials struggling with similar issues. Some of them couldn't afford the school they wanted so they chose a lesser school. Others wanted to switch schools but didn't know how, or they wanted to change careers or majors but were told it was impossible. Some wanted to study abroad but gave up, considering it unfeasible since they couldn't afford it. Many of them couldn’t keep up with their student loan payments on an entry level salary. I became very frustrated by what I felt was an injustice to all students. Purchasing a college education is one of the biggest financial decisions anyone will ever make, yet we were all floundering in our ignorance. How could schools ask seventeen-year-old kids to make one of the biggest financial decisions of their lives when they had no idea what they were committing to? It made me angry, so I decided I needed to do something about it so other students didn't end up like me.
Until recently, I lived in South Korea, teaching at the university level. During my six years there, I met a number of people who were heavily involved in college consulting and admissions. They took me under their wings and taught me all about working with international students and college admissions, especially Ivy League admissions as most international Asian students want to go to Ivy Leagues Schools. Needless to say, I fell in love with it!
So, I quit my cushy university job and started doing private college consulting full-time in the hope that I would be able to positively impact more students than I ever could in the classroom. As a teacher, I naturally love working with students and seeing the look on their faces when something finally clicks. With college admissions, I find it to be even more rewarding because I know how much I'm impacting the rest of their lives. I love knowing that these students are not going to have to choose between paying off student loans, getting married, or buying a house. They are going to have options I never had, even if they don’t yet realize it. I love seeing a student succeed and enjoy their college experience because they chose a college that is right for them. I love being able to provide students with options they never thought they had, and making a difference in every way possible.
Having lived abroad for six years, Elisia loved being an expat and has traveled extensively around the world, learning about many different cultures and exploring new places, and especially loves spending time at the beach. She is a self-proclaimed nerd who enjoys reading, particularly non-fiction, and learning about all things she finds interesting. One of her favorite subjects is personal finance (she likes it so much she was actually considering a career as a financial advisor before deciding to go into college consulting). Elisia loves the sport of CrossFit and is a self-described avid CrossFitter and meditates almost every day. Although she taught at the university level, she actually loves working with children and used to teach preschool on the side for fun, as well as volunteered as a baby holder at orphanages around the world. She has a master’s degree in Education, specializing in education policy, is a member of NACAC, a Certified College Counselor, and is the only Certified Financial Aid Advisor in Washington State. Elisia has been in education for fifteen years and worked in college admissions for five years before starting College Insights in 2015.