Counselors are currently meeting virtually . For updates and resources related to COVID-19’s impact on college admissions, click here.

At Bright Futures Consulting, we are devoted to helping individuals realize their passions and potential in a holistic manner with expert guidance, compassionate mentoring, and comprehensive services. 

Whether you’re already part of the Bright Futures Family or interested in joining us, we are happy to answer your questions. To start, see below for answers to questions we are asked most frequently.

Getting Started

The first step is to schedule a complimentary consultation here

Next, look at the services offered and write down any questions you want answered during your consultation. 

On completion of your complimentary consultation, your Bright Futures counselor will advise which service or package is ideal for your student or yourself.

Yes! You can find all our a la carte services here. Be sure to check out the descriptions of each service though; some recommend the completion of other services (such as the Birkman Assessment).

The complimentary consultation is usually a 45-minute phone conversation or meeting where we learn what your family is looking for as your college bound student transitions from a high school student to an adult. We discuss:

  • Your family and the student’s needs. Each family and individual that we work with has unique needs when they come to us. We want to get to know you and your student so we can best fulfill your specific needs.
  • Your questions. Whether you have questions about our services, college counselors, comprehensive college counseling approach, or pricing, we’ll give you the support you need to make sure we are a good fit for you.
  • A bright plan forward. We’ll pinpoint a plan to address the student’s goals, so we can start guiding them toward their brightest future.
  • Scheduling. Finally, we’ll ask you about your availability so we can be sure our services fit into your schedule.

Working with Bright Futures Consulting

A college admissions consultant, alternatively called an independent educational consultant (IEC) or private college counselor, is a combination of a high school counselor, college advisor, and mentor – all rolled into one. We listen to student’s anxieties and aspirations surrounding academics, help them navigate admission requirements and areas of study, and serve as a resource for practical test-taking advice and college essay guidance, and more.

An IEC is an unbiased source of guidance for students as they make decisions throughout high school, consider careers, and apply to college, and/or other post-secondary options. An IEC empowers their clients to take the necessary steps in a timely manner in order to maximize their opportunities and reach their goals.

Discovering the ins and outs of every step of the college admissions process is a lot to take on. Working with a private college consultant at Bright Futures gives you confidence that you won’t miss any important details or advice. Every student receives focused, personalized guidance to navigate all aspects of academics in pursuit of their dreams. Meanwhile, families gain realistic insight about how to make their student’s bright future a wise financial decision.

No! Students who begin working with us in their 8th or 9th grade years get ahead of the game – financially and on their resume development. We help them plan their high school curriculum, extracurriculars, volunteering, passion projects, and summer activities to explore college majors and careers. Thoughtful decision making in middle and high school gives students more options and opportunities further down the road. Start early to position your student for success! Check out our 8th and 9th grade package!

Oftentimes, high school college counselors are overwhelmed with the number of students they need to advise. Additionally, their role encompasses more than just college counseling which necessarily reduces their counseling time per student. If your student needs a little more attention and guidance, we are here to help your student plan their bright future. 

If you attend a smaller school with a more accessible/available college counselor, we still encourage you to ask for feedback regarding their experience and their plan for your student. A lower ratio of students does not necessarily equate to a better quality of guidance. 

Regardless of the school or assigned counselor, we ask that any college guidance given to a student be shared with their Bright Futures counselor so that we may take it into account. The same way an athlete may work with both a team coach and a personal trainer, or a student attends math class and also has a math tutor, our goal is to work in tandem with a student’s support system so that they can reach their goals.

No, it’s not too late! Our counselors are here to take the stress out of applying to college! We tailor our program to meet the needs of a student. Contact us, and let’s discuss the best plan for your family!

Payments & Billing

Yes. We have payment plans available with no interest. Our bookkeeper works with each client to explain and determine their payment plan options. Whether paid in full or in payments, it’s the same price.

We accept most forms of payment including all major credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover), check, and/or wire transfer.

Location & Meetings

Yes we do! We know that families are busy, so we tailor our program to meet your scheduling needs. There is flexibility to work in the evenings and on the weekends. Talk to your college counselor about their availability. 

In many cases, virtual meetings make scheduling much easier. 

We work with and guide students and their families across the United States and sometimes the world (using virtual counseling) and locally, we have one Houston location (Clear Lake). We also have satellite offices in Sugar Land, Memorial, The Heights, and The Woodlands. 

In many cases, virtual meetings make scheduling much easier. 

It varies depending on which service(s) you are enrolled in and how much support your student and your family need. 

During your complimentary consultation and/or initial meeting with your consultant, your consultant will present you with a timeline resource that helps families plan for the frequency of meetings and topics included. However, this timeline is only for general reference – all our packages and meetings are customized based on the needs of each student and family.

Yes! We are happy to advise you online through Skype, Zoom, or whatever virtual platform is comfortable for you.

Contact

Privacy

At Bright Futures Consulting, we take your privacy seriously. We always use appropriate data collection, storage, and processing practices. Security measures are also taken to protect against unauthorized access, alteration, disclosure, or destruction of your personal information.  

Our Services & Packages

Birkman

The Birkman Assessment is a science-based approach to understanding a student’s unique interests, strengths, needs, and stress-responses that help identify a personalized path to their bright future. 

We recommend all students take the Birkman Assessment because it’s the first step to finding the best FIT college and major. The Birkman Assessment affirms your student’s interests, identifies potential careers and majors, and fosters self-awareness for their decision making. It’s a clear picture of who your student is at their core. 

The Birkman Signature Report provides the tools needed by all generations to make satisfying and successful choices such as:

  • A major that fits interests and needs
  • Meaningful life goals
  • Finding employment
  • Choosing high school courses
  • Complete and excellent college applications and essays

College Planning Services

The big difference between our All-Inclusive and Essentials experience is that All-Inclusive students have their entire college application process managed by Bright Futures. Counselors are always thinking about and guiding their All-Inclusive students through every college application choice and decision point. 

If your student does not want to manage their college application process, then the All-Inclusive package is the ideal package. 

If your student believes they can manage their college application process but wants some guidance, then the Essentials package is all they need. 

All-Inclusive ($5,500): Includes unlimited help and guidance (via in-person meetings, virtual options, or phone calls – whatever is convenient) with the college admissions process and ends upon senior year graduation. Services in this package range from a career and behavioral assessment, a customized college list, unlimited entry into our “rising senior” camps this summer, and unlimited one-on-one help with applications, essays, short answers, scholarship applications, etc. This also includes us providing reminders and assistance on to-do items such as transcripts, teacher recommendations, etc.

Essentials ($4,000): This is known as our “good start” package. Between the Birkman assessment, camps, customized college list, and resume draft/review, the student is prepared to then “take on” the remainder of the application/essay process on their own, as well as keep track of their own “to-do” list, such as requesting transcripts and recommendations.

In general, we are happy to answer commonly asked questions that pertain to the general college admissions process, regardless of the package or services chosen. These questions are usually the type that can be asked/answered via a brief call or email. However, only All-Inclusive clients maintain full and unlimited access to us regarding their own Personal college admissions process.

The best time to start working with Bright Futures is any time from 8th grade or later. In reality, the earlier they start, the better the outcome in most cases.

Yes, we designed the High School Transition Package with your family in mind. 

In addition, this is a great time to schedule a financial advising session with Raymond VanBuskirk.

Yes! Bright Futures Consulting is experienced in helping students apply to international universities.

Every student’s journey is different; certain needs and circumstances may arise that result in a different selection or strategy of services. However, here are some examples of the type of student/family that could benefit from our various services/packages:

Essentials Package

Student 1: Student would like to attend a local or state university. The applications will likely only require an essay (ex: Univ of Houston, Texas Tech) which is included in the Essentials package. Their parents would like Bright Futures to help their child choose colleges that would be a good fit, as well as help them explore/choose an area of study. 

Student 2: Student is interested in schools with a more involved/competitive application process (ex: Texas A&M Univ, Baylor Univ). The family wants Bright Futures to make sure their student is well-positioned for acceptance which includes advice on extracurriculars, course selection, etc. They are confident the student will be able to keep track of the deadlines and requirements* for all the applications.

*Requirements must be submitted by certain deadlines and (normally) include:

        • Letter(s) of Recommendation (Counselor and/or Teacher)
        • ACT/SAT Score Submissions
        • Supplemental Essays/Short-Answers
        • Interview
        • Transcript Request & Submission
        • Naviance-Application Alignment
        • Resume 
        • Brag Sheet

All-Inclusive Package

Student 1: The student’s family is busy and/or did not attend university in the U.S. Either way, they do not want to “miss a step” in the preparation or application process and would Like Bright Futures to guide their student each step of the way. This includes working with the student to meet every deadline and requirement* of the application process.

*Requirements must be submitted by certain deadlines and (normally) include:

        • Letter(s) of Recommendation (Counselor and/or Teacher)
        • ACT/SAT Score Submissions
        • Supplemental Essays/Short-Answers
        • Transcript Request & Submission
        • Naviance-Application Alignment
        • Resume 
        • Brag Sheet

Student 2: The student would like to attend a competitive university (ex: UT Austin, Rice University, Yale University). The family would like Bright Futures to not only  make sure that their student is well-positioned for acceptance, but will also manage/facilitate the application process. Competitive universities often have more involved requirements than most applications. In addition to the requirements listed above, they may also include:

        • SAT Subject Tests
        • Interview
        • Expanded Resume

Just let your counselor know*. Your payments for the Essentials package will be applied to your All-Inclusive package. 

* In order to ensure access and availability, counselors have a limit to the number of All-Inclusive clients they can add to their roster. Clients who enroll into an All-Inclusive package from the beginning and those who upgrade prior to the end of their junior year are guaranteed to work with the same counselor through the entire process. Those that upgr

Strategizing and creating a college list is a big deal. Consider the list carefully before proceeding. You don’t want your student to begin dreaming of majoring in Business at Rice University only to realize that Rice doesn’t offer an undergraduate major in Business. Similarly, you don’t want to apply to MIT only to realize that they require SAT subject tests, and it’s too late to register. Or perhaps you want your student to attend your alma mater, but forget that their application now requires multiple essays (and your student hates writing). Often, the college list is the most difficult part of the college admissions process. However, to ensure that your student has a college list that is a “good fit,” here is some advice:

  • Ask your student to list reasons why they want to attend each university on their list. The reasons should indicate knowledge of the school and major/program. Many colleges ask “Why do you want to attend?” either in the application and/or in the interview process and can spot a “canned” or inauthentic response very quickly. (Hint: “My mom/dad/friend want me to go here” is not a good reason.)
  • Check the admissions rates and profile for each school (good research project for your student). Decide if your student is well-positioned in terms of academic fit. 
  • Research the application criteria and make sure your student is prepared to “go the distance!”

This is just the tip of the iceberg, but it’s a good start! You can tell that it is an extensive, personal undertaking which is why Bright Futures does not offer college list guidance on an hourly basis. However, if you feel confident in the “fit” of your student’s list, Bright Futures can still help by offering guidance in positioning your student for their best chance at acceptance and/or facilitating their application process.

Yes! We have helped students pursue a variety of different pathways after high school. Our consultants have worked with students interested in the military, trade school, gap years, community college, and internships following their graduation.

  • Ask your student to list reasons why they want to attend each university on their list. The reasons should indicate knowledge of the school and major/program. Many colleges ask “Why do you want to attend?” either in the application and/or in the interview process and can spot a “canned” or inauthentic response very quickly. (Hint: “My mom/dad/friend want me to go here” is not a good reason.)
  • Check the admissions rates and profile for each school (good research project for your student). Decide if your student is well-positioned in terms of academic fit. 
  • Research the application criteria and make sure your student is prepared to “go the distance!”

This is just the tip of the iceberg, but it’s a good start! You can tell that it is an extensive, personal undertaking which is why Bright Futures does not offer college list guidance on an hourly basis. However, if you feel confident in the “fit” of your student’s list, Bright Futures can still help by offering guidance in positioning your student for their best chance at acceptance and/or facilitating their application process.

Graduate Planning Services

Yes! The Bright Futures team has extensive experience helping individuals seek professional degrees. Take a look at our Professional Pivot, Graduate School, or Career and Internship services for more details.  

We have several services to guide individuals in achieving their dreams after high school including:

  • Birkman Assessment
  • Career counseling
  • Resume development
  • Professional and graduate school counseling
  • Hourly consulting on general career or education topics 

Professional Pivot Services

Yes, we offer career counseling services. Click here to learn more about it. 

Yes, we offer customized services for adults that are designed to help them make college/career choices. 

Yes. We offer several types of career and life coaching services, including the:

  • Birkman
  • Coaching sessions
  • Resume polishing
  • Hourly consulting

A La Carte Services

Packages are designed to build a trusted relationship between the consultant, student, and family. Students and families benefit from expert guidance that is given by an experienced consultant who is able to offer advice that takes into account the full context of the student’s circumstances, goals, and potential. On the other hand, our hourly or a la carte services do not offer the same results because finding a college or program FIT for a student cannot be done in one sitting. While the advice and guidance will still be “expert,” it will still lack the context and trust gained through the benefit of multiple meetings over a longer span of time. 

Applying to college is a very personal process. 

It requires students to share private information that might be sensitive (grades, goals, family circumstances, disciplinary actions, mental health issues, etc.), and it is unrealistic (and unfair) to expect a student to open up to a new person quickly so that a consultant can understand the “whole student” and advise accordingly.

Our Experts

Our counselors have different experiences in the college admissions or high school counseling.

You can read the individual expert pages here.

In the complimentary consultation, Bright Futures typically suggests a counselor* who is aligned with your goals and personality. Families can also come in with an idea of who they want to work with, and we will determine if the consultant has openings in their roster and will be a good fit.

*Dr. Beth Dennard is owner of Bright Futures, but is transitioning towards a well-deserved retirement. She currently provides supervisory support for her team of expert consultants; therefore, she is not available to work with package clients.

Meet our experts.

Each of our independently practicing college counselors are members of at least one of the following professional organizations adhering to the highest ethical standards and practices within this field: NACAC, TACAC, HECA, IECA. 

Our counselors also maintain additional credentials, such as (relevant) advanced degrees, training, and/or certifications. Click here to learn more about each counselor.

A success rate is hard to calculate since students often receive input and guidance from sources outside of Bright Futures* and therefore may make choices that affect their chances of admissions. For students who enroll into our All-Inclusive program, meaning they have a Bright Futures counselor overseeing their college list and working with them during the entire application season, the acceptance rates are consistently in the 90th percentiles. 

Bright Futures students have been offered admission and scholarships to a wide variety of colleges and military academies over the years. Our list of recent acceptances depicts this range. Success for us is a student who is excited to attend a college that is both a great fit and allows them to be happy and successful. 

* Bright Futures takes great care when considering a student’s college list. The list and strategy our experts create takes into consideration financial positioning, acceptance likelihood, academic fit, cultural fit, student interest, parent input, and more.

Working with a counselor is personal, and while we aim to get the relationship right the first time, we understand that we can’t match with 100% accuracy. If you feel like your counselor-student relationship isn’t quite what you expected, please reach out to [email protected] and let us know. We’ll work hard to remedy the relationship, and can reassign you to a new primary counselor. 

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