Pro-Bono Consulting – Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ

Why don’t you charge money?
Why minority students?
How can I request your services?
How do you conduct your consultation sessions?
How are you different from other admissions consulting businesses?
What makes you qualified to give this advice?
Do you guarantee admission into my program of choice?
How, and when, do you take new clients?
Where are your past clients in their academic and professional careers?
Can you help me with my résumé or curriculum vitae?
I see you are also a graphic designer. Will you design me a logo, stationery, etc.?
Is there anyone you will not work with?

Why don’t you charge money?

First and foremost, I fundamentally believe that helping people reach their educational goals should not be a financial burden. Between student debt and hidden costs—such as application, testing, and transcript fees—applying to graduate and/or professional programs is already a huge financial commitment for prospective applicants. Additionally, there is an open secret in academia that students from higher-income families receive more attention and guidance in their secondary and post-secondary educations. By not charging fees, my pro-bono services aim to address this equity gap in access to preparatory coaching and advising.

Why minority students?

There is a demonstrated gap in representation of minority students, educators, and researchers in academia—if not in admitting and hiring practices, then in the leaky pipeline. I’m a first-generation student, and I have experience firsthand the difficult, uphill battle to gain the same amount of respect and benefit of the doubt that others from more privileged upbringings (the “insiders”) effortlessly garnered. I also know that it takes a steady stream of advocacy, encouragement, and strategy to navigate those obstacles, and I am prepared to perform those capabilities for the people who need them the most.

How can I request your services?

I normally work by referral, but if you send me a message on Twitter or LinkedIn, I would be happy to talk with you further to discuss whether or not I would be able to address your needs.

How do you conduct your consultation sessions?

I operate entirely online, using a variety of open-source and/or free web applications: primarily video chat, Google documents, and email. With the exception of video chatting, all services are done asynchronously, meaning you have the flexibility to work on these materials in your own time and on your own schedule.

How are you different from other admissions consulting businesses?

First and foremost, my consultation is not a business. While there are others who charge for these services, I do not because of the racial, ethnicity, and gender gaps in higher education. These pay-to-play services create even more inequality in the educational system—inequalities that continue to widen the higher one climbs the academic and professional ladder. Freeing potential clients from financial burden is thus necessary to achieve a more equitable playing ground in higher education, one student at a time.

What makes you qualified to give this advice?

First, I am a college-level instructor in English literature, writing, and communications. This background means that I know the rhetorical tools it takes to convince a skeptical audience to have faith in your work as a candidate. Second, I have an infinite amount of personal experience applying to various program, fellowship, grant, and funding applications. Finally, I have learned these approaches largely through trial and error, and by asking for assistance from advisors when I received rejections. These lessons were hard fought, but often the most productive growth is a result of learning from these setbacks. My goal is to pay it forward until we begin to close the minority gap in higher education.

Do you guarantee admission into my program of choice?

Unfortunately, no one can guarantee what is essentially a game of chance, and you should be skeptical of any one person or business claiming to guarantee acceptance into a doctoral or professional program (seriously, if you hear that, run in the opposite direction as quickly as possible). What I can guarantee is that you will leave our last consultation session with a razor-sharp set of application materials that define your goals, your story, and your aptitude and abilities to enter a graduate or professional program. These materials often result in a more confident application, which is half the battle of applying to competitive programs.

How, and when, do you take new clients?

Because this consulting is not my full-time job, I often work on client material in the evenings or on weekends; therefore, I recommend reaching out to me at least 3-4 months before your first application is due. This work takes time to cultivate, and part of my program is the distinct lesson that one should never undervalue the importance of rest, relaxation, and time to think without the immediate pressure of deadlines. I normally work by referral, but if you send me a message on Twitter or LinkedIn, I would be happy to talk with you further to discuss whether or not I would be able to address your needs.

Where are your past clients in their academic and professional careers?

Several of my clients are now pursuing graduate study in a wide range of doctoral and graduate programs at a variety institutions at the top of their fields, including UCLA, Penn State, Florida State University, University of Georgia Athens, and Texas Women’s University.

Can you help me with my résumé, curriculum vitae, or cover letters?

In short, yes. However, I do prefer to consult on these documents when they need to be tailored to a specific application or purpose. This context helps to focus your professional and academic background in the documents themselves and better helps me assist you in your achievements and goals.

I see you are also a graphic designer. Will you design me a logo, stationery, etc.?

I can certainly provide those services, though they do fall outside the range of my pro-bono work. I typically charge $50 an hour for graphic design, but I am amenable to a pay-what-you-can model for low-income clients.

Is there anyone you will not work with?

My goal is to uplift as many students as possible. However, if it comes to light that clients are not honest or transparent about their educational and professional backgrounds, do not meet deadlines, do not maintain an open line of communication with me, or expect me to plagiarize (i.e., write application materials on behalf of the client), I reserve the right to refuse service and dissolve our partnership.