It's Never Too Late to Plan for College 1

Jessica Sharkey Shows Students How to Ace the Admissions Process

Some of the biggest mistakes I hear parents of high school students say they’ve made are that they waited too long to start the college search process and didn’t know that it was so involved, or that their child didn’t get accepted to certain schools because they applied too late or didn’t have a strong enough application.

These days, it’s getting harder to be accepted into college and more expensive to attend. An investment in a college education is the second largest investment one makes, behind purchasing a home. In order to make a wise decision, you need facts and information about the colleges you are considering and knowledge of what you should be looking for during a visit. If you haven’t had an older child apply to college, you can find yourself overwhelmed and dismayed trying to navigate through the process all by yourself.

Fortunately, you don’t have to do this alone. I recently learned of a college consultant who can guide you through the entire admissions process. She’ll coach and assist your child so they have every possible “edge” when submitting an application, along with the confidence that they did their absolute best, with every “t” crossed and “i” dotted.

At Sharkey College Consulting, Jessica Sharkey has been doing this with her clients and their families for the last eight years, receiving high praise from the numerous students she’s assisted. Her mission: To educate and inform students and their families of their college options.


Sharkey is a Scottsdale native. She graduated from Arcadia High School and then the University of Arizona with a Bachelor of Science in business administration and finance. Later, she attended the University of Texas to earn her master’s degree in higher education administration. She has worked at the University of Texas as a new student orientation coordinator; the University of California as program director, Hillel; the University of Arizona as the regional director of admissions and alumni affairs in California; and at Arizona State University College of Business as a program coordinator and academic advisor. After she married her husband, Mike, and raised their twin daughters, Sharkey opened her own business. In the last eight years she’s coached 140 students, and the list keeps growing.

Sharkey is one of the best resources you can find to discuss your options because of her 20 years of experience in higher education and counseling. There seems to be so many choices initially, but through a questioning process these options begin to take shape and the list begins to narrow. The more selective the school, the more expectations are placed on students to take four years of a main subject in high school.

One of Sharkey’s many strengths is that she always supports her clients. She’s honest without being negative. Sharkey will do whatever she can to help each of her students, offering one-on-one guidance on how to create an authentic application and encouraging them to take a proactive approach so they can enjoy the journey with their desired destination in focus.

Getting Started

A one-time fee starts the process, whether you’re a freshman, sophomore, junior or senior in high school—Sharkey recommends the earlier you start the better. She leads her clients through an in-depth process that takes the student from the discovery stage to the essay writing stage. By asking them a series of questions about their goals and what “floats their boat,” Sharkey can assess what schools fit that criteria. She will then recommend a number of things that they should do in regards to what classes to take and the importance of grades, summer jobs, volunteering and giving back, with everything geared towards the college admissions application and essay.

Narrowing the Process

Sharkey College Consulting’s step-by-step procedure includes:

  1. • A Find My Spark Survey, which includes a personality assessment to determine the student’s preferred learning style.
  2. • Developing a strategy and choosing an effective topic that the student cares about for their college essay.
  3. • Learning the importance of having a part-time or summer job, the right academic criteria, a plan to take standardized tests, how to apply for scholarships or financial aid, participating in clubs and volunteering with organizations they are passionate about. All of these help to build a strong application, while also maintaining a focus on their needs, goals and interests.
  4. • Researching colleges to see if their expectations are met.
  5. • What to look for during a college visit and how to evaluate a college campus beyond aesthetics by using a Campus Visit Worksheet to compartmentalize their thoughts. Also, how to develop relationships with the College Admissions office and how to sit in classes and observe interaction among students.
  6. • Learning how to write an effective essay and the importance of being truthful without using standard clichés.
  7. • The importance of applying early.

“I want my students to know that when they click submit, they are submitting the most authentic application possible. If they are denied, it’s not a reflection on them but of the application pool they are competing with,” states Sharkey.

Sharkey spends 20 percent of her time visiting different colleges to stay abreast on what they are looking for in applicants, as well as talking with students on campus to ascertain the type of student who would successfully fit into that environment.

She works hard to help each student achieve his or her personal and academic goals. The competition is tough and colleges only accept a small number of applicants, so it’s extremely important that every student be given an advantage to ensure their success in being accepted by the college of their choice.

For more information and to read testimonies from previous students, please visit her website.

Sharkey College Consulting