All-in-One Academics – Frequently Asked Questions

  • Q: Who is All-in-One Academics?

    A: All-in-One Academics was founded by Jessica Givens, author of the popular guidebook Get Your Summer Strategy On!.  It is an elite group of Houston-based college admissions consultants and secondary school tutors united by a common mission to help each of our students convey their unique strengths and to achieve their greatest academic potential and aspirations.

  • Q: Where is All-in-One Academics located?

    A: Houston, TX.  Thanks to the miracle of Zoom, however, All-in-One’s instructors regularly work with students all across the country.

  • Q: Why does my child need a College Admissions Consultant?

    A:  If you’re curious about the level of pinache and quality required for a personal statement to be submitted to an elite school, take a look at Johns Hopkins University’s “Essays that Worked” page.  The first thing you’ll notice is that creativity, authenticity and originality are essential.  The well written 5-paragraph essay that may have garnered an “A” from your child’s English teacher is likely to be only middle-of-the-road.  Don’t even think about submitting a “B+” essay.  No matter how many AP or IB courses they have taken, students simply aren’t taught in school how to write the kind of essay likely to resonate with admissions officers who are sifting through thousands of wonderful applicants.  And some students just aren’t comfortable writing about themselves.  No matter what, it’s uncharted territory, and it’s unclear how to even begin.  And an essay that isn’t properly conceived won’t be compelling, no matter how well written.  The fact is, unless a child is a recruited athlete, artist, musician, or national prize winner, the college application is his or her best and only shot to persuade the admissions committee to admit him or her.  Doing it right is the difference between a bunch of small envelopes and fat ones on admission notification day.  Any child applying to selective schools can significantly benefit from the assistance of an effective college admissions consultant.

  • Q: How are you different?

    A:  We love kids! And we love the light in their eyes when they realize that we “get” them – we see and appreciate their glittering sparks of uniqueness.  It’s from this foundation that great college applications are born.  No amount of expertise – though we’ve got oodles of that – matters if a rapport is not established that allows a child to reveal his or her light.

    Let’s face it; the teenage years are often tough on parents.  You’re proud of what your child has accomplished and you’re proud of where they’re going, but it can be difficult to really speak their language.  Or maybe you’re so close that it’s impossible to be objective.  Either way, we can help break through.

    Getting kids into the best schools for them is about getting them to reveal the best of themselves – on paper.  And that’s no small feat.  Less competitive schools don’t require much more than a reporting of grade point average and standardized test scores.  But once you leave the realm of safety schools, applications get downright daunting.  Most require a portfolio of items — a combination of long and short essays, a resume, letters of recommendation, etc.  Together, these items must tell a story – a compelling story about why this particular child belongs at a particular campus.  A story that suggests that when the child leaves that campus, they will make a mark upon the world that reflects positively back on the university.  Every child has that story to tell, even if he or she doesn’t know it.  Through a process tailored to each individual student, we help them discover and articulate their story.  The results are happy students bound for universities of their choice.

  • Q: What led All-in-One Academics to help students in the process of applying for admission to college?

    A: Jessica Givens started out as an SAT instructor for The Princeton Review in the 1990’s.  At that time, The Princeton Review was noted for its top-notch instructor training, fun classroom experience, and excellent score improvement results.  Jessica loved connecting with The Princeton Review’s students and the experience cemented their passion for playing a key role in helping students achieve their college admissions goals.  Over the years, Jessica went on to teach the other major standardized tests, including the ACT, GMAT, GRE, MCAT, DAT and LSAT, as well as be selected to train other instructors.  In her capacity as instructor at The Princeton Review, she had the opportunity to work with hundreds of students.  It wasn’t long before it became clear that students needed more guidance than just test preparation, and Jessica found herself jumping in to help students determine which colleges to apply to, editing their essays and resumes, and practicing interview questions.  Grounded in the firm belief that every student has a unique contribution to make, Jessica realized she had a knack for using the rapport she had built with her students to zero on how best to convey their individual strengths compellingly.  In 2005, Jessica launched her own company with Jamil Driscoll, making their invaluable assistance available to even more students.

  • Q: What services does All-in-One Academics offer?

    A:  All-in-One Academics is a one-stop resource for secondary school and college admission success.  All-in-One’s instructors help students and parents successfully navigate the college admissions gauntlet through one-on-one consulting, college application crash courses, and publications.  They also provide tutoring in all academic areas and standardized test preparation.

    Services include:

    College Application Crash Course
    One-on-One College Consulting
    Individual SAT and ACT Test Prep
    Tutoring in all secondary school and some university-level subject areas
    Individual College Application Assistance
    Online ResumeBuilder tool
    Publications, including Get Your Summer Strategy On!, College Application Workbook, and College Exploration Workbook

  • Q: How did the College Application Crash Courses get started?

    A: All-in-One Academics’ one-of-a-kind College Application Crash Courses grew out of years of working with individual students to write extraordinary and compelling college applications.  With the success of that experience and a desire to make expert college application guidance available to even more students, the College Application Crash Courses were born.  It was the birth of something magical.  From the very first class, it became obvious that not only could All-in-One largely duplicate the experience of individual assistance in a small-group setting, students loved the energy of the classroom experience.  With the opportunity to discuss ideas openly in a supportive group setting, students’ creativity, and therefore their ability to write compelling college applications, flourished.

  • Q: Who should take the College Application Crash Courses?

    A: Nearly every college-bound rising Senior!  It’s no secret that college admissions only gets increasingly competitive each year.  As if that fact weren’t stress-inducing enough, the amount of work required to write a compelling application is enormous.  There are tons of essays to write, resumes to perfect, recommendation letters to secure, and a zillion school-specific guidelines and deadlines to comply with.  It doesn’t help that admissions committees decisions about whom to admit and whom to reject can be mystifying.  Why did the nice, involved student with the perfect GPA and stellar test scores get rejected?  Why did the student who seemed so mediocre get in nearly everywhere he applied?  The truth is:  admissions officers have a tough job, and it’s more art than science.  That means that a compelling application is more art than science, too – it’s about finding ways to cohesively convey the unique character, creativity, and potential contribution of each student.  If that sounds like a tall order, that’s because it is.  Who couldn’t use some guidance?!?  Plus, the science part of it is this:  students who apply early have better chances of admission, and nothing sets a student up better for a successful early applications than All-in-One’s Crash Courses.

  • Q: What makes for a “compelling” college application, and how do you make sure that All-in-One’s students are achieving them?

    A: One thing we know for sure is that numbers alone rarely cut it as colleges seek to compile diverse entering classes.  Standing out in a sea of well-qualified applicants requires conveying demonstrable passion and potential for contribution and doing it with creativity.  For each student, that takes on a unique shape – it has to.  Some students’ passion is obvious and manifests in multiple aspects of their lives; for others, it’s nascent and may not have even risen to the level of consciousness yet.  So, there is no formula.  Formulas are for the 5-paragraph essays students write in their English classes that might have garnered them an “A” in that setting but will put them squarely in the reject or wait list pile on an admissions officer’s desk.  We take the time to ask each student the probing questions that lead to the conception of creative essay ideas, and then we work with each student to put their ideas down on paper in ways that the convey each student’s unique voice.  And we don’t bless their essays until they send a little tingle up our spines.  And that’s how you know an application is compelling.

  • Q: How do I know if my child would benefit more from a Crash Course or one-on-one consulting?

    A: The Crash Courses require students to put in a great deal of effort in a short period of time.  It is a fun experience but requires each participant to bring a healthy dose of self-motivation and discipline regarding their college applications.  If this doesn’t sound like your child, then one-on-one consulting is likely the best choice.  If you’re uncertain and want to talk it through, don’t hesitate to call!  We’ve worked with hundreds of students and can help each student pick the best option for them.

  • Q: What is offered as part of the Platinum Crash Course?

    A:  The Platinum Crash Course is the original, comprehensive college application course, with enrollment limited to 5 students per course, with several course dates offered over the summer. In addition to 30 hours’ class time, Platinum Crash Course students receive consultant support via telephone throughout the ensuing fall semester.  Parents receive a pre-course consultation to create a personalized set of colleges to which the student will be applying.  Students complete both the ApplyTexas application online, which is submitted to Texas universities, and the Common Application, which is used by most universities outside of Texas.  Breakfast and lunch each day is included with tuition. 

  • Q: When are the Crash Courses offered?

    A: Crash course dates for each summer are announced in January. Visit our Crash Course pages for more information. http://allinoneacademics.com/summercrashcourse

  • Q: Where can I sign up for a Crash Course?

    A: Go to:  http://allinoneacademics.com/summercrashcourse/ to register online, call 713.405.1193 for information, or email info@allinoneacademics.com.

  • Q: What is extended time?

    A: Extended time is an accommodation provided under the Americans with Disabilities to students with learning and other disabilities when taking standardized tests such as the SAT, ACT, GRE, GMAT, MCAT, LSAT, AP, and IB exams.  Students who qualify generally receive 50% more time to take the exam.  Although students often think that everyone could benefit from more time on these timed exams, studies show that students without learning disabilities experience only very small score increases with the extra time; however, students who do have learning disabilities can experience significant score jumps.  All-in-One can help you assess whether your child should apply for extended time and advise you regarding the process.  Where appropriate, All-in-One can provide referrals to qualified diagnosticians and legal professionals in the Houston area.

  • Q: Is extended time the only testing accommodation available?

    A: Although 50% extended time is the most commonly requested and granted testing accommodation, other accommodations such as individual testing, extra breaks, a reader, and others, are available.  A qualified diagnostician can identify which testing accommodations are necessary.

  • Q: What are your Extended Time Strategy Workshops?

    A: It’s a wonderful thing when a student who needs extended time is granted it by the SAT or ACT administrators.  If a student doesn’t know how to strategically use the time, however, it can all be for naught.  All-in-One’s Extended Time Strategy Workshops are offered the Saturday prior to each major test administration.  A qualified consultant helps each determine and practice his or her individual timing strategy in order to maximize potential performance on the exam.

  • Q: What should I do if I have more questions?

    A: Give us a call!  We love to help.  Call 713.405.1193 or send an email to info@allinoneacademics.com