The college admissions landscape has changed dramatically in recent years, leaving many parents overwhelmed about how to start planning for their children’s education.
A couple years ago, Leslie Caruso was in the same boat helping her stepson, a Cape High grad, figure out which college would best meet his goals and needs.
“It’s about going to the right school, not the ‘best’ school,” Caruso said, noting that students need a full understanding of their options and opportunities to make an individual choice that is right for them.
She then started helping other students navigate the admissions process, which is when she learned about Texas-based Firat Education. She was so impressed with the organization, she recently joined Firat as a college admissions and school placement consultant.
“This is a service offered in all larger cities, and my sincere hope is to bring pertinent information to our kiddos here in Sussex County,” Caruso said.
High school counselors manage hundreds of students, making it difficult for them to provide intense, in-depth attention to all of them, Caruso said. Parents need to be careful about how they spend their money, and students who are eligible for scholarships need help finding and applying for them.
“There’s so much money left on the table each year,” Caruso said.
As a college strategist, Caruso said she provides an extra level of support and guidance. Ideally, Caruso said, she meets with students as young as eighth or ninth grade to assess their college and career goals, including financial considerations, and develop a personalized strategy.
With Firat, Caruso said she has a network of professionals all over the country to use as a resource when helping students find the right fit. A lot of times, parents don’t know where to start or even have the time to research everything, Caruso said, so she can help each student individually.
A 25-year Rehoboth resident, Caruso has worked at Children’s Beach House, Child’s Play and Shields Elementary, and served as Rehoboth Elementary PTO president while her children were enrolled there. She holds a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education and a master’s degree in special education.
“I have a good rapport with teens, and I am able to get them to open up so I can help them,” she said.