College Counseling & Application Advice


At ObjectiveInSight, all services are customized to individual student needs. The descriptions below provide an overview of the process at each stage. Some students come to OIC early in high school, others come later; some want assistance with the entire process, others just want essay guidance. We will work with you to design the program that fits your specific situation so that you get just what you need.

High School Students

There’s a lot of hype associated with applying to college. At OIS, we don’t want you to feel anxious – we want you to know you’ve got this. It’s under control.

Procrastination never makes things easier or better. Learning about your options early in high school can prevent surprises later, when it’s more difficult to do something about them. Likewise, starting your applications early gives you more time to perfect them.

Whether you’re a freshman starting high school or a senior about to embark on the application process, we can help.

Juniors & Seniors

The first step in the college application process is figuring out what type of college is right for you. This isn’t an easy question to answer – it requires looking within yourself and considering:

  • What am I interested in studying and why?
  • What kind of environment will best allow me to succeed academically?
  • Do I have any idea what sort of career I’d like to have?
  • Where will I be happiest socially? How far from home do I want to be?
  • Do I have any special needs?
  • What is my family’s financial picture?

As we explore these and other questions, Johanna will suggest majors, programs, colleges, and possible careers in order to help you gain clarity. Once we have established some of your interests, wants, and needs, Johanna will do extensive research to identify colleges and universities that best fit the criteria we established in step one. This includes ensuring that your list is balanced across a range of schools, from those you’re likely to get into to schools that are a longer a shot.

Finally, Johanna will help you execute the college application process to ensure that you always put your best foot forward, from writing stellar essays, to prioritizing and describing your activities, to impressing your interviewers.

Freshmen & Sophomores

As you transition from middle school to high school and beyond, schoolwork becomes more challenging and teachers’ expectations increase. The study habits that got you through middle school with decent grades are often not strong enough to meet these new academic demands.

In addition, colleges will want to see that you are active and involved in a few extracurricular activities – whether in school or outside of school, as well as during the summer– that can give you the opportunity to grow and develop as a leader.

We begin with a consultation where Johanna will gather information about your academic interests and study habits, as well as about your personal interests and values. Then, we will focus on understanding what colleges look for, learning the time management and study skills that will make you a better student, and finding activities and community service opportunities that suit and expand your interests.

Transfer Students

Most transfer students have a clear reason for transferring – whether it’s to change academic focus, find a different environment, or try to get into a dream school that didn’t work out the first time around. But if you just know you’re unhappy where you are or that you’d simply prefer a different environment, we’ll start with an assessment of what you liked and didn’t like about your first college experience so we can develop a college transfer list that best fits your current interests and needs.


Once your list is established, we’ll jump into working on your applications and essays. Writing a transfer application is similar to writing a freshman application, with one big difference: you need to make a strong and logical case for why you want to transfer, and why each of the schools you’re applying to will be a great fit for you,as well as the right environment in which to achieve your academic goals. Johanna will work with you to answer these questions with focused and thoughtful essays and a standout application, ensuring that you always put your best foot forward throughout the process.

Fine Arts Applicants

Fine Arts Portfolio Consultation with Matthew Baum, MFA

Matthew Baum is an artist and educator based in St. Helena, California. He earned a BA in American history from Brown University, studied architecture at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, and received his MFA from the School of Visual Arts. Matthew served on the faculty at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, the School of Visual Arts and Hunter College in Manhattan, and currently teaches at the University of California, Davis. He was co-founder and director of the VisuaLife photography education program, working with underprivileged youth in NYC. Matthew’s work has recently been shown at venues including CAMRaleigh, Fordham University’s Center Gallery and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture at the New York Public Library. View his work at

Matthew is available for portfolio consultation and instruction in photography. For more information, please email

Information for Parents

Why work with Johanna?
The college application process can be stressful and challenging – not just for students, but for their families as well. Asking a student how his or her essays are coming along can become a touchy subject. Sorting through the many types of schools, programs, and applications can be overwhelming. Working with an experienced college counselor can alleviate this source of stress within the family while ensuring that the work gets done, and done well.

In many ways, the application process is like taking an extra class in the hardest subject of all: knowing yourself and what you want from the next step in your life. Yet, while some high schools have a dedicated college counselor, others only have school counselors who are overloaded with hundreds of students. Nationally, the ratio of students to counselors is “nearly 500 to 1”. Many students are simply not able to get enough one-on-one time with their school counselors.

Furthermore, school counselors are not necessarily experts in essay writing, which is a major part of the application process – and often the one students stress about the most. Johanna’s background combines counseling and writing expertise with extensive experience working with students on the college application process. She works one-on-one with your student to create the strongest possible application while keeping him or her focused and on schedule. The result is on-time, high-quality work, so your student’s application rises to the top.

Learn more about Johanna’s background here.

What to Expect

Inspiration exists, but it has to find us working. Pablo Picasso

We will schedule individual meetings, either in person at our office in Princeton, on the phone, or via videoconference. Meetings are typically 60-90 minutes, and may be held weekly, every other week, or monthly, depending on where you are in the application process. At the end of each session, you will be clear about what you need to work on to prepare for your next session.

Depending on your specific needs, a personalized program of services is developed. Topics may include:
• Advice on Entering High School (choosing classes and extracurricular activities, building relationships with teachers and school counselors, etc.)
• Study Skills, Organization, and Time Management
• Essay Advising: Writing Skills, Brainstorming, Proofreading, and Editing
• Choosing and Applying for Internships/Summer Activities
• Getting the Most Out of College Visits
• Scheduling SAT, ACT, and SAT Subject Tests
• Creating a Resume and Activity List
• Admissions Interview Preparation
• General Application Coaching

After you’ve achieved your objective, whether it be college or graduate school admission, an internship, or a job, we love to stay in touch with you as you develop your life and career. You can check in with an update, share challenges and successes, or reach out for guidance about your next step. Once you’ve worked with ObjectiveInSight, you become part of our network – a continually growing group of smart, motivated students and professionals who enjoy sharing their experiences to guide others who are following in their paths.