Educational Avenues

Expert Academic Advisement

We are professional members of the Independent Educational Consultant Association (IECA) who uncover a world of opportunities for US and international students and their parents. We deliver solutions that are tailor-made to fit any student’s needs and expectations. Let us use our expertise to help your son or daughter discover their unique gifts and express them fully in the process of applying for admission. We have helped many types of students: those interested in creative and performing arts, student-athletes, students transferring from one college to another, and students with learning differences. We work with families and students locally and internationally. We communicate by phone, via the Internet using email or video-conferencing (Skype, etc.) or in person. We are available to travel to our families’ homes in the US or other countries

Mission: “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” — W.B. Yeats We believe that there is an optimal, yet highly customized, path for selecting and implementing educational choices. We are committed to providing each family with whom we work, a thorough and individualized set of educational options that will maximize the student’s opportunity for success academically and in the immediate future.

Coronavirus forces U.S. universities online in China

Corona Virus forces Universities to teach online.
Compelled to close their campuses to limit the spread of coronavirus, U.S. universities with Chinese branches move at lightning speed to take teaching online.

College Financial-Aid Loophole: Wealthy Parents Transfer Guardianship of Their Teens to Get Aid

Today’s article on WSJ underlies the stress and anxiety of wealthy parents over the high costs of elite colleges.

Claire Law’s comments to Doug Belkin's coverage:
I read the WSJ article about parents gaming the system with transferring guardianship of their kids. Wow. That takes some nerve! However, I must admit that I felt for the woman who had exhausted her home equity to pay for her older kids’ college and now was transferring her last child’s guardianship to a friend, thus giving him “independent status” , thus resulting in a less expensive cost of attendance. I just wonder if colleges’ Strategic Enrollment Management - which is legal – sends a message to parents that if colleges can leverage financial aid to get parents to pay, then parents can do what’s legal in order to leverage their funds, limit their borrowing, and preserve their sanity. Interestingly, these parents are shopping for the most expensive colleges. Their perception may be that these are the only colleges worth going to, a result of college’s SEM, marketing, enrollment management strategies that colleges employ to manipulate supply-demand and desirability of their product that is sold in less than transparent manners.
I work with many families, from millionaires to poverty-line, Pell eligible students. I’ve never thought nor seen this level of gaming the system where a parent puts their child into guardianship. What level of desperation are they in? What amount of federal PLUS loans and private alternative loans are they struggling to pay back? Nevertheless, that “guardianship” strategy is not one they could think of on their own. These families are being coached by a forensic expert in the law of financial aid.
You could argue that an 18 year old is considered independent when it’s time to go to war and maybe die for the country. But they can’t go to college as independent students until they’re 24 years of age.
If SEM and the leveraging of financial aid is ethically wrong, so is changing guardianship for the sake of getting more aid. Two wrongs don’t make a right, even though they’re both legal. The Education Department is looking into a tactic that has been used in some Chicago suburbs, in which wealthy parents transfer legal guardianship of their college-bound children to relatives or friends so the teens can claim financial aid.

At the IECA Spring Conference in Chicago I met former Secretary of the Department of Education, Arnie Duncan. He said he supports of education, any type, proprietary et al, as long as it's good education and truly helps students. He didn't address the large loan debt that borrowers shoulder just to get a college degree.

Low Country Mental Health Conference

Charleston SC Choir sings at Low Country Mental Health Conference held each year at the Gaillard Center in Charleston.

National College Advocacy Group visits Princeton University

[03/05/18]   College admission and financial aid keep changing and yet remain the same. Federal procedure and institutional missions mutate each year but the need for families to educate their kids in away that is affordable doesn't change.

[01/28/18]   The mind is not a vessel that needs filling, but but wood that needs igniting. Plutarch AD 46- AD 120

Exploring the disease of addiction | The Daniel Island News

We're organizing a community forum on Teens & Substance Abuse at Bishop England High School (Daniel Island, SC) on Nov 29, 2016. Come join us! Exploring the disease of addiction Wed, 11/16/2016 - 8:27am admin By: Claire LawAddiction is an equal opportunity offender. It creeps in and hides under our very eyes. It doesn’t matter whether one is well-to-do or poor or on skid-row. It doesn’t matter if a person is faced with jail if he or she do...

I Know Why Poor Whites Chant Trump, Trump, Trump
This article provides insightful commentary of the history of the American poor class. From the era of slavery to the rise of Donald Trump, wealthy elites have relied on the loyalty of poor whites.

Letter to the Editor - June 16, 2016 | The Daniel Island News Letter to the Editor - June 16, 2016 Wed, 06/15/2016 - 8:46am admin Children, Teens and Gun Violence This week marks the first anniversary of the nine shootings at Emmanuel AME Church, and in December 2016 it will be four years since the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School where 20 children, ag...

Where have the young men gone? | The Daniel Island News Where have the young men gone? Wed, 07/13/2016 - 8:28am admin By: C. Claire LawTom Mortenson, Pell Fellow and publisher of Higher Opportunity Education in Washington D.C. ran the numbers way back in the 80’s and 90’s, and warned us. “Fewer boys are applying to college, and drop out at higher rates t...

Teens-at-risk: what parents can do/ or/ teens at risk: the parent process | The Daniel Island News


Why Wilderness Works

Nothing provides more positive change in teens than wilderness therapy. It’s an immediate wake-up call that lasts a long time. No matter how indulged they’ve been, they “get it” in wilderness therapy. They come to understand and even appreciate their parents. They learn that setbacks are inevitable, and often, problems are of their making.
No matter the socio-economic background, too many teens deal with challenges by using substances that temporarily may lift their mood but lead to addiction. Granted some kids can drink a few beers and won’t get addicted. But teens like to push everything to the extreme, and in fact, bait one another. It’s not enough to smoke pot, now they have to cook it and “dab” it, as if today’s marijuana was not already potent enough.
One common denominator of our youth today is depression and anxiety. And how do they cope? They may want out, and act out their anger by harming themselves or others. Many students and parents think their teen will be ok once he “outgrows it” and goes to college. The suicide rate on college campuses is rising, instead of declining. Colleges are setting up “Recovery Houses” to help students who were addicted remain sober. But how can we prevent teens from getting addicted in the first place? Wilderness. Not just camping for six weeks. Wilderness with mother earth fosters accountability, therapy and growth.
When I visit wilderness programs I’m always moved by what teens in treatment tell me. “David”,15, opens up freely, admitting that he had emotions that needed to come out in a way that was not harmful to himself or others. Before wilderness, he found it hard to talk about his feelings, because “guys are not supposed to express feelings, they are supposed to look cool or at least, fake it”. So he nearly succeeded in harming himself permanently. After watching many movies and playing video games for hundreds of hours, he wasn’t quite sure that he wouldn’t come back again – or at least be re-incarnated as someone else. Nobody really dies in games, movies or story books. Over the last eight weeks, he learned survival skills, set up camp, made meals with his peers, and spent time “quieting the soul”. Now he realizes he was on a path to destruction. He’s been journaling, recording his moods and emotions, getting in touch with himself, and writing letters to his parents expressing those feelings. He says he appreciates the other kids in his group because they help him. No matter “how dark” he gets, they do not judge him, yet they still hold him accountable for reaching the goals he set for himself.
I asked him how long it took him to get to this place, and “David” sighs: for the first three weeks he was not committed to this program. Then he came to the realization: If everyone here is trying to help me, why am I not helping myself?” That was the turning point for him. Then he started to look at the 12 steps, the idea of a higher power returning him to sobriety – which wasn’t exactly something he could believe in. But then, when it came time to move a big log over a creek, he asked his peers to help him. It dawned on him that was the higher power he’d been looking for. The help from his group enabled him to accomplish something he could not do by himself.
Now “David” sees himself as a good person after all. Gone are the times when nobody believed in him. “I wouldn’t have believed in myself either”, he says, as he patiently works on busting a coal while keeping tinder nearby. The group will cook together tonight. They learned that when they pool their food they eat better meals. Some of his more curious peers approach him and form a circle around him. I throw out a question to all of them: How are your parents doing while you’re here in treatment? They reply that their families have changed too. “Josh” says that before coming to wilderness, his parents said and acted as though he was the problem, and that he alone needed to change. But his therapist at the wilderness program worked with them and now they work on issues as a family – for example, they have slowed their drinking. They know how hard “Josh” is trying to clean up and remain sober, so they want to try as well. This prescient kid says “sometimes, even parents need a wake-up call”.
Many wilderness and therapeutic boarding schools offer an “after-care” program once the students are released, just to make sure that parents are continuing to provide the structure, support and resources within the home and community, especially during the transitions from wilderness to home, when kids are still vulnerable to triggers and could relapse.
Research shows that for some kids, if they are motivated and supported in their sobriety, they can go home and succeed after just two months of wilderness. However, most of them will need to enroll in a therapeutic boarding school, because when teens go back home to the same conditions, same set of friends as before, it’s easy to relapse. Unfortunately, these programs are very expensive. The per diem cost is from $400 and up per day. Therapeutic Residential schools can run from $6000 to $7,500 on up per month. Parents are paying for a very high level of therapeutic care tailored to each teen. Each group has 6 to 8 teens and as many and more trained staff members who provide safety, innovative therapies and comprehensive care that empower teens to grow emotionally, physically and spiritually. As expensive as they are, they are worth every penny. Many students hobble though high school only to become more addicted and worse off when they start college. The collegiate campus is fertile ground for addiction. Families find it useful to review several options that fit the needs of their teen. For example, a student may need to focus on social skills and building relationships while another may need a wilderness expedition to build leadership skills and overcome fear and anxiety. Each program uses different modalities of treatment at various costs. It’s important to invest in teens while they are young, while their physiological brain is still developing. While their brain is in the plasticity stage, teens can establish new, healthy neural pathways. The benefits can last a lifetime
C. Claire Law, M.S. is an educational consultant on Daniel Island, or [email protected] trained in identifying the best-fit college, boarding school or wilderness/therapeutic program for teens ages 13-17.

Why the SAT Isn’t a ‘Student Affluence Test’

I am not convinced that SAT scores are not correlated to family income. However, this opinion article in the Wall Stree Journal ( talks about correlations of income and IQ (mother's) to student SAT scores. I wonder how the author came to pick that particular variable – the mother’s IQ - that coincidentally works in favor of his argument- and how can he say that all other variable don’t need to come up for consideration? Seems like forcing a simple conclusion to a highly complex issue. In The Wall Street Journal, Charles Murray writes that a lot of the apparent income effect on standardized tests is owed to parental IQ—a fact that needs addressing.

The Charleston (SC) area Justice Ministry, a network of 27 faith-based congregations, met last night at the Church of the Holy Communion to continue their work to make Charleston SC a more just community for all. Rabbi Stephanie Alexander of Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim Synagogue and Rev. Nelson B. Rivers II, of Charity Missionary Baptist Church called the session to order. The updates for last few years’ initiative to lower school suspensions were very positive. Studies show that suspended and expelled students are less likely to graduate from high school and end up in prison, so Charleston District Schools were encouraged to use “restorative justice” rather than “punitive justice”. Six middle schools and five elementary schools were targeted in 2012 for an ongoing study whereby the teachers are trained in PBIS or Personal Behavioral Intervention System which shows students what are the school’s expectations, de-escalates harm and creates a more positive learning environment. Dr. Lisa Herring from the Charleston County School District reported on improved ethical and accurate reporting practices, better collection of PBIS measures, discipline steps designed to increase cooperation and respect, and said more staff members being trained in behavioral intervention which in turn changes the culture of the school. The following are the results for the selected PBIS schools:
Averaged Out of School Suspension Rates in Ten Selected PBIS Schools:
A Comparison of 201202913 Academic Year and 2014 Fall Academic Term
School Name 2012-2013 OSS Suspension Rate 2013-2014 OSS Suspension Rate 2014 Fall OSS Suspension Rate*
Morningside Middle –ARMS (Boys) 51% 36% went down to: 19%
Morningside Middle-Excel (Girls) 28% 20% went down to 12%
Haut Gap Middle 18% 22% went down to 7%
Jerry Zucker Middle 42% 20% went down to7%
Northwoods Middle 35% 31% went down to 13%
West Ashley Middle 19% 21% went down to13%
Chicora Elementary 14% 16% went down to13%
Burn Elementary 22% 25% went down to3%
Memminger Elementary 15% 16% went down to4%
North Charleston Elementary 15% 11% increased to 18%
Sanders-Clyde Elementary 13% 17% went down to2%

*Note that the final column’s suspension rate percentages only account for one semester of the school year, and so will change as the school year continues.
This data on suspensions and expulsions can be seen on the Charleston County School Board website. These stats are posted quarterly though the names of the students are of course kept confidential and are known only to the principal and teachers of the individual school.
After this positive report on the successful lowering of school suspensions using PBIS and restorative practices, the focus turned on illegal wage practices. We heard from Austin, a young man who was cheated out of his wages when he worked for a restaurant.
Find Charleston Area Justice Ministry on FB. Follow on [email protected]_CHS or visit

January 29, 2015 Chip and Claire Law visited with Hollins University’s President Nancy Gray who came to visit Charleston SC, along with her admission staff, Anna Moncure and Stephanie Niles, Ed.D VP of Enrollment Management and Marketing.
ESTJ President Nancy Gray says Hollins women get lots of hands-on, practical experience. (S-oriented school). Sciences are hands-on (e.g.professor takes students outdoors to collect samples). Also in attendance was Hollins alumna, Arden, who graduated from Hollins in 2012, is now working in Charleston, gives guided tours on horse-drawn carts, rides horses, and paints. President Nancy Gray highlighted their growing and excellent theatre program that won 14 national awards. They pick dramatic lit pieces that teach best female roles. She formalized mentoring opportunities and established a hands-on partnership with Mill Mountain theater company in Roanoke, VA. Hollins still offers small classrooms, lots internships, and opportunities for students to develop leadership skills.

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