About Us

We hope that you can join the hundreds of our student clients in the United States and from around the world who have won admission to top colleges and universities in the U.S. This year alone, our students entered such reputed institutions as the University of Pennsylvania, Dartmouth, Cornell, Carnegie Mellon, Duke, the University of Michigan, Rice, the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign, UT Austin, Texas A & M, the University of  Utah, the University of Minnesota, USC, the University of Virginia, and Virginia Tech.

We offer world-class college counseling services at extremely reasonable rates (see fees section below). 

If you live in the Dallas area, you could come to us or we could come to you at a nominal fee to cover gas and tolls ($25 per visit). For other families worldwide, we use secure video conferencing (Zoom, Skype) along with cloud-based technologies for of our popular one-on-one counseling sessions.

Our lead counselor is Rajkamal Rao, the founding Managing Director of the firm.  Please check out his bio here
Check out our public reviews on Google or feel free to ask any of our 1,000+ followers on our Facebook page.

If you have questions, please contact us. We promise to be not only responsive but also to provide you with outstanding service. 
To schedule a 1-hour counseling session with Rajkamal Rao, our Managing Director, please click here
Or you may contact us on WhatsApp. 
Or by email at rajkamal.rao@raoadvisors.com. 
Or on mobile: +1.682.772.8749.

U.S. High School Families
What do you get as part of individual counseling?

We like to think of ourselves as the Amazon of college counseling!   We provide a full suite of services - high school course planning, college readiness, college selection, and admissions strategies, financial planning, advice for demonstrating student interest in colleges, structured essay reviews - from when your child is in the 8th grade to when the last college admissions offer is received.

We create a detailed customized roadmap for each child for all remaining high school years including structured plans for how to spend summer months, when best to schedule the various tests, how to prepare for tests at the lowest cost and how to free up a student's time so that there is sufficient school-life balance.
Plus each family receives our popular, proprietary 230-page guide to elite college admissions which is the content source for our public appearances, book, and flagship online courses.  Families have free access to this website along with regular updates on our Facebook page.  Finally, families can join our growing WhatsApp community of over 225 parents.

The following is a sample list of topics we cover during our sessions, tailored to the needs of your student.
  1. How do we define a student’s interests and develop a personal brand?
  2. Which high school courses/tracks/endorsements/DLAs/PA’s should we aim for?
  3. What are dual credit courses and what are the benefits?
  4. pSAT/SAT/ACT/All? When?
  5. Should I send my child to a test-prep academy for the SAT/ACT?
  6. How important is the PSAT-11?
  7. Should I take SAT-II (Subject)? When?
  8. What is the difference between unweighted and weighted GPAs?
  9. My friend's school district uses a more generous scale of GPA bonus weights. Is this fair to me? 
  10. How important is class rank for college admissions?
  11. If Naviance sends out unweighted GPA scores to colleges, how will colleges know that I took tough courses?
  12. What's the college pricing ladder?
  13. What's the difference between counselor and teacher recommendations?
  14. What's my chance of obtaining a merit scholarship in college?
  15. AP/IB/Both? When? How many AP courses?
  16. What is AP Capstone and why is it so popular?
  17. How to develop a brag sheet?
  18. How do we balance work experience/internship/extracurricular activities into the student profile?
  19. How do we exploit the Coalition’s free tools?
  20. What are key planning milestones, grades 9 – 12? 
  21. Which states/regions to avoid because co-op/internship chances may be fewer?
  22. Why may an out of state private college be less expensive than studying in-state?
  23. How much should we rely on college rankings?
  24. Which reputed resources are the best to conduct college research?
  25. Which types of colleges should we avoid?
  26. What are three innovative ways to lower college costs?
  27. How do we group colleges into Dream, Core, and Safe buckets?
  28. What selection factors are relevant to finalizing colleges?
  29. What’s the difference between Subjective & Objective pieces of an application?
  30. How do we analyze Net Price Estimates?
  31. How do we conduct scholarship searches?
  32. From whom should we get recommendation letters?
  33. How do we maximize the potential of a LinkedIn profile?
  34. Common App or Universal College App or Coalition App or individual college app?
  35. What application strategies should we employ - Rolling, EA or ED?
  36. What modern tools can we use to predict and improve college acceptance?
  37. What online tools can we leverage to visit schools?
  38. How do you prepare for campus visits?
  39. How can we help you successfully write winning college essays?
  40. What social networking tools can we employ to learn about others’ profiles?
  41. How does America pay for college?
  42. How to leverage new FAFSA rules, including the IRS Data Retrieval Tool?
  43. How to take advantage of federal tax credits and deductions?
  44. How to avoid making common mistakes throughout the process? 
  45. How expensive are professional counselors?
  46. How many times should I take the SAT/ACT?
  47. How do you prepare teenage children for the summer vacation?
  48. How important is the STAAR test? 
  49. How do you prepare for AP Physics? 
  50. How do we fine-tune our teenager's high school course roadmap?
  51. Why are Advanced Placement (AP) Courses So Important? 
  52. Is taking a dual credit course a good idea? 
  53. How to improve the strength of the high school curriculum?
  54. Is an International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma a good choice?
  55. Does a "good" school district mean your high school student will be successful?
  56. How to interpret PSAT-11 scores for National Merit Scholarships?
  57. Should High School Students Audit a Class?
  58. Can you give us a primer on College Essays?
  59. How do you send transcripts to colleges? 

Fees (U.S. High School Families)

All one-on-one sessions are billable. We remind clients who book an appointment online that
there will be a fee for our session based on the fee tier and the session duration. 

With us, you pay by the hour (drink).  You can hire us for just one hour during your child's high school years or 20 hours - the choice is totally up to you.

Our rate card is simple. [If you have any questions about our services, please contact us before booking the appointment. We appreciate your understanding!]
  • Tier A. If you hire us on demand (and for a one-off task), our rate is $119/hour. 1 hour-minimum. Calls longer than 1 hour will be prorated to the nearest 5 minutes.

  • Tier B. 11th & 12th graders:  Our rate is $109/hour. 1 hour-minimum. Calls longer than 1 hour will be prorated to the nearest 5 minutes.  

  • Tier C. Younger grades:   Our rate is $99/hour. 1 hour-minimum. Calls longer than 1 hour will be prorated to the nearest 5 minutes.

  • We will honor the same rate until your student graduates from high school. That is - if you come to us when your child is in the 8th grade, we will honor our Tier C rates right through your child's high school graduation.

  • The rates above assume that you pay by Zelle, Apple Pay, cash, bank deposit, or check. Credit card payments involve an additional bank fee.

  • College counseling generally requires both online sessions (in-person, video, phone and chat conversations - any medium where we are engaged with you to address questions specific to your case), and off-line sessions (such as during essay/resume reviews or course planning).

    For offline work, we can provide an estimate if you so request. In such cases, we will only begin work after getting your approval.

    Questions asked on public boards (like our Facebook page or on our WhatsApp group) are usually not billable because these are deemed general questions.

Our business model is to provide you with as much public information as you want for free - via our popular posts on this website, Facebook page, and public seminars. We only charge when you engage with us for one-on-one help, either online or offline. But you control how much you want to engage, down to the hour. This allows you to better budget your spend. It is one reason we are so popular with our clients.

We work hard to win your trust.  We are responsive, often getting back to you in a matter of minutes.  Our workday begins at 7 AM and ends at 11 PM.  We're open on weekends and holidays.  We counsel by Skype.  We make house calls and discuss your child's situation in the comfort of your living room for a small per-visit surcharge.  Our essay review process is among the best - after all, the lead reviewer is a weekly international columnist for India's second-largest financial newspaper!

Fees for International Students (attending U.S. graduate schools)
What do you get as part of individual counseling?

  • Summary: Up to 1½ hours of one-on-one counseling in a private, secure video conferencing environment.  [No free introductory counseling minutes].  We make extensive use of Google Apps for Business in the cloud and email.  All interactions are secured using 128-bit encryptionOur package fee, which includes all the services indicated by the bullet points below and the development of one Master SOP, is $449.

    [In some cases - such as changes of major - it is difficult to finalize an SOP for the above fee and additional hours of service may have to be purchased. See the last bullet item in this section].

    Payment terms are half upfront before our first call and the balance before we release your SOP. We only accept credit card payments from international clients and our bank assesses a 4.9% transaction fee.

  • Branding:  We will help you define your profile and interests, identify your higher education needs and evaluate other options.  For example, if you are a Mechanical Engineer, should you be studying in Germany where tuition is free?   

  • Field Selection Strategies (i.e. map interests to careers):  We provide advice regarding the field of study that best exploits US market conditions.  For example, should you consider a Professional Science Masters program in the US?  Which industries are hot?  What are work visa restrictions?  For example, it is not a good idea to pursue Aerospace Engineering because many jobs require US citizenship.

  • Find US States and regions that are economically strong:  Not all US states are equal.  We will help you find company concentrations and job clusters in hot states and regions.  The premise is that if you are educated at a college nearby, you will become a local candidate with specific skills and thereby more easily get an internship or a job.

  • Find Colleges: We will counsel you on college selection of up to 12 schools using a combination of your profile, hot regions, college rankings and desired course availability - diversified into three groups (dream, core and safe).  [If the only assistance you want from us is our college shortlisting and selection service, our price is $99. This is an offline service so there are no audio or video communications with the client.]

  • Subjective Criteria Strategies: We will counsel you on how to write strong SOPs and optimize your recommendation letter strategies.  We provide advice regarding composing resumes and cover letters, including providing you with free templates to make it easier.

  • Work Flow and Task Plan: We will provide you with a detailed checklist of when to do what until you are ready to apply for your visa. This website from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is an excellent resource for visa information. We will also provide two detailed original presentations with all the information you need to be successful.  Most slides are linked to our website for additional detail.

  • Statement of Purpose (SOP) Review:  We will professionally review and make offline edits to no more than three essay revisions for the master SOP.  Note that your SOPs will only be reviewed by our founder, Rajkamal Rao, who is an accomplished author of 4 books.  [Mr. Rao is an international columnist for The Hindu BusinessLine, India's second-largest financial newspaper.  Click here for an archive of his opinion pieces.   He has also been writing a weekly column, "World View", for the paper's online portal for MBA students since April 2015]. We don't review cover letters and resumes. Some restrictions apply.

    Other SOP-related services

    If the only assistance you need from us is to review your master SOP, our fees are $289. Our SOP product is 100% tailor-made to your profile. We use Grammarly Premium to edit your essays for correctness, clarity, engagement, and delivery - and for plagiarism checks.

    You will also get all of our flagship guides including how to first compose a strong first draft of an SOP, how to successfully apply to U.S. graduate schools, and how to pursue higher education in Europe and Commonwealth countries. This is an offline service so there are no audio or video communications with the client.

    Our terms are simple. As soon as you submit your profile, we will bill you for half the payment. Once we receive confirmation of payment, we will send you our guides. If you have selected the Find Colleges option, we will send you this information within 24 hours.

    As soon as you send us your first draft of your SOP, we will bill you for the second half of the payment. We will begin the work and inform you that we're ready with the product - within 48 hours during the workweek and 72 hours over the weekend. We are often able to work faster than this window.

    You pay the balance and we release the product to you as soon as we receive confirmation of payment.

    We only accept credit card payments from international clients and our bank assesses a 4.9% transaction fee.

  • Additional Hours:  You can buy additional hours of counseling (including for visa advice) at $99/hour.

Are Private Counselors Necessary?  How Much Do They Charge?

Hiring a counselor is a private decision but increasingly, a lot of US families are doing just this. 

According to the U.S. Department of Education data, in 2015-16, each public school counselor was responsible for 476 students, on average. In 2013, the counselor-student ratio in Texas averaged 1:470. How can high school students hope to get personal service with such lopsided ratios?  

According to Ruth Starkman of Stanford, in 2013, 26 percent of all college applicants — three times as many as in 2003, hired a “private admissions consultant” or an “independent educational consultant (IEC)” to assist with their college applications.
Crimson Education, a company that uses young "tutors" to help families navigate the college admissions jungle told USA TODAY in December 2019 that it charges between $5,000 and $10,000. Mark Sklarow, CEO of the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA), says that consultants charge an average rate of $160/hour.   Typical cost: $4,500 spread out over 3 years.  The typical client is a middle-class or upper-middle-class student in a public school.  

While we charge only by the hour, our typical cost totals 18 - 20 hours of commercial engagement with us over 3 years - about $1,900. 

Why Are Our Fees Low?

Our fees are much lower because we are an online company that can pass savings on to you.  For example, we don't rent expensive office space or hire needless overhead resources.  We don't advertise - all our growth is from word-of-mouth client referrals for which we are forever grateful.

We conduct most of our business online using cloud tools, lowering our costs of delivery.  We reach a global audience and our volumes are higher.  We earn revenue through ads on our site which further help subsidize your fees.  We get revenue from sales of our college selection book and our online courses.

Finally, our fees are structured to get you everything you need - from college selection strategies to completing the first full application to a school - for one low price.  But our pricing is flexible to accommodate those who want additional help.

We are also the Southwest Airlines of college counseling.  We hate to say "No" to our clients!

Questions?  Contact Us

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