In a Nutshell: It’s an undeniable truth that, on average, the higher your level of education, the greater your lifetime earnings will be. While there are certainly exceptions, it demonstrates the advantage of having a college degree, a graduate degree, or a professional degree when it comes to your earnings potential. For more than 20 years, the team at Accepted.com, which includes former admissions directors and applicant advisors from top universities, has helped college and graduate students gain admission to some of the most prestigious schools in the nation. Accepted provides free resources and guides, and assists prospective students in preparing for admissions interviews, developing their personal statements and essays, and advising them on how to best present themselves during the application and admissions process.
With all of the focus in recent years on college graduates leaving school with record levels of student debt, some might ask whether a degree is worth the cost. According to the New York Federal Reserve Bank, total student loan debt in the US is more than $1.3 trillion. That’s more than the total amount of credit card debt or the outstanding balance on car loans. The only higher debt load for American consumers is the amount owed on mortgages. So, is a degree worth the cost?
In almost every case, the answer to that question is a resounding yes. That’s because, over the course of a lifetime, the amount earned by college graduates vs. their non-college-educated peers far surpasses the total debt they incurred.
Put another way, the US Social Security Office of Retirement Policy estimates men with college degrees earn approximately $900,000 more in their lifetimes than those with only high school diplomas. What’s more, men with graduate-level degrees earn $1.5 million more than their high school-only counterparts. Women in the same categories earn slightly less than men do, but that’s a topic for a different discussion. Still, women with advanced degrees earn significantly more than less-credentialed women.
Few people know better the advantages of higher education on lifetime earnings potential than Linda Abraham, Founder and President of Accepted.com, a premier admissions consultancy for both graduate and undergrad programs.
Since 1994, Accepted has been helping clients optimize their applications and get into the schools and programs of their dreams. We recently spoke with Linda about Accepted and the ultra-competitive college and grad school admissions processes.
“When I started Accepted in the mid-1990s, I was working with graduate students at UCLA where I had earned my MBA,” she said. “Our first website went up in 1996, and it instantly removed all geographic boundaries. We now have over 20 consultants helping clients from all over the world, and we’re steadily growing.”
Admissions Experts Help Guide and Advise Applicants
The consultants and advisors available through Accepted include former admissions directors from a variety of top universities. Most of the staff has admissions committee experience, as well as applicant advisory experience — some with as much as 20 or 30 years in the field. Accepted lists the bios and qualifications of its consultants prominently on its website, so applicants can clearly see they are in good hands.
The job of Accepted’s admissions experts is to help candidates enhance their applications and get into the college, business school, medical school, law school, or graduate school they want. This involves admissions consulting, optimizing the application, assisting with essays and personal statements, and making sure a client is as prepared as possible.
“We also help them tell their story, which is where the personal statement and essays come in,” Linda said. “You want to add value to the rest of the application, and go deeper into things like motivation, lessons learned, etc. Also, you want to demonstrate your writing ability. These things all really supplement the tickets to entry, which are the grades and test scores.”
Accepted has helped clients gain entry into such prestigious schools as Harvard, Stanford, Columbia, MIT, Princeton, Yale, and hundreds of others. Typical accolades from successful candidates include statements like: “I found out just over a week ago that I was admitted to Harvard! Super exciting news — I definitely would not have been as successful without your help! Thank you for the practice and support!”
There are literally hundreds of testimonials like this on the site, all attesting to the care and expertise offered by Accepted’s admissions consultants.
Free Resources for a Head Start in the Application Process
In addition to its experts, students visiting the site have access to a range of free resources. This includes downloadable admissions guides for grad school candidates with titles like, “5 Fatal Flaws to Avoid in Your Grad School Statement,” and “Plotting Your Way to a PhD,” among many others. There is also a guide to grad school essay writing and sample essays for candidates to study.
One of the many things Linda is passionate about is her weekly podcast called, Admissions Straight Talk, where she interviews a variety of experts on topics of interest to grad school applicants. Linda has been recording these podcasts and making them available for many years and has hundreds of hours of interviews and advice for listeners.
“I’ve interviewed admissions directors, current students and recent graduates, test prep professionals, financial aid experts, even career placement professionals,” she said. “Graduate admissions, in particular, is, and should be, career driven. There are very few people who can afford a graduate degree if it doesn’t have financial benefits.”
This practical and pragmatic approach to the pursuit of advanced education was apparent throughout our discussion with Linda. When we asked her thoughts on the importance of education on earnings potential, she told us it’s wise to think of education as an investment.
“If you are interested in computer science, or business, or medicine, or any number of fields that have a financial payoff, then the additional education will enhance your earnings potential,” she said. “In this sense, it’s a good thing to do a cost/benefit analysis of the education you’re contemplating. If the enjoyment and the professional satisfaction, as well as the monetary payoff is positive, then go for it. Just do it with open eyes.”
Helping Students from Around the World Reach Their Goals
The higher education system in the United States remains the envy of the world, and advising students who want to attend colleges and universities here is really a global business. Accepted helps candidates from all over the world gain entry into the types of programs that can make their future careers.
Just like its clientele, the company’s consultants and advisors are spread throughout the world, as well. Perhaps not surprisingly, Linda told us that, in the vast majority of cases, Accepted communicates virtually with clients.
“We use Google Hangouts, as well as Skype and other video software to do our consultations,” she said. “We also do phone and email communications and follow-ups. It’s fairly rare that we meet with someone face to face. This is because our consultants and advisors are located all over the world.”
Taking all of this into consideration, the competition for acceptance to even midtier schools in recent years has become fierce. The use of admissions consultancies, such as Accepted, is likely to only increase as a result. For students not willing to risk their chance of admission with a subpar application, the team at Accepted is a key resource.