Tell Us About Yourself.
I was born and raised in Forest Hills, Queens and graduated cum laude from NYU's Steinhardt School of Culture, Eduation, and Human Development. All throughout college, I worked closely with high school students from all over New York to help them get into colleges and secure scholarships. One year after graduating from NYU, I devoted myself full time to tutoring and helping kids navigate the college admissions process. I then obtained my law degree from Hofstra University and passed the NYS bar exam on my first try, becoming a fully licensed attorney. My overall goal for becoming a lawyer was not to practice law but rather to use my legal knowledge to serve as a catalyst for change within the education system.
You hold a BS in Communications from NYU Steinhardt. What drew you to this field? What about the coursework that Steinhardt provided resonated with you?
I've always had a passion for education (my mother taught art and music at a local public school for many years, so perhaps teaching was in my blood). I knew I would always work with people, and studying communications was a perfect fit. I also took courses in the Stern School of Business, where I learned about Marketing and Economics. During my junior year, I travelled to Italy with NYU through the Steinhardt Dean's Scholar program. My studies at NYU taught me practical, real world skills that continue to resonate with me. I absolutely loved being a Steinhardt student; though NYU has thousands and thousands of kids, Steinhart was a small family. I keep in touch with many of my peers still today.
After law school, you founded Kweller Prep, Inc., an advanced tutoring center to help students and their families navigate the competitive college admission process and prep them for their standardized tests. What inspired you to take a different track and start this center?
My years at NYU were transformative. Attending a top university with nearly 40,000 students is an experience unlike any other. I really aspired to give kids - smart, ambitious kids-the tools they needed to get into an amazing college, like NYU. I wasn't your typical law school student either. I sought a law degree knowing that I would not practice law in a courtroom, but rather planned to use the knowledge gained from such a powerful degree to help transform the education system. Kweller Prep is one of the first steps in that direction. I am also a columnist for Education Update Magazine. On top of that, I am writing a book, entitled "Harvard Doesn't Just Happen".
In more detail, Kweller Prep is a one-stop shop. Starting from grade 9, we help students select their high school courses. Our team assists with AP's, suggests what classes to take, and registers students for the SATs and subject tests. During the summer between junior and senior years, we help our students work on their college applications. Later, we enter into a tedious scholarship search. Our team also offers guidance in building first-time resumes and preparing for college interviews. In short, we make good students great and great ones remarkable!
Why do kids need a program like Kweller Prep when applying to college?
High school college counselors are swamped. Some have as many as 1,000 students to one counselor. Those ratios just don't work. Their school teachers are well meaning, but are not professional guides and oftentimes give detrimental advice to students regarding the college application process. This is where the tutoring center really steps in. We help kids determine what their real options are. Both students and parents come to Kweller Prep, not only for test prep, but also for very specific answers and detailed guidance regarding the high school and college admissions processes. We do our utmost to provide exceptional support services, experience, and guidance. This is a critical time when parents and students unite. There may be a disconnect in years prior, but no more. The college application process is exhaustive and extensive. It requires discussing family history, student goals, and financials. We do a lot of handholding with both the kids and parents.
What is your proudest achievement?
Overall, I am extremely proud of the work I do helping amazing kids and their incredible families reach their educational dreams. I strive to secure amazing scholarships and stellar college admissions for truly outstanding students. This work, however, is not achieved on my own; I have an amazing team comprised of tutors and counselors from both NYU and Columbia University. These tutors have received perfect or nearly perfect SAT scores, and are extremely dedicated to our students.
What has been one of your happiest moments at Kweller Prep?
When I received dozens of text messages from kids and their parents on high school graduation day, thanking me for my help and allowing me to share in their happiness and celebrations, I knew that the work I was doing was truly impacting the lives of so many deserving people. Moments like this make my job gratifying and so very fulfilling.
I also love when I have the opportunity to hire former NYU students and watch them "pass the torch." Our staff at Kweller is made up entirely of either NYU or Columbia graduates. Kweller Prep loves hiring tutors who are the first ones in their families to go to a top university, as that is our major customer base.
What are your secrets to success?
In general, it is crucial to maintain a positive attitude and to learn to hear the word "no" over and over, while never forgetting to follow your dreams, no matter how crazy they may seem. Without that drive and dedication, you will never reach your maximum potential.
Part of your job at Kweller Prep is working with parents. What advice would you give to them as they navigate the college application process with their children?
START EARLY! Get your kids excited about the college admissions process! Work with them and visit colleges together. This is such an exciting time in their lives. Enjoy it!
And to Steinhardt alumni?
As Nike says, "Just do it!" Don't over analyze or doubt your dreams! We are NYU Grads! We are capable of anything!
To learn more about Kweller Prep, visit www.KwellerPrep.com or contact Frances Kweller, J.D. directly at 800-631-1757 or info@KwellerPrep.com. The company has also launched an SAT in a Day program based in Manhattan. Visit www.ColumbiaScholarsPrep.com for details.