Laurie Kopp Weingarten is a Certified Educational Planner and President of One-Stop College Counseling. She graduated with a BSE from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and received an MBA from Harvard Business School.
Beginning with ninth graders, Laurie guides students through each stage of the college admissions process. She covers high school course selection, standardized test choices, extra-curricular activity enhancement, volunteer work, summer jobs/internships, college list creation, essay topic selection, resume guidance, early decision/early action strategies and all other situations that arise during the high school years!
For over two decades, Laurie was an alumna interviewer for the University of Pennsylvania, meeting with students from various areas of the country. She applies this experience by coaching her students on how to improve their interview skills, whether it’s for summer internships or college admission. She is passionate about helping students reach their full academic and extra-curricular potential.
Laurie visits colleges and universities regularly and speaks directly with admissions officers to remain up-to-date on current admissions policies and practices.
Awarded the CEP by the American Institute of Certified Educational Planners (AICEP), Laurie has been recognized for achieving the highest level of competence in her field. Laurie is a professional member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA), and she is a member of the Higher Education Consultants Organization (HECA), the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), the New Jersey Association for College Admission Counseling (NJACAC), and the Pennsylvania Association for College Admission Counseling (PACAC). She is also a proud member of the Character Collaborative.
On a personal note, Laurie is married and has two children who, in the time it takes to blink, suddenly became young adults. One graduated from Princeton (2018), and the other graduated (virtually) from the University of Pennsylvania (2020).
Where did the idea for One-Stop College Counseling come from?
I’m fortunate that I turned my hobby into a career! Even back in high school, I was fascinated by the college admission process, and I’d spend hours researching the schools and their admission criteria. During college, I volunteered for the University of Pennsylvania admissions office, became a tour guide, and then, after completing college, served as an alumni interviewer for decades. Although my job at the time was in marketing, I remained passionate about college admissions and kept up-to-date with current trends. Then I got married and chose to pause my career so that I could focus on raising my children.
Years later, when I felt ready to return to work, I had no idea what type of career I should pursue. I started to reflect on how I was always interested in college admissions. I discovered that a field existed for consultants to work with teens to help them demystify and navigate the college admission process. For decades I read all I could about admissions, and suddenly my passion looked like it could become my career!
And that’s what happened. In 2012 I co-founded a business, One-Stop College Counseling, and it’s been a success. We have grown every year! And I truly love what I do 🙂
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My typical day is busy! When I wake up, I spend an hour reading the latest college admission news. It’s hard to believe there’s that much news about college each day, but there is! Then, as long as I don’t have any meetings, I begin reading my emails. Between my clients (students and parents), my talklist networks (college counseling groups), admission officer blogs/updates, and the numerous other college-related items that appear in my inbox, it takes me about two hours to read and answer the daily emails. Next, I get to work on whatever task I’ve planned for the day. In the fall, I’m primarily focused on seniors: editing essays and resumes and strategically finalizing college lists. We’re heading into the winter now, where I’ll be concentrating on creating a balanced list of colleges for each junior.
I try to find 30-minutes to exercise, and then I often have either webinars with college admission officers or meetings with students in the late afternoon or evening. To make sure I’m productive, I map out my days in advance, and I check my schedule throughout the day to make sure I’m staying on track.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Determination! If I have an interesting idea, I put in on my calendar, and I make sure I get to it within the next few days. Otherwise, it will never come to fruition.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Although this pandemic has been difficult, it’s been much easier for me to connect with admission officers (they aren’t traveling right now), and it’s been so wonderful to see students able to “visit” a college without leaving their home. The colleges have all increased their virtual offerings, and it’s been terrific for students. I hope many of the online options continue even once things return to normal.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
No matter how busy I am, I make sure that I keep in touch with my colleagues. We often share information and offer advice.
What advice would you give your younger self?
For many years, I lost touch with some of my college and business school networking groups. I was focused on raising my children, and I forgot the value of keeping up with my peers. I’m active in multiple Wharton, Harvard Business School, and Penn groups, and they are invaluable!
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Can’t think of anything—I’m pretty persuasive!
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
It’s so important to devote time to working ON my business and not just IN my business. Obviously, since I’m doing something I love, it’s easier and more enjoyable to focus on the things that excite me—helping my students. But it’s also important to keep up-to-date with current happenings in order to evolve.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
My business is primarily word-of-mouth. We don’t advertise. So we provide a gift card to all our clients who refer us. I also write articles or create short videos on relevant topics; it reinforces my expertise in the industry.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
There were a few years where I hit capacity really early, and had to turn two years of students away. That was terrible for business because I didn’t just lose that student—I lost their sibling, cousin, neighbor, friends, and other future recommendations. I worked hard to increase capacity so that wouldn’t happen again.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
When I first started One-Stop, I didn’t want to take much of a financial risk; after all, you never know if a new business is going to succeed. I found a business partner (my co-founder) who could mitigate some of the risk. She already had spare office space, phone numbers, assistants, and other start-up procedures in place from a related type of business. So if the worst case scenario occurred and we had no clients for a while, I would not be stuck with a lease and other expenses. Although our business took off very quickly, it gave me piece of mind to not have to worry about expenses.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I purchased a very pretty silver necklace that looks beautiful and substantial on my Zoom calls! And during Covid-19, all of my work is virtual right now. As an added benefit, I’m a jewelry lover, so I enjoyed selecting the perfect item!
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I use College Planner Pro (CPP), a platform that allows me to input students notes, information, and also serves as a college data source.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I’m all about college admission, even in my spare time! I recommend Jeffrey Selingo’s Who Gets In and Why: A Year Inside College Admissions. The author spent a year inside the admission office of three colleges, and it offers valuable information to families.
What is your favorite quote?
Every College is Wonderful for Someone:
No College is Wonderful for Everyone.
(I have a beautiful hanging sign in my office with that quote)
• Collaborate and brainstorm ideas with your colleagues. Many heads are better than one!
• Keep up with current news and trends in order to remain relevant.
• Don’t be static: evolve and innovate.
• To borrow a phrase from Nike, and one I often convey to my students, “Just Do It!”