The End of This Path

It's with a dash of mourning but a dollop of peace that I'm sharing with you that Layman College Consulting will be closing at the end of the day on Thursday, October 31, 2019.* If you’re a past or present client, you should have already received an email with this news and how it affects you.

Here, I’m going to take some selfish time to appreciate all that this business has brought into my life. This part is more for my own sense of closure than for the reader’s benefit, but it’s here for you to enjoy as you like. I’m also going to expound upon the cascading causes that have led to my decision to close up shop, in case you’re curious.

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Starting Down This Path

Here’s a heartfelt “Thank You” to some of the people who really propped up my first year of independent, one-on-one test prep (which is how I got started: all SAT and ACT, all the time!).

Craig Johnson!

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By 2011, my former high school history and government teacher was an upper school administrator at Westminster Schools of Augusta (my alma mater). His unflagging support and guidance really made this business possible. We thought I might get three students my first year as the official test prep partner of WSA, but I had 25! What an amazing blessing! Craig continued to support my work with WSA students over his remaining years there, and he even had me come to his new school home, Calvary Christian School in Columbus, GA. What a great guy.

Becky Saxon (my mom)!

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Well, I certainly wouldn’t be here without my mom, but her role in my business goes beyond that of “proud mother.” My mom has been a bookkeeper, binder deliverer, practice test grader, and errand lady for Layman College Consulting. While I’m meeting with students virtually from Maryland, my mom is the “boots on the ground” in Augusta. Thanks, Mom!

Tricia Nixon!

I’m really not sure that my business would be where it is today without Tricia. While I was happily working away with only Westminster students, I got a call from a woman who had a daughter at another Augusta-area school. She had heard about me from a Westminster parent. Would I work with her daughter? And so, I got my first non-Westminster student. Today, about 70% of all students LCC works with are not from Westminster. But, other than Tricia sending me my first non-WSA student, why does she deserve a coveted spot here on this blog post? Because she just can’t stop telling people about me! When I get emails from new clients or calls from new clients, frequently they have been referred by Tricia or someone who knows her! This has been going on for nearly 8 years now. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Tricia. You’re a star. [Sadly, I do not have her photo, because that would be weird.]

Sights Along the Way

Now for a slapdash photo collection of highlights and other bits from my time in business! Click the photos and hover over them for more details (or click the little white dot in the corner on mobile).

In addition to all these personal experiences, I also added a team of Associate Tutors to Layman College Consulting starting in summer 2016 with Sarah Saxon (not pictured…she left LCC in spring of 2017 because of her full-time job) and Caitlin Montgomery (now Hubler). In summer 2017, Steph Tizik and Grace Casola joined us. All four of them have been a delight to work with!

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Bonus info: Grace and Caitlin plan to continue offering one-on-one test prep independently after LCC’s closure, so definitely contact one or both of them for more information if you’re looking for test prep!

At Journey’s End

For inquiring minds: Why throw out this whole, wonderful thing? Well, because some things about it aren’t so wonderful, and because there are other things in my life that are more wonderful. Here’s an explanation, in no particular order and without grammatical parallelism:

—Show love to small business owners you interact with. We have to deal with the government. This is not so wonderful. Next time you go to a locally-owned business, just give the owner a pat on the back…more of a “it will be okay; hang in there” pat rather than a “way to go buddy!” pat.

—My son is 7 years old, and my daughter is 5. I think this bullet point can stand alone.

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—But there’s more about those kids, beyond their mere existence being fairly wonderful (although I did just read an article that justified the occasional thought that it’s not always wonderful…): In February 2019, we pulled Mark from his private kindergarten, and I started homeschooling him! Now in September 2019, he’s over half-way through first grade (because homeschool), and my daughter will be starting kindergarten at home with us in January.

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—The College Board is not so wonderful. The ACT may be slightly less repugnant, but it’s still not in the make-the-world-a-better-place club. Doing test prep for over 13 years can wear on a person and is not so wonderful. Check out Fair Test for up-to-date lists of colleges that are test-optional.

—I’m pretty confident that this is the direction God wants me to go in. As the verse my parents picked out for my senior yearbook ad says, “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’” (Isaiah 30:21)

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My husband was recently named Software Architect for Doctor on Demand! This is a wonderful thing, both for him as a person and professional, but also for our family’s finances, making the decision to close up shop an easier one.

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—I have a weird ear and a weirder brain. The reader’s digest version is that, after 3 weeks of distorted hearing in my left ear in March 2019, my ENT told me I was stressed. Then after another 5 weeks of distorted hearing and 5 episodes of internal, brain-shaking vertigo, my primary care doctor gave me an order for a brain MRI and referred me to a neurologist. The next day, my hyperacusis (fancy name for ear issue) and vertigo episodes completely ceased. In June 2019, I learned from my neurologist that I have abnormalities in the white matter of my brain, and, frankly, he doesn’t really know what is going on. All very reassuring. He’s pretty confident I’m not going to die from them any time soon, so that’s great. I’ve had just a couple of days where the ear acted up, but I’ve done several ENT-suggested stress-relieving things and the issue went away quickly without a recurrence of the vertigo. This experience has not been so wonderful. The bottom line is that I firmly believe that I must reduce the stress in my life for my health’s sake. And do you know something that is kind of stressful? Running and materially participating in a small business (again, love your local small business owners!).

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—College admissions and college financing are not so wonderful. Yes, my goal is to help people through these things. But, really? It’s hard to tell a family to pay $60,000/year for a “good match college” when another “okay match college” is half the price, and an in-state option is even less. It’s hard to tell a student, “You would fit in so well at this school, and you would thrive there! It’s going to be nearly impossible for you to get in.” It’s hard to read stories about college admissions “scandals” [Aside: That word sounds so flippant for what is being talked about. More fitting would be “travesties” or “morality crises” or something of that nature.]. It’s hard to read about the Department of Justice’s interference with NACAC’s Code of Ethics. It’s also hard, as a reformed protestant Christian, to interact with colleagues who are hostile to my faith, in what is a generally liberal-leaning field. There are just a lot of things that are not so wonderful about being a consultant in this particular field.

To wrap up: There’s not just one reason; there are many. Some are more weighty than others, but they all add up to a decision to pull the plug on Layman College Consulting.

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That’s been my personal path with Layman College Consulting. Many thanks to you if you were part of it!

*Richmond County School System, I’m still here for you! If you read this, don’t freak out! Support for trained SAT teachers continues through our contract (June 30, 2020), and I’m also occasionally available for your in-person, school-sponsored classes. Contact me if you have questions or want an in-person SAT or ACT prep class at your high school!