Sleep Training and the College Admissions Process: Different Ages, Same Lesson

Did anyone else have kids that were awful sleepers as babies? I was always so envious of parents whose babies slept all night or woke up just once or twice.

That is NOT how things went in my house! When I had my daughter, I thought there must be something wrong with her because she just wouldn’t sleep. It was like she was nocturnal or something. Then I had my son and realized that maybe my daughter wasn’t quite so bad after all.

Election Night 2016. A terrible night in every respect! We found out later that he had acid reflux.

Election Night 2016. A terrible night in every respect! We found out later that he had acid reflux.

He routinely screamed all night long. Every night. For months. It was extremely unpleasant and ultimately got to a point where I just couldn’t take it anymore.

As soon as he was old enough to sleep train, we sought the guidance of a sleep trainer who we also used with my daughter five years earlier. (If anyone knows a parent with an infant, her name is Suzy Giordano and an hour with her is probably the best gift you could ever give someone).

I can honestly say that this woman saved my sanity and my marriage. Probably more than that. My business. Everything. I could not function because I was not getting any sleep and had to work all day.

So now that I have finished singing her praises, I will tell you that Suzy is not cheap. At all. I gave her information to a friend in an equally awful situation, and she was appalled that I would pay so much for sleep training. She clearly thought the sleep deprivation had gotten to my head.

Don’t get me wrong - I know she’s expensive, obscenely expensive. I am not the kind of person who routinely pays people $500/hr to do things for me, let’s put it that way. But the one thing I learned from paying Suzy Giordano was the difference between cost and value.

Let’s think of the value that woman brought to my life. I am not exaggerating when I say that I would have taken out a second mortgage on my home at that point to get some sleep. I was in a seriously desperate situation. Paying Suzy $500/hr actually represented an incredible value when you consider how working with her turned my life around. She was worth sooooo much more than we paid.

Recently I had a mother ask me to tell her point blank why my team is worth the cost of the prices we charge. In almost a decade, no one has ever actually asked me that.

After thinking about it more, I decided we probably weren’t worth it for every family. I’m being honest. There are definitely cheaper options out there - much cheaper - particularly if you’re willing to work with someone that doesn’t have college admissions experience but has helped their own child, or maybe knows absolutely nothing about college admissions but is a good writer who can help with essays.

If your situation meets all of these criteria, you are reading correctly - we are not worth the cost. Find someone cheaper!

  • Your student already knows exactly how and where he wants to apply and the schools aren’t all crazy reaches (I say this because someone who only wants to apply to crazy reaches has a very high likelihood of ending up at NOVA when they don’t get in anywhere at all. Then they call me in May and the whole family is in tears and can’t figure out what went wrong. Every year this happens.) I’m talking about the straight-A kid with a 35 ACT who is involved in every activity under the sun and applying ED to UVA/ED II to William & Mary, as well as a number of other safer options. No out-of-the-box strategy or tough conversations about being realistic needed. Just write strong essays and make sure that the recommendations and applications are also done well.

  • Your student is 100% (or at least 95%) motivated and does not need constant reminders to stay on task. You tell him that he needs 20 essays by August 1, he is able to self-regulate his time while meeting with a tutor once per week for extra help, and has 20 perfect essays ready to go on July 30. This kid does not need Rebeccah reminding him multiple times per week about every individual task he needs to finish in order to meet his ultimate goal and then checking up to make sure he completed each of them.

  • Your student appreciates constructive criticism from his parents and takes it at face value without giving pushback or needing an intermediary to deliver tough messages. No fighting. “Thanks for your input, Mom! I’ll make that edit right away!”

  • Your student is good at developing original ideas (he doesn’t have to be amazing in terms of style- you can hire a writing tutor on the side to help with that - but somebody familiar with the school, without the voice of a 50-year-old mom, has got to be able to help with content creation for that 600-word “Why College X” essay!).

  • Your student has taken detailed notes from every college visit, is a regular on “College Confidential” and generally understands the specific unwritten requirements that many individual schools have. Yes, that means that the “Why Columbia” supplement needs to reference the core curriculum and the “Why Penn” supplement needs to reference the city of Philadelphia.

Okay, so I was kidding a little bit about having a teenager that appreciates constructive parental criticism, but other than that, there really are families out there whose kids meet the other criteria. They typically do not work with me on an ongoing basis but I see them for strategy sessions.

For the other 90% of families, it’s important to consider the difference between cost and value. College is likely the most important investment you will make as a parent - ever. I’ve written about this before in our FAQ: while we are not the cheapest option in town, there is absolutely zero question that we provide the best value.

P.S. My friend’s kid did not sleep through the night until 18 months. Mine did by 5 months. She will be hiring Suzy the next time around.