Meet a Mom: Electra Reed! - Greenwich Moms

Tonight’s Meet a Mom is Electra Reed, founder of Electra Reed & Associates Independent Education Consultants. The goal of ERA is to assist their students with their high school and college applications and to create a profile for them that will enable each student to be admitted to the school of their choice. 

Having lived in Greenwich since right after Graduate School, and raising her son here, Electra has 30 years experience helping students in the Greenwich community apply to high schools and colleges. The practice is an intentionally small outfit and Electra personally works with every client and reads every part of each application.

Electra helps demystify when it’s right to hire an independent college consultant, when it’s too early to think about college (the process is constantly changing!) and her favorite admissions stories.

Can you please tell us a bit about yourself personally?
I am a native New Yorker, but grew up spending weekends and summers in our family home in Greenwich. After graduate school, I returned to live in Greenwich and raised my son here. I was educated at The Chapin School in New York, and St. Paul’s School, a boarding school in New Hampshire. I have undergraduate and graduate degrees in psychology from New York University and Columbia University.

Where do you live in Greenwich and what do you love about Greenwich and your neighborhood? 
Five generations of my family have lived in Greenwich! We have always lived in the back country save for very early years in Belle Haven. My father and my son attended Greenwich Country Day School. My son went to Rye Country Day for high school and is now a student at Bowdoin College.

For those of us who aren’t familiar, how would you describe Electra Reed and what makes it unique?
The goal of my private practice in education consulting is to assist our students with their high school and college applications and to create a profile for them that will enable each student to be admitted to the school of their choice. Each student’s application process involves test preparation, interview preparation, the development of their profile, and very, very importantly, their personal statement and supplemental essays. My practice is unique in that it is an intentionally small outfit. I personally work with every client and read every part of each application. My colleagues and I also work in teams to ensure we have a number of eyes on an application just the way admissions officers read them. Our clients also have direct personal access to a team member 24/7. We are a bespoke, customized, collaborative practice, using time tested principles for admissions and the highest of ethical standards.

Can you please share about your professional background and career highlights – how did you come to start Electra Reed?
I started ERA after many years of experience as a classroom teacher, educational therapist on a multidisciplinary team in a major hospital, extensive training at Windward School, years as an instructor of educational psychology at the Teachers College, Columbia University, and in private practice in Greenwich. Student after student consulted with me on how to be admitted to top tier schools. My dream was always to work one on one with students and their families to achieve their educational goals. Dreams do come true!

How do you know if you need to hire an independent college consultant?
The admissions process at all levels has frankly become intensely competitive, political and stressful. The advantage of having professional guidance is immeasurable. One of the key strategies of our success is that we guide a student’s application from the perspective of admissions officers. We help make the process manageable, maybe even a bit enjoyable. You and your child will come to know a great deal about yourselves and will not feel so alone.

I have young children but I feel like people are already talking about high school and college admissions! Why should we not be worried about college admissions yet?
Do not listen to the people who talk about high school and college admissions when their children are in elementary school. These people are needlessly anxious, uber competitive, and mostly uninformed. They are typically the first NOT to be admitted to the schools of their choice. Admissions processes are changing by the minute. Prepare to get hip to what is happening in college admissions as your child enters tenth grade in high school. If you are considering applying to an independent high school, get informed about that process as your child enters grade 6.
Do not spend a moment worrying needlessly. Instead, get calm, experienced advice, and enjoy every moment of having a young child at home.

What do you find the most challenging and most rewarding parts of being an independent education consultant?
By far the biggest challenge for me and my team are unrealistic expectations on the part of parents. There are simply no short-cuts to admissions at top tier schools. Our student’s applications shine because we can help them find their own unique voice and strengths. The most rewarding part of our work is the connections we make and maintain with our students and their families. We all love working with young people. Their future happiness is our primary concern and we are devoted to each student’s success.

You seem to have a deep knowledge and expertise, if you could give someone applying one piece of advice, what would it be?
The most valuable pearl of wisdom I can share after working with hundreds of families over thirty years is from Mr. Rogers: “If the day ever comes when we are able to accept ourselves and our children exactly as we and they are then I believe we would have come very close to an ultimate understanding of what “good parenting” means”.

Any favorite admission success stories you would like to share with us?
My job is to make our student’s application shine, to discover and present that part of each student that will be a distinct asset to a school. When I first meet with a student I am seeking those characteristics. This process is called profile development. Some students come to us already very accomplished in a specific field, for example in our last cohort, a musical prodigy, a public speaking champion, a national merit scholar. Those special talents form the basis of their applications. Often, however, a student will first present as shy, modest, very immature, with scattered interests or totally unaccomplished. With careful detection work, very quickly a light within that student begins to shine, and when I discover that light, which exists in every person, that is a very exciting moment. Recently, we had a high schooler tell us she felt like a loser compared to her talented peers. We discovered her fascination and gift with fabrics, sewing, and fashion design. She is now at FIT and working as an intern for a major fashion house. A recent eleventh grade girl told us she had no special interests. Turns out she is a Lego master and is now studying engineering at University of California, Berkeley.

How do you find a balance with motherhood and your incredible career as a business owner?
My business thrives because I am a mom: I live in your shoes. I thoroughly enjoy working with our students and their families. My son has grown up with me as a working mother all his life and seen what hard-work means and how fulfilled I am with my career. It has allowed him to become a strong independent person. It has also shown him how important it is to strive to have a career that satisfies him both intellectually and emotionally.

Any tips for the rest of the Moms out there?
Remember, every situation can be managed.

What do you like to do to relax/have fun?
I love to cook, read books, spend time with my son and take my dogs for a walk around Babcock Preserve.

Anything else you’d like to share?
At Electra Reed & Associates we are most proud of the fact that ninety-five percent of our referrals come from previous happy clients in the form of personal referrals of siblings, friends, and associates. Our calm, confidential, customized approach works time and again. We are very grateful for the trust our clients put in us year after year!

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