What will your
Climb to College be?
Climb to College offers insights, knowledge and expertise gained from direct work experience in college admissions.
Plus, a warm, friendly, personable approach to dramatically reduce your family's stress during the process!
What We Do
Students come to us at all different stages of the college admissions process. Typically, they come to us ready to start their college search and application process. Everyone needs a place to begin his or her journey to the top. At this stage, we help students understand what they are looking for in a college education and what their criteria might be (location, size, cost, academic programs, athletics, etc). By asking our students (and parents!) lots of questions, we discover important information about likes and dislikes, values, and goals. Using these criteria we begin to shape and build a college list and plan the admissions process.
Plan The Ascent
Once the initial criteria have been established, we will start on the "ascent" of your climb to college. We will help set a specific plan for your student that includes a list of recommended colleges that will be a good fit both academically and socially. In addition, we will help determine when to take standardized tests and which ones to take, research colleges offerings, brainstorm essay topics, craft a resume and/or activities list, practice for interviews, plan campus visits, and provide guidance, deadlines and organization for the actual college application.
Reach The Summit
We hope that once your student reaches their college admissions "summit", they will have great college options to choose from. We will help your student sort through offers, weigh pros and cons, and assist in deciding where they should spend their next four years.
Owner/Founder of Climb to College, LLC
Waterbury Center, VT
Cara Ray came to independent educational consulting from the world of college admissions. She served as Senior Assistant Director of Admissions at the University of Colorado Boulder where she read thousands of applications, essays, letters of recommendation, and resumes. In addition, she worked closely with honors students, scholarship recipients, and diverse populations of students. She chaired an application reading committee and created and established the, now annual, Admitted Student Day program on campus. Cara recruited students through extensive travel in New England, Southern California, Colorado’s Western Slope, and the Denver area and worked closely with high school students and counselors.
Cara also worked for a number of years with Bright Horizons College Coach as an essay reader helping review college essays for hundreds of corporate clients. She is currently serving as part of the selection committee member for the prestigious Boettcher Scholarship in Colorado.
As an independent counselor, Cara has worked with students in Vermont, Colorado and across the country helping navigate the admission process. She currently lives in Waterbury Center with her husband, son and daughter. She loves to travel, sing, read, try new restaurants, and spend time outdoors with her dog Stella.
We assist students in finding their best fit college. Here is a list that we are proud to add to each year:
Arizona State University
California State University - Monterey Bay
Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo
Carleton University (Canada)
Coastal Carolina University
College of Charleston
College of the Holy Cross
College of Saint. Benedict
Colorado Mesa University
Colorado School of Mines
Colorado State University
Evergreen State University
Florida International University
Florida Southern University
Florida State University
Franklin and Marshall College
Full Sail University
George Washington University
Hawaii Pacific University
High Point University
Illinois Institute of Technology
Indiana University, Bloomington
Johnson State College
Keene State College
Lake Forest College
Lewis and Clark College
Loyola Marymount University
Maryland Institute College of Art
Miami of Ohio University
Michigan State University
Montana State University
Mount Holyoke College
New England College
New York University
Northern Arizona University
Ohio Wesleyan University
Pennsylvania State University
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)
Rochester Institute of Technology
Saint Michaels' University
Santa Clara University
Savannah College of Art and Design
St. Lawrence University
St. Olaf College
University of Arizona
University of British Columbia (Canada)
University of California Berkeley
University of California Los Angeles
University of California, San Diego
University of California Santa Cruz
University of California, Santa Barbara
University of Colorado Boulder
University of Colorado, Colorado Springs
University of Connecticut
University of Denver
University of Hawaii
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
University of Kansas
University of Maine
University of Massachusetts Amherst
University of Massachusetts Lowell
University of Miami
University of Michigan
University of Minnesota
University of Montana
University of New England
University of New Hampshire
University of New Haven
University of Northern Colorado
University of Notre Dame
University of Oregon
University of Puget Sound
University of Redlands
University of Rhode Island
University of San Diego
University of Scranton
University of Southern California
University of St. Thomas
University of Tennessee, Knoxville
University of Texas, Austin
University of Utah
University of Vermont
University of Virginia
University of Washington
University of Wisconsin, Madison
Wake Forest University
Washington and Lee University
Washington University, St. Louis
William and Mary
Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI)
There are many college admissions resources out there for you to explore. Climb to College will introduce you to a wide variety of resources and tools. To get you started, here are a few to explore.
College Research Tools
Virtual Tours & College Tours
Colleges That Look Beyond Test Scores
Colorado Student Resources
Vermont Student Resources
Recommended for sophomores and juniors
For students in or entering senior year
Summarize the key points here.
Trail Mix Plans
Individual plans recommended for students who only need assistance with select items
When I started my college journey I dihout Cara.
Parent, Boulder, CO (Class of 2023) - WPI
"I would highly recommend Cara to anyone whose child is applying to college. With our first son, we relied on the high school counsel at our child’s private school. It was such a painful experience that we decided to hire Cara to supplement the high school counselor with our youngest son. Our experience using Cara was so positive. It took my husband and I out of the middle of everything. Cara pushed our son and kept him on track for all the deadlines. He got his applications in for early action and was able to hear back from college early in the 2nd semester. He got into 6 schools and had great options to choose from."
Parent, Niwot, CO (Class of 2023) -UCLA
"Cara was extraordinarily helpful during this college application process. She was very good at giving deadlines so that my student was ahead of schedule for such things as completing the common app, writing the common app essay, and completing supplemental essays. My child applied to 15 colleges and Cara helped her brainstorm for ideas and then proofread every single one of her supplemental essays. Cara reviewed every application with my student immediately before submitting. The structure and planning she puts in place during the Junior year helps set the kids up for success as Seniors. I appreciated that Cara was able to hold my student accountable so that I could harass a little less. Cara spends a lot of time getting to know her students and the frequent meetings are a source of constant support during this very stressful process. I give Cara my highest recommendation and have already referred several friends and family members."
Parent, Niwot, CO (Class of 2023) - Boston University
“You made our daughter confident about navigating the college process, narrowing down the college options that best suited her . Thanks for helping our daughter showcase her uniqueness and passion that really stood out on her application . Thank you for making this college process easy on us , thank you for always being positive, supportive and candid throughout the process."
Student, Niwot, CO (Class of 2023) - Boston University
"When I started my college journey I didn’t really understand how college worked and what was needed to even apply to different colleges. Both my parents are from out of the country so we were all a little clueless on how the college search and application process really worked. When I started working with Cara she explained to me different application portals, things colleges look for, and how to find the college right for me. She was extremely helpful and explained things to me and made my college search process as easy as possible. I am so glad I had the opportunity to work with Cara as I don’t think I would have found my perfect college and got into it without her. I will be attending Boston University in the fall and this great achievement of mine wouldn’t have happened without Cara."
Student, Boulder, CO (Class of 2022)- Kenyon College
"I’ve come to realize picking a college is often so stressful because it’s a constant balancing act. You have to determine your own hopes and dreams, define them, bullet out the highlights, type them into a subjective search engine, and see which institutions can theoretically slingshot you into the stars you want to dream amongst. But there’s a big problem with that. The simple fact that almost no high schoolers know who they are, and what they truly want to be. The simple question “what do you want to be when you grow up” becomes a whole lot more complicated when you are the one choosing how you will grow into that role, or rather which institution can “shape” you into it. Oh, and not to mention your family, and every single other person in your life wanting what they think is best for you, expressing that to you, and then you trying to use that information, as well as determine its validity without hurting the opinion giver's feelings. Without guidance, college decision is incredibly overwhelming, and it’s really hard to find an easy way to look through the massive amount of information at your disposal. That’s where Cara and Climb to College were a huge help. She provides a logical, step by step process that gets you ahead of other students going through the same decision making. You don’t have to worry nearly as much about sorting through marketing and finding valid sources. You have the ability to weigh your own opinions and the opinions of your loved ones with an expert who was part of the admissions process and is able to advise you about the inner workings of the college process. Cara works side by side with you to narrow down the entire country’s institutions to handful of good choices, and then gives you a simple way of narrowing down those choices into your future. You have a hand on the wheel the whole time, but you get guided down a path that’s much less rocky and convoluted than the traditional college decision process. Parts of the college decision are by no means being forced upon you. Cara explains why a certain aspect of the process is so instrumental, and then helps you produce the best possible work for where you apply. When I started my college essay I had absolutely no idea what I could write about. What do colleges want to see? When is a story just a story, and when is it something that illustrates an important part of you life and mindset? Cara helped me walk the tightrope of exemplifying good qualities without seeming preachy, braggy, or exaggerated, and was overall a huge help. I’m very happy I chose to enlist Cara and Climb to College in my college decision process, and if I had to do it over, I would definitely enlist her help again."
Parent of New York Students (Class of 2022)- University of Denver and University of Vermont
We are so thankful to Cara for her work with our twin daughters the past two years. Cara simplified the college process for all of us and provided the expertise we were seeking in a college advisor. Our daughters were calm and organized throughout the whole process thanks to Cara’s guidance. Both girls got into their top choice schools and are thrilled to attend in the fall!
Student, Stowe, VT (Class of 2022)- Boston College
"I loved working with Cara! I first met with her my junior year for help with my common app essay. The college writing process can be overwhelming to begin alone and Cara was an amazing guide and just a great person to talk to. She created very thoughtful and helpful brainstorming activities that helped me better understand myself and my strengths and helped me decide on a topic that would be both meaningful to me and impactful towards admission readers. It is so much easier to write when you brainstorm, talk about it, you’re confident and excited about your ideas. Cara helped me do exactly that. Throughout writing, she did a perfect job giving edits but also respecting my voice! Cara’s knowledge and positivity made the college process more organized and exciting for me. I can tell she cared a lot and I am so grateful for her support!"
Student, Boulder, CO (Class of 2021) - UC Santa Barbara
"I began working with Cara during my sophomore year and she was an angel throughout the whole process! My last couple years of high school were overwhelming and applying to college felt daunting at first, but Cara’s confidence, enthusiasm, experience, and kindness were incredibly inspiring. She is very organized and so easy to communicate with! I always felt as though she was doing everything in her power to help me achieve my dreams. She helped me research schools, look for scholarships, guide me through all the school applications, and she devoted so much of her time and attention to refining my essays. Thanks to her, I will be attending my top choice - University of California in Santa Barbara. I cannot imagine a better college counselor and I cannot recommend her enough!"
Parent of Boulder, CO Student (Class of 2021) - UC Santa Barbara
"Our family is very grateful for Cara; she guided and supported our daughter from the middle of sophomore year until the end of the whole application process. We had extra layers of concerns due to our daughter's health challenges. We needed an expert to help us navigate all those complexities and still aim high, to get her admitted to her dream school - University of California Santa Barbara. Cara’s wisdom helped us deal with a hybrid school system, her 504 program, a challenging number of AP classes, College Board and ACT accommodations, reviewing essays, etc. Things that are very overwhelming even for a kid without health challenges. Hiring Cara as our daughter's college counselor was the best investment we could have made. We are immensely grateful for her wisdom, kindness, and support."
Student, Breckenridge, Colorado (Class of 2019) - Gonzaga University
"When I think back to the start of my college application process, I can remember feeling lost and overwhelmed at this daunting task in front of me. I didn’t feel as though I had any direction in applying to schools, and I definitely was in the dark about how to complete college applications. Luckily, I had an expert to help guide me along this process. Working with Cara has been one of the best choices my family and I made, and I am so thankful that I had such a wonderful mentor to work with. Cara is on top of everything, and she works very hard to always be checking in on her students and making sure they are on the right track for their personal goals. Cara very consistently reminded me of deadlines and various tasks that needed to be completed and helped support me through every step of the way. This sort of reminder was paramount and crucial to the success of my college process. One example of this was writing my main college essay for the Common App. I did not know how to start of my essay, so Cara and I spent a meeting brainstorming and coming up with various ideas and ways to write to my chosen prompt. In addition to helping me come up with ideas, she always made herself available to help edit and revise everything before I sent it off to colleges. Availability was huge with Cara, I always felt comfortable reaching out with any help I needed and within less than a day she would always respond and help me with whatever I needed. Finally, the biggest testament to my work with Cara is that I am attending my dream school in the fall! This school was actually one that Cara encouraged me to look into, and I could not be more thrilled that I am heading to Gonzaga University! Cara is a truly outstanding individual, and working with her during the last couple years has been wonderful!"
Parent of Waterbury, Vermont Student (Class of 2019) - Essay Package
"I think your assistance helped S. immensely with his common app essay in focus, content, writing quality and completion speed. I love his essay! I think it’s a real asset to his apps. I still can’t believe how fast he was able to complete that with your guidance."
Parent of Boulder, Colorado Student (Class of 2018) – New York University, Tisch School of the Arts
“At the beginning of our daughter’s junior year we started working with Cara Ray. Cara was instrumental in helping our daughter focus on her strengths and guided her towards a path of study that fit her true passion. Because of the specialized nature of her major, our daughter was required to submit portfolios, additional essays and a creative resume in addition to all of the standard application requirements. Cara worked with our daughter, reviewing and critiquing her work and guiding her through this process. She kept our daughter focused every step of the way. Cara was always available to answer our questions with quick responses. The time she spent with our family submitting the applications and working with us through this complex process was invaluable. We are so excited for our daughter and her future at NYU and believe Cara’s involvement was so valuable in her getting into her first college choice.
Parents of Niwot, Colorado Students (Class of 2018) - New York University and University of San Diego
"Cara Ray was a tremendous asset for our family during the college search and admissions process. As the parents of twins with distinctly different interests, it was invaluable for them to have Cara’s advice, guidance, and support. She spent a great deal of time learning about our kids as individuals; their subject interests in school, of course, but also their extracurricular pursuits, their social activities and interests, and their vision for their post-college professional lives. From all of this, she provided them both with thoughtful guidance and suggestions for schools that might interest them. She assisted with tour scheduling. She provided input on appropriate high school classes to enroll in. And, of course, she provided exceptional help navigating a complex application process among their colleges of interest. This included reading and thoughtfully editing drafts of multiple application essays. Ultimately, both of our kids were accepted into their first choice colleges. Cara Ray’s involvement with the process was a major factor in this success. Our investment in Cara Ray’s services was more than worthwhile, and we cannot recommend her highly enough."
Parents of Breckenridge, Colorado student (Class of 2017) - Chapman University
"We just finished working with Cara Ray at Climb to College, and we couldn’t be more excited. Our daughter, Cameron, was accepted to Chapman University and received their Presidential Scholarship. Without guidance from Cara, we would have never achieved such seamless results. Cara’s expertise was invaluable! Every aspect of the college selection process was covered by her services - building a resume, soliciting teacher recommendations, managing testing procedures, narrowing the field of choices, writing the personal essay, making applications, applying for scholarships, and making a final school selection.As dual career parents, we truly appreciate the time, energy, and expertise that was required to facilitate our daughter’s dreams. So, we have hired Cara to mentor our son through the process next. Thank you, Cara, for all you do!"
Student, Arvada, Colorado (Class of 2016) - Washington and Lee University
"Cara was excellent throughout my entire experience- from the beginning of my high school career, through the lengthy college admissions process, and even past when I had decided on a school. Without her, I would not have discovered all the wonderful schools out there that peaked my interest, and ultimately I would not have been able to decide on my dream school. Cara worked with me in a way that I never once felt overwhelmed or under prepared, which was very calming when most of my peers were feeling behind or blindsided in the process. When submitting my applications, I always felt like the schools were receiving information that directly reflected me, yet still in a way that answered what the schools wanted to hear, all thanks to Cara being with me through the entire essay process, from the rough draft to the final version by editing, suggesting, and all around smoothing out the edges. When Cara and I would talk, I often found myself walking away with tips and other tidbits of extremely helpful information that I would have never discovered on my own; her experience and credentials are so apparent and extraordinary, and I wholeheartedly believe that Cara was the best person for me to work with. I have complete faith that I am going to my dream school and have absolutely no regrets about my choices made during my entire college search, all thanks to Cara and her motivating and positive personality. I have already recommend Cara to friends, and I will continue doing so. Thank you so much, Cara, my family and I are infinitely appreciative of your continuous guidance and support. I am beyond thrilled with my decision to attend Washington and Lee, and am so thankful for the role you played in helping me get here."
Parent of Stowe, VT Student (Class of 2016) – Johnson State College
"Working with Cara has been an absolute delight, and she helped alleviate so much of the stress that comes from the college search. Cara was reassuring every step of the way, and she connected with our daughter and helped her take ownership of this process. We cannot say enough wonderful things about Cara’s guidance, and we highly recommend her to parents and students embarking on this journey!"
Parents of Niwot, Colorado Student (Class of 2013) - University of Oregon
"We are very pleased with M.'s decision to attend Oregon! It was a difficult decision for her and we're proud of the maturity she used in making her final choice.Your support has been great for M! We're both amazed at how well informed she has become on the college admission/selection process. It's amazing to see how much confidence she now has compared to when we started this process with you."
Student, Broomfield, Colorado (Class of 2013) - College of Saint Benedict/St John's University
"I worked with Cara during my junior and senior year. Working with her was an amazing experience and an immense help. Cara gave me support throughout the entire process, from preparing me for interviews, perfecting my applications, and helping me make my final decision. Since Cara has previously worked in a college admissions office, she was able to offer insight about what the admissions offices were looking for so I could improve my applications; I think this gave me an advantage over other applicants. I appreciated that Cara was always available to answer my questions, proofread my work or meet with me. She is so positive and easy to talk to and I never felt like I was bothering her, and I asked a lot of questions! I can't say enough about how much she helped me during this process, especially when I was finally ready to choose a school. Cara encouraged me without making the choice for me. It was great to talk to someone other than my parents, since they had their own opinions. I don't think I would have chosen the school I did if it weren't for Cara because I was afraid to commit, but she helped me to overcome this. I am so confident I made the right choice! I'll be attending the College of Saint Benedict/Saint John's University in Minnesota. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about my experience!"
Student, New Jersey (Transfer Student) - University of Colorado Boulder
“I really do not think I would have gotten into University of Colorado Boulder…without the help of Cara Ray. She has an abundance of knowledge about what colleges want to see and what the proper steps to take are in order to be successful. Cara is also willing to go out of her way to make sure that you get all of the help you need. I was nervous about whether or not I would get into CU, but the first time I met with Cara I knew I was in good hands. I have worked with education consultants before and she is by far the best. She knows how to get things done in a timely manner and to the best of your ability. I strongly recommend Cara as an education consultant.”
Parent of Denver, Colorado student (Class of 2013) - University of Puget Sound
"We met Cara at a presentation she was giving to high school parents about ways to prepare for the college search/application process. Even though our student had already been actively researching colleges for a while, it was immediately clear to us that consulting with Cara would be very helpful and worth every penny. Looking back now, we feel that even more strongly. From our first telephone conversation, Cara established just the right balance between addressing our questions and concerns as parents and focusing on our child as the ultimate client of the process. Cara created a working partnership, encouraging our daughter to really explore and develop her interests, goals, and boundaries around what she was looking for in a college and what she wanted out of her college experience. There are so many choices, variables and tangents in the college search and application process. All of this happens at a time when high school students are extremely busy and often scattered. Cara did an amazing job of guiding our daughter to find her focus and personal voice in this endeavor. Cara doesn't treat the candidates like their teacher, she works with each one on all aspects, putting time and effort into the areas that are most challenging to the student. For some, that is developing their essays, for others it is pursuing scholarship opportunities, whatever it is, Cara does it with positive support in a coaching/mentoring approach. Looking back on our college search and application experience working with Cara, we know several things. First, no great match up universities went undiscovered. Second, our daughter is receiving every scholarship dollar available to her. Third, our daughter is at the best fit for her academically and personally. Fourth, completing this journey with Cara prepared our daughter to be away as a college freshman this autumn in ways we had no idea would happen but are so grateful for every day. Cara made sure that our daughter knew that this was her own journey to complete, that by putting herself honestly and with effort into completing it, she would be so much happier with the outcome. We have already recommended Cara to our daughter's best friend and her family. Originally we thought we would gain so much knowledge from this partnership for our daughter that we would be able to make it doubly valuable because we have a son who just started high school who would benefit from the knowledge. Now, however, we are already valuing all of the benefits of the one-on-one partnership so highly that we will be signing up again when it is his turn."
Student, Pueblo, Colorado (Class of 2013) - Colorado State University
"I just got to CSU and I absolutely love it here!...I couldn't have done it if it was not for you. You really helped me find the right college. I really do believe that I would not have even looked at CSU if it was not for you. You made finding the right college 10X easier for not only me but my family as well. I plan to keep in touch and let you know how things are going. I hope all is well. You're great at what you do and I am so thankful to have had you help me create a path for my future."
Parents of Denver, Colorado student (Class of 2012) - Davidson College
“Cara was simply outstanding to work with and we could not be happier with the ultimate outcome. Our son got into a number of strong liberal arts colleges and ended up choosing Davidson College in NC. Cara formed a great bond with our son and made the whole college application much more manageable and less daunting for all of us. She worked collaboratively with him throughout the process, was supportive and always available to counsel him (and us). She really listened closely to his college selection criteria and developed a good list of potential schools for him to look at. We also so appreciated her leadership in developing and organizing the college road trips – we don’t know how we could have managed this without her support. When it got down to the application process and the essays her input was invaluable and she helped shape his thoughts into strong essays. The real challenge came when he had to make his choices and again, she listened closely to his thoughts, concerns and wishes and helped him make a decision which he feels very good about. Thanks Cara, we are so very appreciative of all your help and look forward to working with you in a couple of years with our daughter.”