Next Step Advising LLC: your guide for future planning


Next Step Advising, LLC

Next Step Advising, LLC is a local resource for college planning and advising

Kalliopi Alexis, The Delphi Staff

Thinking about the future, especially when considering colleges, can be very stressful for many students. Nicole Smith, founder of Next Step Advising LLC, is a college admissions advisor who knows the process inside-out.

Ms. Smith has been running her business for 4 years, and she has worked at Rutgers University as an academic advisor as well as Drexel University as an athletic counselor, as well as a member of the Admissions Advisory Board. In addition, Ms. Smith worked at a high school as a guidance counselor, but her interest in testing led her to work at the CollegeBoard for 2 years. Missing the regular interactions with students and the process of college searching, she decided to start Next Step Advising LLC.

As an independent college advisor, Ms. Smith is someone outside of a student’s school and personal circle who is a resource for students to share their hopes, goals and concerns about the college admissions process. “I start working with students sophomore or junior year. I really start asking them questions on what they might want to go into. I like to concentrate on the student’s interests. Eventually it comes together in pieces,” Smith said.

Ms. Smith has helped students get into a broad range of schools, from well known universities like Penn State, to prestigious and Ivy League universities like Harvard, to lesser known schools like Chapman and Arcadia. “It’s a process where you can never have blinders on. I have the philosophy with students to keep as many doors open as possible before you shut any,” Smith said.

While counselors at high schools undoubtedly provide great resources for students in regards to college and the future, they often have dozens of other students they must attend to. Advisors like Ms. Smith aim to build relationships with their students to get to know them. Using their wide range of experience, they can then get a better sense of the types of schools that fit certains students and their interests. Advisors can also give students information about the opportunities they can use to build up their resumes, as well as additional insights not often considered such as early vs regular action when applying to schools.

According to Ms. Smith, having an advisor is very helpful for students because it allows them to really designate time to consider their interests and the future, something many students forget to do while they concentrate on high school. “There are so many people who transfer and don’t finish school in four years. Part of it is that they aren’t doing the proper work on the front end of really thinking about [colleges]. I believe that my mission is to help students find the best fit school,” Smith said.

She also enjoys building that personal connection with her students. “I enjoy seeing it come together for students in the end. I love all the small moments along the way. I love it when a student has a killer essay and they’re so proud of it.”

The idea of college admission is overwhelming for many students, but having an advisor who knows the ropes can be a key element in alleviating the stress. “Just have confidence in your abilities,” Smith said.

If you would like to work with Ms. Smith, please check out the Next Step Advising, LLC website for more information: