Expert helps parents, students successfully navigate the path to college

By Claire Harlin

As university acceptance rates decrease and college dropout rates increase, it is becoming more and more crucial for students to get started on the right academic and motivational path early in high school, and Elloise Bennett has dedicated her life to being a guide on that path.

A former administrator at both Torrey Pines High School and Canyon Crest Academy, Bennett is the founder of Clarus Consulting Group, which helps parents and students develop clarity around the college application process, make the most out of the high school experience and search for the right university. The San Diego native works alongside Rik Napora, a credentialed high school counselor who has more than 15 years of counseling experience.

Bennett said one of the main focuses is making sure students understand their options.

“When I started looking at colleges, I thought the only ones that existed were Berkeley and Yale,” she said. “I had no idea what my options were and the costs involved.”

Bennett said there are more than 15,000 colleges in the nation, most of which are little known to students.

“The competitive schools every kid knows about have extremely small acceptance rates,” she said. “That’s why it makes it more important to know what the options are and plan appropriately.”

Bennett said there are so many academic options that a little research and knowledge of what’s out there can provide the exact fit for any student’s interests and skills. For example, an artistic student who may not want to study art as a career path might choose a small private school that offers a good art program in addition to a premed program. Or Oberlin College, for example, is known for its music program, but also has a notable programming major that is lesser known.

Clarus Consulting works with kids from their freshman year to high school graduation and beyond, but Bennett said the earlier a student starts planning high school classes and developing a college plan, the better.

An avid traveler and travel writer (you can read her stories at, Bennett interacts via Skype with clients across the country — but she prefers to focus on the Carmel Valley area because she’s familiar with it. Not only that, but considering the significant budget cuts that schools are going through, she said she feels as if she is filling a void.

“The best part of my work as an educator was working with students to see how we could make changes and plan for the future,” she said. “Parents want their kids to be competitively eligible, which means standing out … distinguishing yourself by being passionate about something and being outstanding in that passion.”

For more information or to reach Bennett, contact: 619-307-9202; or