November Spotlight—Barbara Miller, College Planning PhD




20191024_001341Method Test Prep Spotlight seeks to highlight MTP clients, friends, and acquaintances who are doing amazing things in education. For each installment of the Spotlight, we will select a dedicated individual or organization to profile, and will then interview the awardee to share their story. Through the Spotlight, we hope to develop a bank of successful experiences and practices for other schools and educators to learn from.

For our November Spotlight, we step back into the private counseling/advising side of education to highlight Barbara Miller, Operations Manager and Student Advisor at College Planning PhD. Located in South Florida, College Planning PhD works with families on all aspects of college search and educational financial planning. Ms. Miller encourages her students to consider careers that fit their interests and attributes; she believes that, with passion, college applicants can acquire the necessary skills to succeed in their desired fields. To explore career options with her students, Miller uses Career Cruising/Xello, a Method Test Prep partner organization that offers a comprehensive suite of college and career planning tools. In 2013, she discovered that Method Test Prep could be purchased as an add-on to College Planning PhD’s Xello accounts with a single sign-on (SSO), seamlessly providing students with access to Method Test Prep’s ACT and SAT prep courses without requiring an additional username or password. 

As an independent educational consultant (IEC), Ms. Miller desired a program that would provide a strong academic complement to her firm's college choice and funding services. Fully aware of the advantages that strong ACT and SAT scores confer during the college admissions process, she sought a tool that would help her students work smarter, not harder. Miller appreciated the way Method Test Prep's self-paced ACT and SAT prep program both encouraged students to learn across manageable tasks and provided students an organized approach to preparing for the exams. That the program could be integrated with her organization’s Career Cruising/Xello subscription made it the obvious choice.

As someone who walks the walk, Ms. Miller wanted to be able to provide students with a recommendation based on firsthand experience. She went so far as to actually sit for an official SAT, take the Method Test Prep course, and sit for another SAT. She saw her scores increase by over 100 points in each section between exams! This gave Miller great confidence in recommending the program to her students, and has helped earn her their buy-in to giving the program an earnest shot. We at Method Test Prep can certainly relate—in efforts to create extremely accurate content and remind themselves of the various challenges that accompany the tests, many of our tutors and content creators regularly sit for official ACTs and SATs. MTP President Tom Ehlers was even chronicled in a local newspaper when he took the exam at age 35—see the aptly named An Old Guy Takes the SAT for the story. (Tom also followed up in his own words with two excellent blog posts that are worth a few minutes of your time: see part 1 and part 2.)

Ms. Miller says that the response to MTP has been overwhelmingly positive; she has even had older students come back to speak to younger students about their own experiences and encourage them to use the program diligently. We were impressed with College Planning PhD’s use of peer-to-peer advising to help convey the importance of preparing for the ACT and SAT. This is an approach that could surely benefit other IECs looking to motivate their students to embrace test prep. 

Miller also had her students take advantage of the program’s mobile-responsive design, encouraging them to access the ACT and SAT checklists from their phones, tablets, and laptops while on the bus or out and about with time to spare. And access the program they did—Miller cites a 25% increase in student usage following MTP’s 2016 mobile-responsive design launch.

We were pleased with Ms. Miller’s organization in formulating an effective test prep approach, and excited about the enthusiasm with which she was able to inject our self-paced program into the work she does with her families and students. The parents wholeheartedly appreciate having access to an affordable test prep tool that can help their children achieve the scores they need to gain admission to their dream schools, especially when it means they won’t have to seek out expensive one-on-one tutoring. For their part, students love the program’s intuitive interface and the convenience of being able to work at their own pace. We are thrilled that Barbara finds our program a great value to her business, as we think the work she is doing to help her students find the right college fit is an incredible benefit to the families in her community.

More About Barbara:

Q: What do you enjoy most about your job? 
A: Every year the last workshop is the Bon Voyage luncheon: students share their excitement and anticipation to go to the schools of their dreams.

Q: Do you have a job related memory or event that stands out as particularly rewarding?
I tell my students that anything I tell them to do, I've done. About 5 years ago I took the SAT cold, in an official setting at a high school. I got a 620 on reading and only a 400 on math. I then went through the entire Method Test Prep checklist and sat for an official exam again. I increased my math score by 130 points and 100 in reading and writing. I was really excited with that. One of my students thought it was funny that I got a 400 in math and said to me, "you know you get 200 points for writing your name right?"

Q: Do you have any hobbies?
A: Huge sports fan, used to play rugby in a former life. Lots of baking, love being outdoors.

Q: How do you like to spend your summers or vacation time?
When not with family over Xmas, at a pool or a beach.


Thanks again to Barbara Miller of College Planning PhD for being a shining example of great things happening in education! 

Take a tour of our school's free trial today!If you would like to nominate an individual or organization working with MTP to be considered for a Spotlight Award, please send an email to with the subject line Spotlight. Please also share this story with people in education as well as with parents and other interested parties! 

Leave a Comment