Best High Schools 2016

Dream Catcher: Meet the Man Who Helps Students—and Their Parents—Achieve Success

Local expert Ibrahim Firat on choosing the right school, tutoring over Skype, and why your teenager should be on LinkedIn.

By Roxanna Asgarian September 19, 2016 Published in the October 2016 issue of Houstonia Magazine

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Image: Shutterstock

Tutoring over Skype? Why didn’t we think of that? It’s a brave, new, cutthroat world, and for help navigating it, many Houston parents—those who can afford it, we should note—turn to educational-consulting firms like Firat Educational Solutions, which help kids excel in challenging classes, prep for standardized tests, and select the right high school and college. Below, a few questions for founder Ibrahim Firat:

You just released the third edition of The Firat Guide, a handbook on Houston-area private-high-school admissions. How does it help students and their parents?

My goal is to help high-school students find a right-fit college—not everyone wants a Harvard or a UT. I work with students from all over the Houston area, mainly from private schools, and because of that, I know which high schools can produce which kinds of students. Schools highlight their success stories, but I know the reality of what they actually can do. And families who are about to drop about $100,000 on private high school need to know what to expect.

How do you advise students on which school is the best fit?

We always say, start with the end in mind. If a seventh- or eighth-grade child and their parents come in, I always start by asking the parents where they went to college. Oftentimes, a Stanford or UT family comes in and says, “I would like my child to shoot for that.”

If you want your child to attend a public college like UT, do you want them to go to a private high school? They might be better aligned to get automatic admission at UT from a public high school. If they say, “I’d like my son to grow spiritually,” then we look at spiritual schools. Sometimes it’s a good lacrosse team or a classical music program.

You advocate for high-school students to sign up for LinkedIn. Why is that?

The age to sign up for LinkedIn is now 13. We realized, why don’t we start when you’re 13, and position yourself so that by the time you’re 18, you have a very strong resume? They add their community service, high-school projects, extracurriculars. At the end, when they’re applying to college, they have a resume that highlights who they are and what they want to do.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

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