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CPC and Self-Guided Naviance Tools: The Differences

Updated: Jan 16, 2022

Last week a parent asked the following excellent question - "Can you explain to me where these 2 programs (i.e. Naviance and CPC guidance) overlap, and what your program has that Naviance lacks?"

Since many high schools use the Naviance platform for college planning, here are a few of my thoughts for others to consider. The level of school involvement in the Naviance platform ranges greatly. Some school guidance offices dive deep into Naviance while others still require students to complete paper forms to request transcripts. It's all over the map, depending on personnel and resources.

Experience, review, and multiple data sources differentiate a student working in Naviance alone vs. working with CPC to develop and execute a quality application list balanced for admission and cost of attendance.

Naviance is primarily a single data source. CPC invests time and resources in over 40 sources of evidence and can apply that information through the lens of experience and understanding each student's goals. Below are some real examples as to how our advice helped students expand their options.

Programs of Study

  • Naviance – Student filters schools by major from a drop-down list of 1800 programs without connecting educational interests.

  • CPC - CPC students complete an educational interest inventory, and we discuss interests to connect to majors and then use multiple resources to filter schools

  • Example – Maria, a class of 2021 graduate, has high interests in biology and the fine arts. She was unaware she could connect the two interests into a scientific illustration program. Scientific illustration is not included in one of the 1800 programs in Naviance. Even if it were, Maria might not have connected her two interests to that program of study or learned how to research the curriculum further. Her high school guidance office suggested she study cosmetology. Maria is now attending a 4-year program at McDaniel on almost a full ride. We teach students how to analyze. Naviance does not, and most high school guidance offices do not have the time to dig deeper.

Admission Probability

  • Naviance - Naviance filters target admission probability only on GPA and test scores. Admissions are more nuanced, and using only those two filters might have a student discarding certain schools as possibilities.

  • CPC - In determining admission probability, we look at the academic profile and the student's talents, essays, school profile, the rigor of curriculum, recommendation letters, supplemental materials, if the school is need-blind, if the student is a legacy, AP scores, and more.

  • Example 1 – Chance wanted to attend UMD. However, the admission probability entering his GPA and Test Scores does not populate UMD as a choice. We know that UMD favors first-generation college students. We encourage Chance to apply test-optional, and he gains entrance through their summer bridge program.

  • Example 2 – Gina is a talented student who wants to attend a selective university. She is on the bubble for admission probability, so the Naviance filter does not show most selective schools in its results. However, the student has strong leadership and a compelling story. She works with CPC instead and is considering Boston University. We guide the student to an early decision application which boosts admission probability to 44%. Gina is accepted and is going to Boston University this fall.

  • Example 3 – Gracen has a 3.9 GPA and is looking for test-optional schools with a nursing program. She is considering schools that offer a big state flagship university experience. As of this post's date, Naviance does not filter or list Auburn as a test-optional school. Perhaps that is because a minimum GPA is required or perhaps it is because the platform is not updated more frequently. We monitor changes and know that the school's policy has changed. The student now has Auburn on her list and is ready to apply for the first round of early action on September 15th.

Institution Characteristics

  • Naviance – Students filter schools based on a high graduation rate. However, the filter doesn't consider excellent schools with lower graduation rates due to co-op programs or 5-year engineering.

  • CPC – We review the school's graduation rate in context. For example, some excellent schools would not appear on the search results because their 4-year graduation rate is lower due to strength in 5-year engineering or paid co-op programs. Naviance would eliminate schools such as Drexel or Stevens Institute of Technology as their graduation rates are lower, but for a reason. We know this information. We also include institution characteristics based on the leading data for outcomes, average salary after graduation, student engagement, academic investment per full-time student, campus environment, the school's financial strength. None of these quality indicators populate in Naviance.

Cost – Naviance filters can limit or incorrectly present options in search results

  • Naviance - Naviance's average net cost of attendance combines both need grants and merit scholarships. Schools that don't offer merit scholarships can incorrectly present as lower costs for students not eligible for need grants. Often families do not realize their application list is unbalanced for the cost of attendance until financial offers come out in the spring

  • CPC - At the beginning of our work, we help students and parents understand and discuss financial parameters. We help them determine the probable net cost before the school hits the application list by separating net cost after need OR merit scholarships, not combining the two. We make sure students apply to competing schools to negotiate the best financial packages in the spring

  • Example 1 – Karen is applying to schools with nursing programs and is eligible for need grants and is a strong student. We make sure Karen applies to schools that meet a large percentage of need and can be generous with merit scholarships to make up any gap. Karen is accepted to Duquesne University's direct-admit nursing program. One of the top in the country. She would not have initially considered this school because the sticker price looked too high.

  • Example 2 – Luke is a strong student with a compelling application and is a competitive applicant for most selective schools. However, these schools do not offer merit scholarships and the University of Maryland appears to be the most financially feasible option. Luke does a great job using various tools to research and adds Case Western University to his list. CPC suggests this selective school as it is one of a few in that admission category that offers merit scholarships. Luke applies and receives over $32,500 a year in merit scholarships, making the school a great value. He is in Cleveland this fall at Case.

  • Example 3 – Amanda wants to study marine science, and her parents have saved for her college education in an MD pre-pay plan. Amanda wants to explore regions away from home. We present the University of South Carolina and Coastal Carolina's marine science programs through the Academic Common Market to receive in-state tuition. Naviance does not filter schools or present Academic Common Market options to students.

Milestones – During the application cycle, there are a lot of milestones for the students to track

  • Naviance – Tracks recommendation letters and transcripts sent

  • CPC – We help the student track all of the items listed below in a customized application outline for each school on their list:

Guidance Counselor Forms

Academic Recommenders

Other Recommenders

Demonstrated Interest


CSS Profile/FAFSA Completion

Correct Program of Study

Correct Application Type

Portfolio Requirements

Supplemental Materials Required or Accepted

Personal Statement


Activity List

Supplemental Essays Organized By Topic, School, and Date

College is expensive and the process can be complicated. Fortunately, there is much content available at no cost to parents and students. The challenge is the time and the experience to navigate the ever-evolving landscape. That is where our guided process and experience pay dividends.

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