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Based in the Netherlands, LAUNCH is an Independent Education Consultant-led advising service focused on providing expat and international families school and university guidance. Founded by Chicago native, Lauren Joyce Hensel, LAUNCH aims to help students reach their potential through educational opportunity and adherence to five core values. Lauren and Samantha are Associate Members of the Independent Education Consultants Association and pursuing Professional Membership. Lauren and Samantha are also a member of the International Association of College Admissions Counselors.


LAUNCH is a boutique, education guidance organization working to inspire and mentor globally-minded students, so they can productively and positively make the world a more equitable, educated, and inclusive society.  ​


LAUNCH uses five core values to inspire, mentor, and launch the ambitions of expat and international families.


We expect our families to uphold these values as well.

Curiosity, Integrity, Trust, Opportunity, Grit


LAUNCH aims to become a global company, with bases in Europe and North America, and create a more inclusive world through access to domestic and international educational opportunities for third-culture students and their families.



Founder, Head Guidance Coach


Co-founder, Community and Guidance Coach


Guidance Coach

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US, UK, Canada, Dutch Universities

First Generation University Students

Student-Athletes (including eSports)

Expat and Third Culture Families


Bachelor of Science, Technical Communication

Masters of Public Administration, Educational Policy

Certificate, Independent Education Consulting

PhD Candidate, Education and Social Justice

Illinois Institute of Technology '06 and '17
University of California, Irvine '21
Lancaster University '25

While in high school, I received 15 minutes of university counseling despite being a first generation university student. My family and I found the process overwhelming, stressful and challenging, thus leading me to apply only to universities where I knew I would receive acceptance. After graduating with a bachelor of science degree, I immediately started working in university and prep school admissions and athletics. I fell in love with helping students from diverse backgrounds reach their potential, discover their gifts, and launch their futures. 


I returned to university in 2015 to obtain a masters and hone my ability to research and connect with people. Likewise, I put these improved skills to use to conduct an in-depth school search for my own children when my husband and I relocated with our children to The Netherlands.  


With my experience in preparatory school and university admissions and athletics and expat experience, I possess valuable knowledge which can help expat, international, and third culture families and communities. I believe in serving my clients with compassion, empathy, and realism to help them achieve educational success. 


Currently, I am pursuing a PhD in Education and Social Justice from Lancaster University in England. I have a certificate in Independent Education Consulting from University of California-Irvine and an MPA from Illinois Institute of Technology. In my spare time, I enjoy weight lifting, traveling around Europe, sampling coffee, riding my bakfiets, and enjoying time with my husband and two children.


My whole life, I’ve been a professional dabbler and played nearly every sport available (soccer, basketball, swimming, track and field, and field hockey), but I was never excited about any of them. During my junior year of high school when I discovered my high school rowing team, the first of its kind in my home state of Delaware, I instantly fell in love with the sport and quickly climbed the ranks of the team. My coach suggested that I list my erg scores online so that college coaches could find me. It wasn’t long before a few showed interest, including Lehigh University. I went on an official visit, fell in love with the school, and decided to apply Early Decision.

As I finished my application, more rowing opportunities became available. I applied to and was accepted by, a number of other colleges and universities, but I still felt drawn to Lehigh though I did wonder if I rushed my application process. My concerns were negated as I was accepted to Lehigh in January of my senior year and enrolled that fall. 

Although inspired by my time at Lehigh where I developed some of my closest friendships, at times I felt overwhelmed and challenged, and to this day, I wonder if there was a university better suited to my strengths and ambitions. At 17-years-old, I conquered my university search alone and only superficially understood what I needed from my school. Had I received more personalized, holistic guidance, I likely would have made a different decision as a student-athlete.

In 2010, I emigrated to the Netherlands to build my life with my partner. These days, you’ll find me reading my book club’s latest selection, cheering on the sidelines of a soccer field, staying active through fun runs, bike rides, and fitness classes, and spending quality time with my partner and two children.

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Dutch Schools

East Coast Schools (USA)

Student-Athletes (rowing expertise)

Expat and Third Culture Families

US Personal Statements

Supplemental Essays

Guilford College '15 
Salisbury University '18

During my college search, I visited countless campuses and wound up applying to twelve schools from across the country and even in Paris. I had known for years that I wanted to declare Psychology as my major but had no vision for where I might do that. In the final weeks before decisions were due, I ended up flying across the country to visit a campus on the West Coast and spent hours pouring over spreadsheets of pros and cons (much like the rankings lists Launch uses, actually) to make a decision. 


I ultimately chose Guilford because of its welcoming atmosphere. The campus was classic and green and the community was small enough that my classes would be discussion-based and professors would become mentors over time. Coming from a New England private school, I found college-level academics very manageable. So manageable, that I took more than 20 credits per semester, became an Honors student, added summer courses, and completed my entire Bachelor's degree in three years. 


Being a college counselor has always been my dream job. A way to combine my background in sociology and my passion for working with youth. Naturally, I jumped at the chance to join the Launch Team! 


In my free time, I love to travel around Europe, try new Amsterdam restaurants with my partner, and do yoga. 

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Student Onboarding

University List Building

Supplemental Essays

Application Strategy


As a first-gen Filipina-American, going to college was a given. But no one gave the secret sauce for how to go about it. My college counselor ended up retiring my junior year, so I had a new counselor my final year. Navigating college with a new counselor where I hadn’t made a connection was daunting, so I did the college search by myself. 


What drove my decision for attending university was the cost of attendance and if I had friends or family attend the school. I ended up following my two older sisters and attended the University of Illinois at Chicago where I crafted my university experience, leading me to explore diplomacy with internships at the U.S. Department of State and go on to earn a Masters in International Studies where I lived in Shanghai. 


In 2012, I began my career in international education, where I have experience in university admissions in three types of higher education institutions (large public, small liberal arts, and tech university).  I have worked with ethical advisors who can help students and families strategically navigate higher education institutions of best fit. 


I am an active member of International ACAC, Study Illinois, and I am pursuing an MBA through the Illinois Institute of Technology. I always carve out time to Peloton or bike outdoors along Lake Michigan or around the Chicagoland area.




International Student Financing

International Student Visa Process

School-University Counselor Relations

Transfer Applications + Finances

Webinars, Trainings, and Workshops

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