The answer is a resounding “maybe.” As an independent college consultant, one would expect my answer to be “yes,” but the fact is that while many students and their families do need my guidance and expertise, others simply do not. And yet, in The Newsletter of the Independent Educational Consultants Association, Mark Sklarow points out that,”22% of all freshmen at private, four-year colleges used IECs (Independent Educational Consultants).” Click here for full article.
Not only is the process much different than it was twenty years ago, but it can be easier for today’s parents to let a third party help with the occasional mercurial teen.
For the first seventeen years of their child’s life, parents face daunting challenges: you hold your tongue and let natural consequences prevail when your son heads outdoors in 10-degree weather wearing a t-shirt, or you convince your daughter that piercing her upper lip might become outdated. One of the last challenges faced by parents is the college application process. Why might your child (or you for that matter) need help from a college consultant now?
Bottom line, it is simply easier and less stressful to have a dedicated college consultant working full time to make sure your child has the best information about the application process and the best chance of getting into his/her first-choice school.
College Consultants CAN Help
Here are a few specific ways a college consultant can help:
- Manage deadlines
- Discuss the inner workings of an admissions office
- Develop strategies at each stage of the admissions process
- Review essays
- Help to differentiate the student from others
- Provide financial counseling, including conducting a scholarship search
- Recommend and develop a customized list of schools (See more tips on building a college list.)
- Arrange mock interviews
- Provide support and guidance from beginning to end
Consider Your Needs
Even though the college consultant can help with a wide variety of issues, it is also important that you choose one that accommodates the needs of your student and family. Here are a few things to consider:
- Admissions experience: While some college consultants have worked in the field for years, there is no substitute for the experience of former admissions officers who have read literally hundreds, sometimes thousands of applications during an admissions cycle. Having to defend admittance, denial, deferred and waitlist decisions before the Director of Admissions takes advantage of a high level of experience that is hard to match. College consultants who have previously worked in admissions offices are best suited for educational counseling because they are most familiar with the ins and outs of the process and what sets applicants apart.
- School visits: No college consultant will know every school, but they should visit a variety of schools to develop familiarity with the programs. Ask what schools your prospective college consultant visited this year.
- References: Try to find a college consultant that is a personal recommendation from a trusted source such as a family member or a friend.
- Acceptances: A successful college consultant should have a long list of clients who have been accepted to a variety of competitive schools. You could also consider asking for the consultant’s first-choice college admit rate.
- Fit: Make sure your child feels comfortable working with the prospective college consultant.
- Client workload: Find out how many clients the college consultant works with each year.
- Knowledge: Find out how much the college consultant knows regarding the admissions process. Reading about the process is not the same as knowing and understanding the workings of the back office.
There is no reason the college application process has to be unbearable for students and their parents. Choosing the right college consultant is a great way to ease the stress. Like going to college, the application process can be an exciting experience.
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