If you’re a high school junior or senior (or even a freshman or sophomore in some cases), you might be feeling overwhelmed by the possibilities and details of applying to college, or discouraged by the sheer number of students that high school guidance counselors are asked to assist. Perhaps you are applying to colleges in the United States from abroad, with little experience of American higher education, and just have no idea what to expect throughout this entire process. In all of these situations, you may benefit from working with an independent admissions consultant.
What should you look for in an admissions consultant?
Most importantly, you should seek out a consultant who fits your style. You are going to work closely with this person, whether it’s for a few weeks or a year or longer, and it is important that you are comfortable with the relationship.
Your Consulting Likes & Gripes
Make sure you ask yourself these questions:
• Is the consultant open to working with both the student and the parents?
• Do you both feel comfortable asking the consultant questions?
• How do you feel about electronic communication versus face-to-face meetings with your counselor?
• How do you and your consultant feel about phone versus Skype versus email?
• Does location matter to you? Do you care if your admissions counselor lives in your neighborhood, in a different state, or on the other side of the globe?
Your Consultant’s Qualifications
Your consultant should have broad background knowledge and a commitment to continuing education about the college admissions process. Yes, your next-door neighbor was accepted to a top college last year, and her mother helped her with her applications. She might have interesting insights to share, but a professional consultant has worked with many families with different admissions profiles, offering them a huge amount of knowledge and experience that they can then apply to your unique situation.
For every hour a consultant spends working with a student, they spend additional hours reading, researching schools and programs, networking with colleagues, and visiting colleges. Several professional organizations, including the Higher Education Consultants Association (HECA), the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA), and the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) require their members to maintain a commitment to continuing education and professional development.
What You Should Look Out For
An admissions consultant who “guarantees” acceptance to a specific college, or promises to “find scholarship money,” or agrees to write your essays isn’t practicing ethical college counseling. Run the other way.
What to Expect
As an applicant, you are representing yourself in the college admissions process. An admissions consultant will help you by:
• Identifying options you might not have considered.
• Presenting your application in the best possible light.
• Balancing all of the moving parts of your senior year.
• Serving as a sounding board and helping you identify your voice and hone your message.
• Commiserating with you when you receive bad news and celebrating the good news
• Providing a seasoned, calm, voice that will guide you through the admissions process while enhancing your chances of acceptance
• Answering the questions that your high school counselor may not have the time to address
If you are interested in working one-on-one with an admissions consultant, please let us know. Now is the perfect time for high school juniors to begin college planning in earnest. But no matter where you are in the process, we’re ready to help you.