The college planning process can be stressful for both parents and children. As a parent, you’re balancing your children’s goals and your family’s needs – while still handling all your other commitments.
If it’s your first time navigating the college application system, it’s also easy to feel overwhelmed. Maybe you’re also feeling discouraged by the sheer number of students that high school guidance counselors are asked to assist and are worried that your child won’t get the attention they deserve. If your child is applying to colleges in the United States from abroad, and you have little experience with the American higher education environment, the system may make you feel lost or intimidated. Finally you may feel that with all the tension of the teen years, not to mention the application process, you and your child may be better off if an expert third party provides adult and experienced guidance. In all of these situations, your child would benefit from working with an independent admissions consultant.
What should you look for in an admissions consultant for your child?
1. Find a consultant who fits both your needs and your child’s style.
You and your child are going to work closely with this person, whether for a few weeks or a year or longer, so it is important that you are both comfortable with the relationship.
Here are some important questions to ask when looking for “the one”:
• Is the consultant open to working with both applicants and parents, while understanding that the applicant is the primary contact and client?
• Do you both feel comfortable asking the consultant questions?
• If you and/or your child prefer face-to-face meetings, is that an option? If you prefer email/Skype only – is that an option? Are phone calls allowed?
You might find the right independent admissions counselor for your family in your neighborhood, in a different state, or on the other side of the globe. For many people, it doesn’t matter where the consultant lives, just so long as s/he “clicks” with you and with your child.
2. The consultant you choose should have broad background knowledge and a commitment to continuing education about the college admissions process.
Yes, your next-door neighbor single-handedly walked her son through the admissions process – and he got into Yale. She might have interesting insights to share, but a professional consultant has worked with many families with different admissions profiles.
Good admissions consultants don’t only work with students, but spend additional time 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. Look for a consultant who demonstrates such a commitment.
3. Beware of guarantees.
An admissions consultant who “guarantees” acceptance to a specific college, or promises “scholarship money,” or agrees to write your child’s essays isn’t practicing ethical college counseling. Run the other way. Fast.
Here’s how Accepted consultants view their role in the application process: As an applicant, your child must present himself/herself in the best possible light throughout the college admissions process. We are there to help you and your child identify options you might not have considered, help your child represent herself at her very best, and balance all of the moving parts of your child’s senior year. Our consultants won’t write your child’s application essays, but they’ll act as a sounding board and help your son or daughter identify his/her voice and hone an impressive, authentic message.
They’ll provide a seasoned, calm voice that will guide you and your child through the admissions process while enhancing your child’s chances of acceptance. And since they don’t work with throngs of students at once, they’ll be able to answer the questions that your child’s high school counselor may not have the time to address.
By working with an Accepted consultant, your child will apply confidently and navigate the application process with less stress.
No matter where your family is in the admissions process, we’re ready to help you.
• Preparing for College in High School: A To-Do list for 11th Graders, a free guide
• What to Do in Your Senior Year to Enhance Your Chances of a College Acceptance
• Tips For Answering Common Application Essay Prompts