You might be feeling overwhelmed by the possibilities and details swimming around the topic of college planning. Maybe you’re also feeling discouraged by the sheer number of students that high school guidance counselors are asked to assist and worried that you won’t get the attention you need. Perhaps you are applying to colleges in the United States from abroad, with little experience with the American higher education environment, and are feeling lost in the system. In all of these situations, you may benefit from working with an independent admissions consultant.
What should you look for in an admissions consultant?
The following three points will help you secure the best admission consultant:
1. Seek out a consultant who fits your style. You are going to work closely with this person, whether for a few weeks or a year or longer, and it is important that you are comfortable with the relationship. Is the consultant open to working with both the student and the parents? Do you both feel comfortable asking the consultant questions? The ease of electronic communication means that you may not need face-to-face meetings with your counselor, but you may strongly desire them – is that an option? Some applicants want to pick up the phone and ask a quick question every other day. Others stick to email. You might find the right independent admissions counselor for you in your neighborhood, in a different state, or on the other side of the globe.
2. 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. Good admissions consultants don’t just spend their time working 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.
3. An admissions consultant who “guarantees” acceptance to a specific college, or promises “scholarship money,” or agrees to write your essays isn’t practicing ethical college counseling. Run the other way.
Here’s how Accepted consultants view their role in the application process: As an applicant, you are representing yourself in the college admissions process. Accepted admissions consultants are there to help you identify options you might not have considered, present your application in the best possible light, and balance all of the moving parts of your senior year. Our consultants won’t write your essays, but they’ll act as your sounding board and help you identify your voice and hone your message. They’ll commiserate with you when you receive bad news, and celebrate the good news.
They’ll provide a seasoned, calm voice that will guide you through the admissions process while enhancing your 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 high school counselor may not have the time to address.
Now is the perfect time for high school juniors to begin college planning in earnest. No matter where you are in the process, we’re ready to help you.