Getting into college these days can feel like a big task. How do you stand out? How can you increase your chances of getting a scholarship?
One way to get help is to work with a college admissions counselor or consultant. However, a college admissions counselor can be costly. If you decide to use a college admissions consultant, it’s important to understand what you need in terms of help and what your goals are.
Here’s what you need to know about college admissions counselors.
What Is A College Admissions Counselor?
A college admissions counselor is someone who can help students and their parents navigate the college admissions process. A good consultant understands what helps students stand out, as well as helps them understand what scholarships and programs might be available.
College admissions counselors take the time to get to know you and understand your strengths. They can then help you highlight your best qualities and provide insight into what admissions officers are looking for.
With the right approach and a college admissions counselor who understands the ins and outs, you can better assess what you need and follow the steps required to improve your chances of getting accepted to your preferred school.
Some of the services you’re likely to find with college admissions counselors include:
- Guidance in helping you develop a plan of study for high school.
- Suggestions for extracurricular activities that will help you stand out.
- Evaluating different colleges to help you find a good fit — with a good chance of being accepted.
- Step-by-step help through the application process, including helping review your materials.
- Understanding, applying for and securing financial aid from a variety of sources, including the government, school and other organizations.
How To Choose A College Admissions Counselor
If you decide that a college admissions counselor or consultant is the right choice for you, it’s important to understand what you’re looking for and compare your available options.
Some of the items to consider as you compare college admissions consulting services or counselors include the following:
Start With Your Goals
Think about your goals with college admissions. In most cases, it goes beyond simply turning in an application. Consider where you’re at in the process and how much guidance you need.
In some cases, you might feel like you need someone to review your application and help you write your essay. Perhaps you want to ensure that you qualify for scholarships in addition to admission. Be clear about what you hope to accomplish.
Once you understand your goals, you’ll be in a better position to evaluate different options and potential admissions counselors. This includes understanding when to get started. While a consultant can help you later in your career, it might make more sense to begin getting help from a college admissions counselor during your freshman or sophomore year of high school.
Review Services From Different College Admissions Consultants And Counselors
Next, start comparing different consultants and counselors. You’ll find a variety of services running the gamut, from general workshops to personalized services. Find out if there are packages or memberships you can use to access services. Some counselors offer packages with specific price points. Review the different packages to see what’s included.
In some cases, you might find counselors who can work with you early on to help you determine which extracurricular activities are likely to help you stand out with your dream school. They can also help guide you in a way that makes you more likely to receive a scholarship.
Look at the different services offered at various stages of the college application and admissions process. You might just need access to workshops and boot camps in the beginning but then want personalized help with putting together an essay or application later.
Compare the services offered with your goals. Do the services match up? If you’re paying for college admissions counseling, you want to make sure that you’re getting something that works well with your objectives.
Talk To Different College Admissions Counselors
Before you actually start paying for a service or a counselor, have a conversation. Most consultants are willing to have an initial conversation to review your situation and goals. They’ll also answer your questions and provide different packages and prices depending on your needs.
Find out how available they are to answer questions and how accessible they are. You might not be able to find someone you can meet with in your physical location, but some counselors offer Zoom meetings and other ways to connect. This can be a good way to gauge whether you can work with them.
Determine what services you can pay for and whether those services align with your goals. A good counselor will listen to you, get a feel for what you need and then recommend a plan or package based on your situation.
Having an initial conversation can also give you a gut check about the counselor so you know whether you get along well and feel comfortable with them. Feeling a high level of comfort is important when going through the admissions process. You’ll be sharing details with the counselor and getting their advice.
When It Makes Sense To Use A College Admissions Counselor
Deciding whether college admissions counselors are worth it largely depends on your situation, the schools you’re trying to get into and what you hope to accomplish during and after your time at university.
For example, if you’re trying to get into a prestigious school, particularly one that will cover tuition costs for those with need, a college admissions counselor can make a lot of sense — and be worth the cost. A good consultant can help you navigate the process and increase your chances of getting accepted into a top-tier school.
Check the acceptance rate as well. If the college has a high acceptance rate, you might not need help from an admissions counselor. On the other hand, if you want to get into a specific program, and there are degree-based admissions that have a lower acceptance rate, you might want the services of a counselor to help you understand what’s needed for the specific program.
Finally, if you feel stuck and don’t know the first step to getting accepted to the school of your choice, or you aren’t sure what classes and extracurriculars will help you stand out, a college admissions consultant can guide your steps and help you create a roadmap.
Not everyone needs a college admissions counselor. However, they can be worth it if you take the time to understand your needs and goals. You should be in a position to follow the advice offered by the counselor and be prepared to vet between three and five consultants to determine which is most likely going to meet your needs. While a good college admissions counselor can’t guarantee you’ll be accepted into your dream school, they can help you put together a plan that increases your chances of success.
Editor: Ashley Barnett Reviewed by: Robert Farrington