The 10 Things To Consider Before Hiring a College Counselor

With the college admissions process becoming increasingly competitive, students and parents are taking additional steps to ensure success. Some families consider hiring independent college counselors or independent educational consultants to adequately prepare for the college admissions process. School counselors are often bogged down by administrative tasks and/or have an insurmountable student caseload that may prevent them from providing students the one-on-one attention necessary to successfully apply to college. The American School Counseling Association, recommends a 250-to-1 student to counselor ratio; however, only three states maintain this student to counselor ratio.

Do I Even Need a College Consultant?

Before you begin the search for a college admissions consultant, ask yourself why you need one. The internet is one of the most accessible resources for discovering information and the answers to the college admissions process is ultimately one click away. However, finding information that is tailored for your specific college admissions timeline can be strenuous. College consultants make it their job to search for this information and make sure they are sharing it with their students with how it relates to them.

College advisors have more experience in the admissions process than most students have ever encountered. Most parents want to be involved in their child’s college admissions process but fall short when it’s time to recognize newer terminology like “Common App” or “Secondary at Harvard.” College consultants take the confusion out of the process and facilitate your child’s success.

Hiring a college consultant cuts the college admissions process in half. While a student still has to complete their applications and apply on their own, Prepory’s college advisors help with finding schools, deciding on majors and interests, editing and revising their essays, and so much more. Additional assistance helps the student focus on what’s important and stay on track to meet deadlines.

What Should You Look For in a College Consultant?

There are a multitude of options available when looking for college admissions assistance. Comparing and contrasting each company’s service offerings and level of expertise can be tricky. Here are some factors to consider as you shop for the right college admissions coach:

1. How accessible will my college counselor be?

  • Effective communication with your college admissions consultant is integral to how you benefit from this type of help. It is normal for college counselors to have calls scheduled at specific times but the college admissions process is unpredictable and knowing that your consultant is just a phone call away can alleviate a lot of potential stress.

  • Do you have to meet with your college advisor in-person or can you communicate with them online? Technology has transformed how students work with college counselors and make working with your counselor a lot easier. When searching for a college consultant, confirm there is an online system used to manage your information as well as communication.

    • At Prepory, even coaches who are studying abroad make time to work with their students. Seasoned coaches like Lucine Poturyan, who spent her fall semester in Amsterdam, managed to keep up with her students’ sessions at their regular meeting time.

2. Is a college consultant affordable?

  • While you should not put a price on your child’s success, many college admissions counseling companies have fees that are inaccessible for the vast majority of families. Many college admissions counseling companies capitalize on parent anxiety and families abroad simply because they know they can. As you explore options for college counseling, you should compare expertise and outcomes rather than price prestige.

  • Some college admissions consulting companies are charging parents thousands of dollars for their services. However, when shopping prices, don’t dive into the cheapest one. Make sure you conduct thorough research so you know what you’re paying for and it seems fair. When looking for college admissions assistance, try to find a reasonable price that won’t break the bank.

3. Does this college advisor have sufficient experience in college admissions?

  • Like any other consulting service, it is imperative that your college consultant is extremely knowledgeable about the college admissions process. Does your counselor have experience working with many types of students to successfully navigate the admissions process? Does your counselor use proprietary methodology or curriculum to advise students? As the number of college counseling organizations continues to grow, it is more important now than ever to confirm your college consultant is sufficiently prepared to maximize your success. At Prepory, we use a proprietary curriculum built by former admissions office employees at the nation’s most selective schools including UPenn and UChicago, educational psychologists from Harvard, and accomplished college admissions experts.

  • You don’t need experience in college admissions to be a college consultant. If you’ve attended a college or university, you’ve been through the college admissions process and qualify. It’s important for a college admissions coach to have experience working with students or other peers. Whether it was in a youth group or as a tutor, college admissions coaches should have the ability to captivate an audience and build rapport. Prepory coaches complete extensive training before ever working with a student.

  • A college admissions coach won’t know everything about the admissions process but you should trust that they are willing to do the research.

4. Does my career advisor share the same interests as me?

  • It is always easier to speak with someone who has similar interests as you do. If your college admissions consultant shares an interest in the same topics as you, they’ll likely be better prepared to assist you in navigating the admissions process for students interested in pursuing your specific major. However, this is more important for 11th and 12th-grade students than it is for 9th and 10th-grade students. Nonetheless, you want your college admissions advisor to be someone you’re comfortable speaking with. Do you see yourself getting along with this person or do you think it may be difficult to build a connection with this person?

5. Is my career advisor relatable?

  • One of the most important things to consider when selecting your college admissions coach is relatability. Getting along with the person that is going to help you get into college is really important as it’ll help you be more attentive and responsive during your advising sessions. Prepory near-peer mentorship model pairs current high school students with current college students at the nation’s most selective colleges and universities to work together to prepare for the college application process. Despite being a professional, our coaches are young students and are able to speak about anything from the latest news to the popular music artists of the time. Our students feel comfortable with them and see them as both their advisor and their friend. Being open, honest, and friendly with your coach can be a huge differentiator between a smooth college admissions process and a rocky one.

6. What topics will the career consultant be covering? How much will I learn?

  • The majority of undergraduate admissions offices state they use a holistic review process; therefore, you want your child to receive a “holistic” service. Some college admissions counseling organizations are narrowly focused on specific parts of the application process like the personal statement or financial aid. However, the college admissions process does not begin when students are writing their essays or completing the CSS Profile. It begins in 9th grade, and students should receive counseling throughout high school in order to be best prepared for the application process. At Prepory, we start working with students as early as 9th grade. Our college admissions counseling program includes one-on-one college advising sessions, essay, and resume critiques, mock interview prep, college exploration, and highly individualized collaboration to drive student success.

  • You want to make sure you’re getting the services that will benefit you the most. Some college admissions consulting companies only provide a la carte services while others follow a comprehensive curriculum. At Prepory, we help high school students in grades 9th through 12th navigate the college admissions process through small group discussions, individualized sessions, specialized workshops, and online webinars. We recognize parents often feel “left out” of the college admissions process. We take care of that by conducting Parent Check-Ins that gives the parent the opportunity to speak with a Prepory HQ member and their child’s coach to get a brief overview of their child’s performance.

7. What is their methodology?

  • Each college admissions consultant will have a different approach to college admissions counseling. Gauge each company’s methodology and how they achieve their outcomes. Search for companies that provide substantial hours of service with a human and use digital content to complement their service rather solely using digital content meant for students to read on their own.

8. How important is diversity to my college advisor?

  • In recent years diversity has become increasingly important in the college admissions process. College admissions officers are interested in all kinds of diversity (e.g. socioeconomic status, academic interests, hometown, gender identity, life experience, and many more). When comparing college admissions consulting companies, you too should consider the diversity of the company’s team and clientele. Some consultants have lots of experience assisting one type of student. For example, athletes or international students. Other college admissions consulting organizations have a breadth of knowledge across all college admissions topics and experiences; therefore, they may be better suited to help you. To learn more about how diversity should play a role in choosing a college consultant, read Science Daily’s research on How Ethnically Diverse Workforces May Improve Customer Experience.

9. How can I ensure my college advisor has my best interest in mind?

  • You want to be certain that the people helping you or your child has your family’s best interest in mind. After the 2019 college admissions scandal, it is important to confirm the company you choose to hire is prepping students in an ethical and trustworthy manner. Also, if the company you choose to hire treats their employees well, the employees will be happier to help you and propel the company’s positive mission and beliefs.

10. Has this college counseling company received bad reviews? What’s their reputation?

  • Whether you’re working with a solo consultant or a larger company, ensure the service you’re receiving is reputable and has positive feedback. Read testimonials on the company’s website as well as reviews left on Google or Yelp. It’s important to know the impact this service has had on real people.

  • Whether it’s an international company or a small local start-up, you want to make sure the service you’re receiving is reputable and has positive feedback. Look for testimonials from customers and read Google or Yelp reviews. It’s important to know the impact the services have had on real people.

Guidance counselors are an influential part of a successful college admissions process, but we recognize they’re often overwhelmed with their student load. For parents and students looking for additional help, college admissions consultants are the way to go. Before deciding on a consultant, make sure you’re asking yourself these questions to ensure you’re receiving the best service possible.

Alix Zevetski

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