Many families attempting to help their students with the college search and admission process find it to be more frustrating than fun. Others often think their student will receive the help they need from a school counselor, only to find little personal assistance was available. Some families stumble upon college consultants and are only too happy to turn the job over to them. College consulting can make a tremendous difference for students in the college admission process—and help families save money in the end. Usually, a college consultant assists students in selecting the right college, preparing for the ACT or SAT, and finding financial aid opportunities. For parents, it’s always better to be attentive in choosing the right person for the job. Here’s what you should know when you start looking for a college consultant for your student.
What to look for in a college consultant
College consultants are available to help students at any level, from traditional undergraduates to MBA admission. Regardless of where a student is on their higher education journey, a consultant should have:
- Years of professional college consulting experience with individual students
- An area of expertise
- Sufficient knowledge about academic assessments
- A certification or graduate degree inEducational Psychology
- The ability to get along well with students, their families, and others
Beyond these basics, here are six tips to follow before you hire a college consultant for your student.
1. Learn about their fees
Starting the college search is one of the most important parts of a student’s college planning process. It takes self-reflection and research to find schools that really fit their academic and personal needs. Don’t let them eliminate any schools because of cost—just as you shouldn’t eliminate the idea of getting a consultant for fear of the expense. The majority of students have a tough time with college planning, and the majority of parents don’t have the time and expertise to assist them. A lot of private college consultants charge reasonable fees and are willing to work with families to make their services affordable.
2. Verify their experience and reputation
A college consultant’s experience and reputation matter when it comes to handling your student’s future education. These professionals should always have the same thing in mind: placing a student in the best environment where they can learn how to meet their goals and achieve success while doing so. They’re there for students to gain the confidence they’ll need to move toward their educational dreams and expectations. When choosing a college consultant, make sure that you find someone you can trust who has a proven track record of successfully placing students. Before you make your choice, talk with friends and family and get some recommendations or advice.
3. Ensure they’ll have your student’s best interests in mind
Some online college counselors offer free advice on occasion for the purpose of gathering information to prepare for the road ahead—but if you’re hiring a consultant for pay, they should have your specific student’s best interests in mind. A consultant will offer more one-on-one time to discuss your student’s goals, then guide them through the proper processes necessary to achieve them. A consultant who’s invested in their students should be consistently available to your student to help them better understand their options when trying to choose from several different schools. They’ll discuss all the different things worth considering when figuring out which school has the most to offer your student.
4. Make sure they’re ethical and transparent
With the cost of tuition rising steadily each year, it’s important that students prepare for college knowing the candid truth about admission chances and costs. Diligent attention to many details from a consultant will ensure that students spend less time and money completing their college education. Failure to implement these actions will result in lost time and money as well as increased frustration, stress, and anxiety. When finding a consultant, make sure they’re willing to tell the facts and guide your student to the most sound decision for their future.
5. Match their area of expertise to your student’s strengths
To start, you should review your student's academic record and standardized test scores with a high school counselor to determine their intellectual abilities and establish realistic expectations. Once a career direction is determined, a college consultant who has expertise in their fields of interest can put college admission and financial aid/scholarships into perspective in a realistic and practical manner. A consultant can help your student build a list of schools that meet your student’s personal criteria. This way, the whole process will be streamlined when it’s time for them to submit their applications.
6. Understand their methodology
From beginning to end, the whole college planning process will be less stressful if you follow the consultant’s guidelines—but before you hire them, make sure their methods mesh well with your student. A college consultant will provide all the information your student needs to find their colleges of interest, apply to those schools, and pay for it. Work as close as you can with the college consultant’s office throughout this process. This information will augment the work you and your student will do with the counselor/advisor.
With deliberate planning and intentionality, college can be one of the most exciting and challenging chapters in a person's life. It’s the last big step before entering adulthood and a world of work and responsibilities. Because of the tremendous cost in both time and money, students should maximize every aspect of college to make it the most rewarding experience possible. Implementing wisdom from a consultant will ensure that your student’s college days won’t only be good but great!
For more advice on helping your student through the college search process, check out our Parents section.