College Admissions FAQ
Why should I use an independent counselor?
The college search process can seem overwhelming to many students and their families, whether they already have a good idea of the kind of school they wish to attend or are totally undecided about the matter. Moreover, many students have limited access to their college guidance counselors, many of whom are assigned too many students to enable them to spend much time with individual advisees, much less with their families. And, of course, many students welcome third-party counsel on settling on a major, identifying their strengths as a college applicant, and, above all, about finding the right “fit” for college.
Independent counselors are generally more accessible and available at more convenient times to students and, very importantly, to their parents. More importantly, independent counselors can spend the necessary time with each client to help the advisee successfully complete each stage of the college search. Whether advising a student who has little notion of what to look for in a college or a student who is very focused on a particular set of preferences for college, an independent counselor can provide another useful and well-informed perspective to the college search and valuable insights into selecting the right colleges to which to apply, investigating financial aid opportunities, and underscoring effectively your strengths in your college applications.
See also the Higher Education Consultants Association (HECA) statement about this question at: http://hecaonline.org/consultant_help.
The college guidance at my school is considered very good. Do I really need an independent counselor?
You may not. I have been a college admission professional long enough to know that there are many dedicated and effective college counselors working at high schools throughout the country. (Indeed, I have often admired the work they do, sometimes with modest recognition.) Many students and their parents, though, seek greater flexibility in their access to a college counselor and a knowledgeable third party to complement the efforts of their high school.
Why should I use College Counseling and Consulting LLC instead of another independent counselor?
Click here for the section of this website that addresses this precise question. Let me emphasize here that not all independent counselors have any actual experience working in a college admissions office, and few have the depth and breadth of my professional admissions experience. To be sure, you should feel comfortable with your college counselor, so only you, ultimately, can decide which independent counselor might serve you best.
When is the best time to begin working with an independent counselor?
Most services an independent counselor can provide you are best accepted before the end of sophomore year or the beginning of junior year, but counselors are typically prepared to accept new clients who are beginning sophomores or are already seniors, as well. If you would like help selecting the right courses in high school to prepare you for college, of course, consulting with an independent counselor as early as ninth grade is in order.
Will I get help with securing more financial aid?
Yes, but to different degrees, depending on the counselor. Nearly all independent college counselors are familiar with the Net Price Calculators of colleges, the role of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) in establishing eligibility for need-based aid, and with how to investigate merit scholarships at the schools to which you apply or from other sources. They can also provide advice on how to try to compare (and appeal) financial aid offers from schools.
Certified College Planners are a different group of independent counselors, however. They focus more precisely on financial strategies. If you are inclined to seek a financial aid consultant, be sure they are certified and that they actually provide advice and counsel.
Will an independent counselor help me choose a major?
Yes. I, however, caution my advisees neither to confuse selecting a major with selecting a career nor to panic about being undecided as to major. To be sure, for some professions, such as engineering and architecture, failure to major in certain disciplines will add time to your time toward certification.
How much time will I spend with an independent counselor?
This depends largely on you. Many consulting services will include a required initial meeting of between one and two hours, after which you can either sign on to a comprehensive program or for specific services or consultation by the hour. (This is, in fact, how I work with clients at College Counseling & Consulting LLC.) Some students only seek help with their college essays, for example, but many prefer to work with a counselor on the full array of services related to the college search.
- Higher Education Associations
- National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC)
- Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA)
- Higher Education Consultants Association (HECA)
- 12 Questions to Ask Before Hiring an Independent Educational Consultant
- 12 Warning Signs that an Independent Educational Consultant is Not Worth Hiring
- Working With A HECA Member Consultant
Links & Resources