The last few posts have discussed whether a student needs a private college counselor and some of the factors to consider in searching for a counselor. Today I want to talk about what families should look for to find a college admissions counselor to work with. Here are some questions you would want to ask anyone you are considering hiring.
1. What kind of experience in college admissions do you have? Many former college counselors talk about their experience but if their only experience is for a year at one particular college, they don’t have the background to help a student find the best college for their needs. Instead, you want to know how many years a person has in college admissions counseling, what type of students they work with, how many colleges they visit each year and how many students they have worked with in the past five years.
2. How many students do you work with each year? One of the advantages of working with a private college admissions counselor is that a student can receive more personalized attention.If the consultant is working with too many students, your student may not get the attention they need.
3. What is your philosophy in working with students? A good private college consultant will work to find the best college for each student. Some consultants, however, only focus on getting students into what are perceived as prestigious colleges regardless of whether such a school is a good fit for a student. It might be nice to tell your friends about the prestigious college but if the student fails or drops out in the first year because it wasn’t a good fit, all you have done is waste time and money. If a consultants website focuses on the Ivy League then they aren’t really concerned with best fit.
4. How much time is devoted to helping each student? Many consultants place a limit on the number of hours that they will work with a student. If you are seeking to find the best college for your needs, you should not put a limit on the time it takes to find, and apply to, that college. Look for a private college consultant that provides unlimited time to work with each student.
5. When is the college consultant available? You want to know what hours the counselor is available to work with the student. Most students are not free from 9-5. You should make sure that the counselor you are considering is available in the evenings and on weekends to work with your student.
6. What services will be provided by the private college counselor? There are many issues to be considered in finding and getting accepted to the best college. Does the private counselor help with all areas of need for one cost or is there a separate charge for different activities. If the cost of college is a consideration, you should also discuss whether the college counselor provides information regarding financial aid issues as well as admissions. Hint- If the counselor suggests focusing on finding scholarship money outside the colleges, they are not fluent in how college financing works for most people.
7. What professional college admissions organizations do you belong to? The gold standard for a private college admissions counselor is to be a professional member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association(IECA).
“IECA is the Harvard of the counseling profession.”
—Dr. William Fitzsimmons, Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid, Harvard University
Other reputable organizations that private college counselors may belong to include the Higher Education Consultants Association(HECA) and the National Association for College Admission Counseling.
8. Can you provide recommendations from past clients?
9. What is the cost of hiring a particular private college consultant? According to the IECA, the average cost for a package of helping students over several years is about $3,600. This can vary depending on the part of the country the consultant is located in but there is no need to spend substantially more than this. You may also ask if the money is all due up front or whether a consultant will accept other arrangements. Some consultants will consider splitting a payment into several parts to make sure that the counselor and student are able to form a working relationship.
Private college admissions counselors can provide help in a variety of areas. But to make sure you have the right person to work with your student, you have to ask the right questions.