Making The Most Out Of A College Consultant

by Editor on May 8, 2013

African American / Latino Parent Summit 2012

As college admissions become more complex and competitive, students who are still going to start their first year at college need to keep themselves updated about college application requirements. The problem is, college admissions are no longer just about having the money to enroll, but it now entails plenty of paperworks and a variety of requirements which can be confusing, in and of themselves.

And though high-school counselors can help guide college-bound hopefuls to some degree,   counselors are typically outnumbered with a student-to-counselor ratio of more than 300 to 1.  Here’s where college consultants come in.

College Consultants—Who Are They?

A college consultant, also known as an ‘educational consultant’, can be an independent advisor or be part of a consultant firm.  These professionals meticulously guide and support students and entire organizations with helping to structure and fine-tune their educational goals, college life transitions and the accompanying logistics.

Some consultants specialize in targeting just college planning and admissions while others focus, solely, on college-bound students who might be struggling with learning disabilities and/or emotional and behavioral difficulties.  Other specialists deal, exclusively, with students interested in a private secondary school environment, while other consultants cater to seasoned college students seeking admission into graduate school.

College Consultants—How Are They Paid?

Since college consultants offer guidance to low, middle and high-income families, the fees can vary widely.  Some consultants charge by the session while others charge set fees for ‘packaged’ options where families can select according to their particular needs.   Some of these ‘packages’ offer unlimited hours of service, in which case, a family should expect to pay more.  For those families with limited income, consultants offer sliding scale payments commensurate with a family’s income or even offer fee-free sessions for those who qualify.

College Consultants—Know Whom You Choose!

Consultants typically love what they do and their dedication to professionalism is of utmost importance.  They must meet rigid educational and experience requirements and are committed to on-going professional development and have pledged to abide by ethics that meet exemplary career standards.

Students and/or parents should request references from past clients that have worked with any college consultant under consideration.  In fact, effective consultants will provide that information voluntarily.

From the very beginning, families should make sure they are very clear about a consultant’s fees, counseling process, educational philosophy and expectations.

College Consultants—How Do They Help?

These educational professionals are a multi-faceted resource, and the following information includes, but is in no way limited to, the types of assistance consultants can provide:

1…College Admissions Profile-Assessment:

The strengths and achievements of the student, both academic and non-academic are thoroughly evaluated so a ‘custom fit’, as much as possible, can be achieved by selecting a college that best meets the strengths, interests, personality traits, needs and desires of the student.

2…College Entrance Exams:

Questions and concerns are addressed regarding which college entrance exams would be the most appropriate. Scheduling test dates is solidified and test-taking assistance can be provided through the use of mock tests.  Errors are discussed and evaluated. More often than not, this relieves a good deal of expected anxiety and, in the process, self-confidence is bolstered.

3…College Applications and Essays:

A consultant will help the student establish a time-lined schedule to ensure all applications and other pertinent materials easily meet deadline requirements.  Consultants might also review application features, such as essays.

4…Financial Aid:

If a student qualifies for financial aid, a college consultant will know how and where to navigate to make the monetary assistance come to fruition.  Merit scholarship possibilities will be explored, as well.

This scratches only the surface of how college consultants can intervene and assist.   The preparation a student can receive logistically and the feelings of advocacy and self-assuredness a student can glean mentally and emotionally, can make all the difference in the world between a family feeling doubtful and ill-prepared to one that feels excited and primed for a new life-experience waiting, just around the corner!

About the Author

Karen is an educator and writer in Iowa.  To learn more about college consultants, please visit

photo by: COD Newsroom

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