Navigating the college admissions process can cause great anxiety for parents who have invested significant time and money preparing their child for an important milestone in life – a college education. There is much more to this process than searching for a school and submitting an application.
The journey to college begins well in advance of senior year. Many students struggle to plan extracurriculars, courses, leadership opportunities, standardized tests, and the additional application requirements. They lack clarity on how to best communicate their value through college essays and letters of recommendation. Some fail to recognize the role of a strong academic record that does not just require good grades but also rigorous courses. The acceptance criteria for a student’s dream college can be quite difficult, frustrating, and expensive if not planned carefully. Here are six benefits to using a college consultant:
The average student-to-counselor ratio in Arkansas is 368 to 1, according to the American School Counselor Association in 2020. While high school counselors are an invaluable resource to students, they cannot devote the specialized attention college consultants provide to individual students. A college consultant devotes the necessary time for one-on-one counseling that helps students navigate the process and find the best fit colleges where they can thrive.
The college admissions process is constantly changing, and expert advice can alleviate the complexity of all the issues a family must consider. A college consultant worth hiring has formal education and training in college counseling, belongs to one of the professional associations (NACAC, IECA, or HECA), attends professional conferences, keeps up with new trends and evolving campus cultures from yearly college visits, and meets with admission representatives. They ethically use their expertise to guide and empower students on their journey to college and beyond.
Finding the Right Fit
Good college consultants emphasize "fit" and student success over simply getting in. Before the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the college dropout rate was about 40% and, while several factors are play into the dropout rate, one way of helping prevent it for a student is to find a school that is a great fit personally, financially, geographically, socially, and academically. College consultants specialize in learning about hundreds of colleges around the country through their yearly visits and their connection with admissions officers and colleagues. The detailed information gained on all types of schools provides students with insight that can help them find the perfect match where they will thrive.
Strategic College Planning
A college consultant assists students in positioning them for their best chance at admission to their top-choice college. They help students communicate their core message by strategically utilizing their personal statements, accomplishments, and high school record to unveil their individuality while demonstrating their interest in the school for which they are applying. A college consultant will consider every factor about students, which is gleaned from a thorough evaluation of their record, aptitude, and interests, to help them prepare a strong case for the admissions officers who will decide the next chapter of their life.
Navigates Financial Aid
It goes without saying that college can be costly. Affordability can be the deciding factor in whether a student attends the college of their choice or not. However, a college consultant can help the family navigate an array of sources of aid. Additionally, early preparation can open the door to more financial strategies to pay for college and prepare a family to access the various scholarships and financial aid programs available.
Peace of Mind
As a parent, you have seen your child grow and mature as a teenager. He or she is ready to embark on a new adventure in college but still needs to make it over the finish line. You want the best for your child, and you know the decision they are about to make is a big one and will require careful planning and a solid strategy. Consider seeking expert advice that can take the stress out of the college admissions process and give you and your child peace of mind. Hiring a college consultant can be a wise investment and a decision that can help your child thrive in a great school.
Steve Colley is an Independent Educational Consultant and the founder of Waypoint College Consulting in Little Rock. He is an Associate Member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA), a member of the National Association for College Admission Counseling, and the Southern Association for College Admission Counseling. He also holds a master’s degree from Harvard University and is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. Steve brings 6 years of leadership experience as a former Marine Corps Officer and 5 years of consulting experience with think tanks, nonprofits, and the U.S. Congress. He can be contacted at email@example.com.