There’s one thing teachers, guidance counselors, admissions officers, parents, and students can all agree on: the college admissions landscape is complicated and has changed a lot over the past several years. What used to be enough to all but guarantee one’s acceptance to Harvard now reads as standard amidst the impressive applications of elite college hopefuls. This discrepancy between what was and what is causing a lot of intergenerational tension and stress. Every day there are high school seniors who would rather write a dozen Common App essays than hear their parents chide them about the process one more time, and parents who are nearly at their wits’ end trying to cajole their children into more extracurriculars, volunteering, extra tutoring sessions, and other gimmicks in the never-ending struggle to set themselves apart from their peers.
Try as they might, school guidance counselors are often less connected to the college application process and overwhelmed with dozens of seniors, so they can’t always provide the individualized advice college-bound students require. The stress that students and parents face during the college application process can feel insurmountable at times, but there is a solution. A private college counselor, offers the guidance students need and the peace of mind that parents seek.
6 Reasons to Hire a Private College Counselor/ Consultant
Building a Strong Student-Mentor Relationship
A private college counselor, and more specifically a near-peer mentor, can mean the difference between a student attending their dream school or safety school. Guidance from near-peer mentors should actually feel to each student like wisdom from their older brother or sister who has recently been through the process and wants them to succeed. Incredible results happen within this framework of near-peer mentorship. Students feel more supported and encouraged as well as have more success in gaining admission to their best-fit top choice schools. When students work with mentors who are only a few years their senior, they often break out of their shells and begin to identify passions that spur a dedication and commitment no one even knew they were capable of. Through the aid of a compassionate and patient mentor, these kids start nonprofits, create businesses, and make significant impacts in their schools and communities. Most notably, they become leaders and build the confidence, skills, and tools they need to be successful in college and beyond.
Developing Skills and Passions
College counselors not only play a vital role during Senior Fall but also the years leading up to it. While applying to college only takes place within the first few months of senior year, preparing a solid college application is a four-year-long process that takes place over the course of high school. High school counselors will advise students on what tests to take when and help them design their course schedule, but they don’t always go the extra mile of providing a roadmap to success outside of the classroom. Students have interests, passions, and emotional needs that need to be addressed at every stage of life. A mentor’s role goes beyond helping students get into college; they help students build habits like productive time-management and self-awareness that will help grow into their full potential. A private college counselor help develop a student’s portfolio throughout their high school career and then present it in a clear and meaningful way to colleges.
Getting Help Beyond College Application Season
In this competitive day of college admissions, many students get deferred or waitlisted by their top-choice schools. The frustration and heartache that comes with a “not yet” letter poses a unique challenge to students who then must write a letter of continued interest. A college counselor can help students craft a persuasive letter that will give them an edge in the next round of admissions.
Designing a College List
With so many colleges to choose from and more students studying out of state than ever before, it’s difficult for high-achieving students to narrow down their college lists. Applying to college requires a lot of time from students and money from their parents, and in the end, you can only matriculate at one school. Many students fall into one of two categories. Either they set their sights on all eight Ivy League schools, plus other top schools like Stanford and Duke, or they under-shoot and only consider “safety” schools. The first type of student bases his/her decision on prestige and high rankings alone, whereas the second type allows their fear and anxiety about applying to college get in the way of their true potential. This kind of thinking makes more work for the students, as they end up over applying to schools on either end of the spectrum. We’ve found that the best approach is for students to apply to a few reaches, match, and safety schools, and ultimately to choose the school that’s the best cultural and academic fit for them. Near peer mentors are not only knowledgeable about colleges but also have recently attended college and have friends who studied at other universities. These mentors give students valuable insights into campus life and special features of each school that aren’t readily apparent after a google search. Guidance from a near-peer mentor can help students craft a college list consisting of reach, match, and safety schools that uniquely aligns with that student’s needs.
Understanding the American College System
International students intending to study in the U.S. especially benefit from college counseling. Just as the college admissions landscape has transformed over the past few decades, it differs greatly from country to country. The best way to learn how to navigate an unfamiliar territory is by following a local. Differences in what’s socially acceptable and valued come across through the personal essay and supplemental essays. Students should demonstrate their awareness of these differences by staying true to their personality while presenting themselves in a way that is appealing and attractive to college admissions officers. In addition to essay writing, international students benefit from advice about American standardized testing. A private college counselor can help a student determine what a “good” score looks like for them, decide whether they should take the SAT or ACT, and strategize for success on the SAT subject tests.
Parents have jobs and guidance counselors have their hands full with a large roster of students. Neither one ends up with enough time to help their students who have schedules full of studying, homework, extracurriculars, and volunteer work. A private college counselor does more than simply assign more tasks for a student to do; they act as accountability partners who help students keep their goals in sight and stay on the path toward achieving them.
Applying to college signals an impending major life change for each and every student, and a shift in family dynamics, as a result, is inevitable. Throughout this emotionally laborious process, it’s important for students to understand what they’re capable of and not put themselves under too much pressure. If the stress of the season is getting to you or to your child, consider the benefits of a mentor who can act as a friend as well as a teacher, encouraging students to live up to their potential in the college admissions process. It’s amazing to see what students can accomplish with the right support and motivation from a near-peer mentor.
Finding the Right Consultant for Your Budget
Fees for college consultants range from few hundred dollars per hour to over six figures for an all-inclusive multi-year package. What sets services apart is the experience and proven results. You get what you pay for, so be wary of consultants with low hourly rates and endless billing.
Some important questions to ask when selecting the right consultant for you include:
- Does the consultant work full-time with the company? Or are they part-time or contractors?
- How often will they meet with my student? Will it be difficult to get in touch with my student’s consultant?
- Does the consultant offer support with extracurricular development? If so, in what capacity?
- Will they be assigned a designated mentor? Or will my student meet with a different person each time?