Why Hire a Private College Counselor?

A four-year college education for one child now can cost up to $250,000. For most families their children's education becomes their third greatest lifetime expense, after their home purchase and retirement savings. Moreover, college costs have been increasing faster than inflation and income growth. It is important that families make this third large investment wisely. Mistakes are expensive, as when students are poorly suited to their college and underperform; when they stretch their education to six or more years; when they change colleges or majors and cannot transfer credits; or when they drop out altogether. Repaying student loans, now averaging almost $30,000, adds to this expense.

High school-based college counseling resources are especially vulnerable to budget cuts because protecting student-teacher ratios is often a school's top priority. Fewer counselors must share responsibilities outside of college counseling: scheduling, disciplinary action, personal guidance, and documentation. Counselors are frequently called upon for substitute teaching. Nationally, the student-to-college counselor ratio is 450; in California, on average, there are 900 students for each counselor. Receiving individual attention is increasingly rare.

Underadvised students and parents enter an application process that has become progressively more complex. Students' and their families' time to master the admissions process is often compressed into eight to twelve months before making  a major commitment. America's nearly 4,000 college are highly diverse. They are becoming more expensive. And many are becoming more selective. Private college admission consultants can navigate this world. Consultants are knowledgeable of colleges beyond a school counselor's go-to list. A private consultant can assist with essays, resumes, interviews, internships, and summer programs. A good private college admission consultant is continuously updating college admission information to share with clients.

This decrease in resources and increase in need have brought many families to private college consulting. Between 2003 and 2013 the estimated number of families using consultants has increased from 9% to 26%. Consultants have the ability to listen closely to students' needs and interests, explain their options and opportunities, revisit issues as often as necessary, and help students craft a compelling and cohesive application. Consultants increase the likelihood of a good college match. Private consultants also bring families invaluable peace of mind by helping them enjoy their child's last year of living at home.

Photo: Widener Library at Harvard University, by Ian Lamont / CC BY