If you are my age, feeling 29 and actually 54, the college application process that you remember is no longer relevant. It is a completely different beast. No more paper applications, hands cramping from writing essays, and being finished after applying to 2-3 schools. The game has changed. It is a detailed, often overwhelming process filled with questions: How to apply? When to visit? How to keep track of everything? How can we afford college? These are just a few of the pressure points that families are dealing with these days. A good college consultant will have the answers and take the guesswork out of the process. Finding the right school academically, socially, geographically, and financially can be difficult if you are a first-timer with a Generation Z student.
Why work with a consultant?
1.Lower family stress.
In a post-covid world, even the mention of “college” seems to stress out students and families alike. Working with a private consultant is a great way to save time and money figuring out the college application process. I often think of it as having the bumpers up when you bowl duckpins…you simply will not go into the gutter; if they are good at what they do, you will soon be rolling strikes!
A professional understands the whole process and can team up with you every step of the application from creating a list of schools to activities to essays to interviews and negotiating better offers. A consultant is a curator of the infomation that will come flying at you from many sources, most of which are incorrect or slightly off with their information because the only right answer is IT DEPENDS. The answer to any of your college questions is always, it depends.
2. Schools grow more competitive every year.
Hunderds of colleges are happy to admit mere mortals with a B average and “good enough” test scores. In fact, many of those institutions will provide your kid with the best possible eduation for them and allow them to graduate at the top of their class, leverage internships and ultimatley become successful adults. But alas, many families are shooting for the top 25 list- and that is no easy mark to hit. Admission rates at highly selective colleges and universities are dipping into the single digits. Admissions rates ranging from 10 to 30% are the new normal.
Getting accepted at a top 25 univesity is like buying a lottery ticket- you just hope you win.
College acceptance FOMO has ignited mad rush to inflate GPA’s with the addition of AP classes, super-scoring and tutoring to push test scores to the limit, engaging in summer activities that include research and sometimes effecting change on a regional or national level. It is important to get past the universally popular names like universities that are in the movies (think Dartmouth and Animal House or Yale and the Gilmore Girls), places friends/family have attended, or the “I heard that……” opinions you cannot avoid at almost every social engagement with other parents.
How can we help? College consultants visit many colleges every year, so they understand the programs, outcomes and overall vibe at many more schools than you could even imagine. Here are 9 reasons some families do not look at some colleges.
3. Applying to more schools than ever.
Parents and students are often shocked by the extent of planning and thoughtfulness that goes into a successful college preparation and application process. There is the testing through College Board and ACT, the Common Application, the FAFSA, the CSS profile and many more letters in this alphabet soup. Not to mention the activity list, the essays, the teacher recommendations…
Working with a college consultant will help families navigate this sea of acronyms and keep them on track to hit deadlines and stay afloat. These days kids are over-scheduled, and tired, and would rather watch TikTok and YouTube than focus on college (because college seems so far away). You need to have college in your view starting as early as possible.
Managing the college application process is a full-time job—so why not entrust it to someone who does it full-time?
4. Guidance counselors are overwhelmed.
Statistics show that the average public school counselor-to-student ratio is over 400/1. This makes a private college consultants different from a high school guidance counselor: one-on-one attention.
Even counselors at private schools who primarily advise rising seniors don’t dig deep into extracurricular activities and help students start businesses, tie in their interests and activities to summertime off, or see the college application process as a continuous one. Most independent college counselors will be much more available to your family in the summer and evenings too. And, the most relevant ones use software that makes things much more organized like CounselMore College Counseling Software.
A private counselor is like a personal trainer at the gym. You will get results faster, tailored to what you need, and with personal accountability.
5. College is expensive.
Paying for college is a knot of confusion and we take pride in helping you untie it. There are hundreds of thousands of dollars on the line if you simply throw a Hail Mary and apply without a plan. Hiring an admissions consultant is an investment. This investment can be a good one for several reasons: you may recoup the money with the merit aid or need-based for which your student may qualify, you may have your sites on schools that will never offer a discount and therefore need to be off of your list, you may find that you just don’t have to time research, learn and execute with your student. Asking for help may be the key to finding several “right” schools for your child.
A seasoned consultant will be able to discuss your financial goals and find schools where your student will fit academically and socially, and that you can afford. We work with several groups that focus on affordability for our clients incliuding TuitionFit.org and Quatromoney.
Once you are ready to pull the trigger and seek help, you need to find a qualified college consultant. How?
1. Look at their website, their results and reviews from parents and students.
2. Ask other parents about their experiences with and without a professional.
2. Ask questions about the counselors’ experience and outcomes.
3. Shop around to find the right fit. If you and your student don’t connect with the counselor, it’s “game over.”
4. Make sure they provide complete, personalized support.
5. Understand the process. Make sure they have one.
6. confirm that your student is on board with your decision and will be engaged.
Lee Norwood is a member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association, Higher Education Consultants Association, NACAC Charactor Collaborative and she is on faculty with the CounselMore Business Development Academy. She speaks at industry conferences on topics like “Meeting Gen Z Where They Are” and “Growing Your Business” and she has been featured on podcasts with CollegeScoops, ThirdFloor Views, Tests And The Rest, and others.If you are interested in our process, our team, reviews and outcomes, just look at our website www.annapoliscollegeconsulting.com