Navigating the college application process on your own can feel like making a solo cross-country trip with no road map.
While parents, school counselors and teachers are all great resources, some students want more intensive, personalized college admissions assistance.
If that’s you, what should you do? One resource that many students use is a personal college consultant.
Who are these people? What do they do? How much do they cost? Read on…
What Do College Consultants Do?
The goal of a college consultant is first and foremost to get you into the college of your choice. Many consulting firms claim a staggeringly high success rate. Even though a private consultant should be able to help you create strong college applications, there are no guarantees of acceptance.
A consultant will help you craft your application, ensuring that you play to your strengths as well as provide all the information and paperwork needed.
In addition to helping you improve your admission essays and other application materials, college consultants may offer SAT and ACT prep and tutoring and general college planning help and guidance. Some consultants can even offer you an analysis of your chances of acceptance to your top schools.
Some companies may even offer services like interview coaching, teaching you how to put your best foot forward in admissions interviews. Private education consultants are often retired or former admissions officers at colleges. One of the greatest advantages some consultants offer is their insider knowledge of the application process.
When Should You Start With a College Consultant?
For most students, starting with a consultant during junior or senior year of high school will be sufficient, as that is the key window for exam prep, choosing colleges and filling out applications.
For students with a lot of work to do, or those aiming for particularly competitive colleges, consulting is available for all four years of high school. Some programs are even available for middle school students.
What Will It Cost?
There are a large number and variety of consulting firms out there, and naturally, they vary greatly in price. Depending on which company you choose, how much guidance you need and for how long you need it, you can expect to pay anywhere between a few hundred dollars to upwards of $40,000 (for intensive, four-year assistance packages).
Most college consultants will advise that you buy a package deal, which will often include essay help, SAT and ACT tutoring, and admissions guidance. Some of these deals take the form of a series of workshops, while others offer a set number of hours of service.
Some companies also offer “a la carte” options. This is ideal for students who are confident in some areas but not in others, for example those who have good test scores but need help crafting an essay.
Some consultants will work on a per-application basis, giving you feedback on an application for roughly $150 to $500.
Is College Consulting Right For Me?
Only you can decide whether or not you need college admissions help, but here are a few questions you could consider:
- Is the cost feasible for me?
- Am I aiming for a highly competitive college, such as an Ivy League school?
- Do I usually struggle with writing effective essays or with high-pressure exams?
- Am I far enough along in the college planning process that I need consulting?
If you feel the cost of private consulting is too high, remember that there are numerous college resources available to you. In fact, sometimes the personal knowledge that your teachers, counselors and parents have might be the most valuable asset to your application process.
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