Are college counselors helpful?

Is college admissions counseling worth it? College counseling can be a significant financial investment for sure, but for many families, it is worth it — especially when they consider the cost of attending college. Hiring a college admissions consultant could help a student gain the competitive edge that they need to get into their top school. That said, college counselors cannot make promises.

When it comes to applying for college, the numbers can be overwhelming. Elite schools boast single digit admissions rates, a four-year education can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, and applicants are often required to write a multitude of essay responses versus a single personal statement. If the thought of it all makes your head spin, the good news is that there’s help out there — in the form of college admissions counselors.

Counselors can provide the individual attention that many seniors need when applying to college. They compare colleges, keep your child on a timeline, assist with financial aid documents, and help with dreaded application essays.

If you’re considering hiring a college admissions counselor, here’s what you should know.

A counselor tailors the admissions process to the individual. They begin by helping a student figure out what he/she enjoys, then researching colleges that are aligned with those interests and the student’s qualifications. Counselors understand how to read college profiles, know the odds of admission, and possess inside knowledge about what specific colleges are looking for in applicants.

Application essays are one of the most common reasons individuals seek outside help. Counselors encourage students to brainstorm beyond obvious topics and guide them to articulate their passions in clear, interesting ways that help them stand out from other candidates. They also provide extensive editing services.

Working with a counselor can help alleviate stress for both students and parents. Students often feel overwhelmed by the application process and many parents don’t have the knowledge base or the time to effectively guide their kids through it. Counselors keep students on a timeline so that important deadlines — for applications, teacher recommendation letters, financial aid and more — aren’t missed. They also ensure that quality applications are submitted.

If you don’t want to wait until senior year, counselors can also help younger kids plan which classes to take, encourage extracurricular involvement and summer activities, explore interests and passions, and decide which standardized exams make the most sense.

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