Independent College Counselor: How to Choose the Right One

An independent consultant can supplement what the high school counselor offers.

An independent consultant can supplement what the high school counselor offers.

As your child progresses through high school, particularly now during the second semester of their sophomore and junior year, you’re probably thinking about whether you need an independent counselor to help with the college search and admission process.

High school counselors seem to be swamped and sometimes do not have the time to know each child well. It’s National High School Counselor Week… and we applaud their work! It is tireless and seemingly unending job. They are required to work for each student, as well as keep up on latest admission trends, train teachers, answer parents’ questions and report to the administration. We thank them for all they do!

An independent consultant, on the other hand, can supplement what the high school counselor offers. Your child is unique. Perhaps you want someone who will spend many hours with your child working to best understand his or her needs, dreams, talents and academic strengths and weaknesses. The independent educational consultant or college counselor should be respectful, using her skills and expertise to help reduce stress and anxiety for your teen and you. The independent counselor should strive to work as part of the college-bound team with the high school counselor, the college admissions offices, your teen and you to guide you to finding the best “fit” colleges.

Here are a few points to consider when seeking a private, independent college counselor:

  • The independent college counselor should have experience and knowledge of latest admissions trends.
  • The consultant should clearly state what services and costs are involved in their practice.
  • How many high school students does the consultant work with each year?
  • What professional training and experience does the college counselor have? Does she/he visit colleges?
  • What professional associations do they belong to? (There are national, NACAC and HECA, and regional, WACAC to which they might belong.)
  • The independent college counselor should be committed to maintaining the highest ethical standards as described by the National Association of College Admissions Counselors (NACAC).
  • The independent consultant should be willing to offer feedback on essays and review applications, but not write them!
  • There should be NO promise of results or guarantees of admission.

Getting your child into college is a daunting and stressful time for everyone involved. Be sure to feel comfortable with whomever you choose to work. The right person will likely be able to make this time enjoyable while helping to build your child’s confidence. You probably would love to look back on this time of your teenager’s life as very special. After all, adulthood is really just a very few short years ahead!

There is no secret to getting into the “right” college. But finding the right match that best fits your teen and family can also help reduce costs, and get your child into a career by the end of four years of college. An independent college counselor can help.

This post was provided by Nancy Wigley, Independent College Counselor with College Search Strategies, who was a guest on College Smart Radio on February 9th, 2013.  Listen to this broadcast on YouTube here.

Photo Credit: Dwonderwall

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