Many students and families opt to hire an independent college counselor to supplement the support they receive from their high school counselor. So, how do you pick the right college consultant for you?

College admissions counselor

Always request a preliminary meeting or phone conversation with any counselor you are considering. These questions will help you decide if a particular counselor is the right choice for your family.

Who’s who?

Does your college counselor work solo or would you have access to team of coaches? What is everyone’s role, and who would be your go-to contact?

How accessible are they?

How often will you meet your admissions counselor, either virtually or in-person? Are you able to contact them between meetings for quick questions? Applying to college can be overwhelming, and knowing you have a coach in your corner for advice and encouragement can make a huge difference.

Are they dedicated to helping you find YOUR best-fit college?

The right college for you is not necessarily the most prestigious school or the school where your parents or older siblings went. Instead, it’s the school that is the best fit for your unique personality, goals, and interests. Your college counselor should be serious about getting to know you, so they can help you find (and get into!) your dream school.

What services do they offer?

A good independent counselor should be upfront about rates and services, but if they don’t offer this information make sure to ask! College counselors may offer any of the following services:

  • College search
  • Final college list
  • Strategy sessions related to:
    • Sending SAT/ACT scores
    • Senior year courses
    • Extracurricular activities
    • Teacher recommendation letters
    • Early decision or early action applications
  • Application and essay review
  • College interview prep
  • FAFSA and financial aid advice
  • College decisions

What about financial aid?

Getting into college is one thing. Paying for college is another adventure entirely. A smart financial aid plan should factor into every stage of the college process. Ask any potential college counselors about their financial aid strategy. 

What is their background in college admissions?

Be on the lookout for credentials as well as real-world experience. Many private counselors have worked in college admission offices or have counseled at the high school level. Look for degrees in Counseling and Higher Ed, membership in national organizations like IECA (Independent Educational Consultant Association) or NACAC (National Association for College Admission Counseling), and certification from an accredited counseling program.

What is their track record?

Private college counselors will often brag their clients' acceptances on their websites. You can also ask: How many of their students were accepted to their dream schools? What do former clients have to say about working with them? 

In the end, you'll know an admissions counselor is a good fit if they make you feel comfortable and challenge you to present your best self to colleges.