3 Tips For Choosing The Right College Admissions Consultant

Getting into college is a difficult, personal, and often expensive process. From the first standardized test to the last campus visit, it can be a long, emotional journey for students and parents alike.

Some families choose to go it alone, but doing so can lead to a lot of stress and emotional turmoil. Others decide to take some of the strain off by working with an experienced college admissions consultant.

But identifying the right admissions consultant is no walk in the park, either. It’s a little like trying to find a therapist, tutor, editor, financial advisor, and sports coach all in one.

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You need a consultant with the right skills to guide you and your child every step of the way. Here are some tips to help you figure out what to look for in a college admissions consultant.

1. Investigate Their Experience, Track Record, And Specialization

When you first set out to choose a college admissions consultant, start by reviewing all their qualifications. You’ll want to discover how long they’ve been in the field and what certifications or training they’ve completed.

You should also see whether they went to a college or university you’d be proud to send your kid to. Furthermore, you should make sure they have a deep familiarity with the current market, the character of various schools, and their admissions criteria.

Next, look at how many of their clients have successfully gotten into one of their top-choice schools. And consider whether the schools on their results list seem like the right fit for your child.

Some consultants are more specialized or have a better track record in certain areas. If you’ve got an artsy kid, for example, rethink a consultant who succeeds mainly with universities that emphasize D1 sports. If you are considering Ivy League and other top-tier institutions, you’ll need a consultant who specializes in this area.

These schools can have much more rigorous application standards, and you’ll need someone who can guide you through the process. If your child isn’t a top achiever, avoid consultants who push all students to apply to these types of schools.

2. Take Testimonials And Reputation Into Account

Once you feel reasonably sure that a consultant or firm seems like a good match, it’s time to get personal. You’ll need to have a sense of how other clients have actually felt about the experience of working with them.

This starts by reading online reviews and testimonials from other clients. If you personally know anyone who’s engaged the consultant, reach out and glean as much info as you can.

If you don’t have any connections in common, ask the firm or consultant to refer you to past clients. The consultant may be able to put you on the phone with other students or families who’ve dealt with them before. Reviews are great, but speaking with another person can give you a much deeper sense of whether it’s a good match.

Speaking of those personal connections, you might aim for a consultant with a close connection to your child’s top choice school(s). Maybe they’re an alum or have worked closely with the college or university in some other capacity.

In any case, you want a firm that’s well-connected in academia. One tip is to scour the LinkedIn profiles of advisors you’re considering and see whom they list among their contacts.

3. Research Prices And The Scope Of Services

Once you’re reasonably sure the consultant or firm is qualified, consider your budget and see what you can afford. Look also at the type and extent of services offered and whether they’re worth it for the price tag. Decide how hands-on you want the consultant to be and how much time you’re willing to invest to save cash.

For instance, some consultants offer basic assistance with choosing schools, gathering materials, and meeting deadlines. Others will help students brainstorm and thoroughly edit personal essays, offer in-depth sessions on choosing the right major, and more. Be aware of the services they don’t provide — or that you can’t afford — as you might have to take on those tasks yourself.

Another factor to consider is the level of availability a given firm or consultant provides for their fee. They may offer a certain, limited number of sessions and charge extra for anything else beyond those.

Or they might be more broadly available via text or phone whenever you or your child have questions or need advice. You’ll want to be sure you’re clear on the amount of assistance you’ll receive before signing on the dotted line.

Compatibility Is Key

At the end of the day, a huge part of choosing the right consultant comes down to interpersonal compatibility. Even someone who meets every single criterion could still be the wrong choice for your child.

To choose the best-match school, there needs to be a high level of understanding between the student, the parents, and the consultant. Communication should flow smoothly and easily, and it should rarely — if ever — seem like wires are getting crossed.

It’s especially important that your child feel fully comfortable with the consultant. To make the right choices, they need to be able to be as open as possible about what they really want. And more importantly, they need a consultant who can truly advocate for them and their decisions.

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