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What to Look for in a College Admissions Consultant?

What does a college admissions consultant do?

A college admissions consultant is an indispensable resource in today’s highly-competitive, unpredictable college admissions process. There are many reasons to hire a college admissions consultant, including:

  1. Helping students and families understand what they need to do to prepare for admission to highly-ranked colleges and universities. Whether you are thinking about Ivy League or top-100 colleges, the world of college admissions has become quite complex. What colleges expect in terms of extracurricular accomplishments, college resumes, GPAs and standardized test scores has changed considerably, and most students need direction on what colleges are expecting in a successful applicant.
  2. Understanding which colleges are the right fit for your child, socially, academically and whether or not your child has a chance of admission given you child’s grades and SAT or ACT scores.
  3. Motivating students to achieve the best of their abilities. There are so many demands on teens these days and helping high school students understand how they should be using their time and which activities they should focus on often requires that a third-party step in since parents often don’t know how to advise their children. Most parents have a very “outdated play book” since what it takes to get into college has changed so dramatically in the past decade.
  4. Providing a buffer, in some cases, between the student and their parents. The college admissions process is a heated, stressful topic and a good college consultant will also help to manage family dynamics so that the student will be informed of and supported in what they should be doing to help achieve their college admission goals.
  5. Decreasing stress—when there is more clarity on what a student and their family should be doing to prepare for and apply to college, it becomes less stressful. Having someone to answer all of your questions, throughout high school and to help your student get through the challenging college application and essay process is priceless.

What qualities does a good college admissions consultant have?

There are many important qualities that a college admissions consultant should have. Ask the following questions as you consider potential admissions consultants:

  1. Do you and your child like the counselor? Are they engaging and will you like working with them? A good personality fit is important.
  2. How up to date is the consultant with college admissions and the college application process? Does their firm provide deep analysis of the college admissions landscape or are they just a former admissions officer with an outdated understanding of today’s college admissions practices? Most college admissions consulting firms just connect you with former admissions professionals, but they don’t have a research team to keep everyone up to date on all college admissions trends.
  3. What college admission counseling services are included in what the college admissions consultant offers? There is such a drastic range from firm to firm and consultant to consultant. Ask them how they will help your student improve their resume for the college admissions process and what does that involve? Will they help your child develop an academic area of interest and will they help your child develop leadership skills? Do they help you to create a college list and decide where to apply early? Do they help with developing a strategy to help the student stand out and do they help with every detail of the college application and college essay process?

What do college consulting packages include?

College consulting packages can vary dramatically in what they actually provide. First off, beware of flat rate packages, as there is no incentive for the college counselor to meet all of your college counseling needs and flat rate, of course, does not mean unlimited guidance. Rather, hourly-based packages provide the flexibility to use your time how you’d like it to be used and provide the flexibility to make sure your college counseling needs are being met. Some of the services that consulting packages may or may not include are:

  1. Developing a strategy for how a student will spend their remaining time in high school to build their resume through extracurricular activities.
  2. Helping students determine summer plans and obtain internships and other important experiences.
  3. Academic planning throughout high school to make sure their transcript is as strong as possible.
  4. Building a college list, developing a college visit strategy, and determining where to apply early (which can make or break whether a student gets admitted).
  5. Developing a plan for standardized test taking and the timing and tests to take.
  6. Helping students to brainstorm, outline and improve upon their college essays and application materials. Students applying to top schools may have as many as 30 to 40 essays and will need detailed support during the entirety of this process.

How to Choose a College Admissions Consultant?

Finding the right college advisor is a tremendous decision and can change the course of your child’s college selection, academic interests and how well they do in high school. Also, a good college admissions consultant will help motivate students to perform their best and expose them to activities and experiences they wouldn’t have done on their own, thereby enhancing their personal growth.

To find the right college admissions counselor for your child, read more here.

How much do college admissions counselors cost?

There is such a wide range of what a college admissions counselor costs based upon the services included and the sophistication and experience of the admissions      counseling firm. College consultants who are good are usually in high demand, charge a lot and know what they are doing. Given the high cost of college and how important your child’s future is, a good college consultant is often a priceless investment. As mentioned previously, beware of flat rate packages, as there will often be less service and less advice offered than hourly-based packages.

Also, please be aware that there are two key stages of the process and whether or not the college consultant helps with these areas will affect the price and the value you receive from the college admissions consultant:

  1. College preparation during high school—helping students to develop a narrative, including extracurricular activity development, academic preparation, course planning, summer planning, developing an academic area of interest, helping students to stand out, developing communication and leadership skills
  2. College application and college essay process—determining an appropriate college list, determining a standardized test preparation strategy, planning college visits, assisting with brainstorming, outlining and editing all drafts of college essays and application materials, helping prepare for college interviews, assisting with a college recommendation letter strategy, and assenting with demonstrating interest to colleges

The cost of a college consultant will depend on how in-depth a consultant will help with each of the areas outlined above and how skilled they are in being able to support each of these areas.

Spark Admissions College Consulting

To get help with all aspects of the college preparation and college application and essay process, please schedule time with one of our college consultants. Spark Admissions has both the best reviews and highest rating as well as the best college admissions success rate  in the country.

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