Why Hire a College Counselor?

There Are Too Many Choices

Did you know that there are more than 3,500 colleges and universities in the United States alone? That’s a lot of schools and programs to choose from! On top of that, each college has different application requirements and deadlines. An independent counselor can help you narrow down the list and focus your research on colleges of best fit, whether it’s by a certain major, geographic region, athletics program, social culture or all of the above.

Colleges Are Becoming Increasingly Selective

The average admission rate for all four-year colleges has decreased to 63%, and there are nearly 100 highly selective programs that admit fewer than 30% of applicants. It is easy for students (and parents) to get swept up in the competition. A private college counselor can help you create a reasonable list of appropriate schools to apply to across a few different levels of selectivity.

College is an Expensive Investment

Most families save for years to pay for their child’s college education. According to The College Board, the average public university now costs close to $25,000 per year (tuition, fees, room & board) while the average private university education tops $40,000 annually. Increases in college tuition have outpaced growth in median family income over the last several decades. Student debt stands at $1.3 trillion dollars... You get the idea. An independent college counselor can help you research and evaluate financial fit and provide resources for your scholarship search.

However, not only is tuition expensive, but a typical application will cost $50 or more. Many families spend upwards of $1000 on application fees, standardized testing and college visits. Why not consult with someone who can help you make the best financial decision for your family throughout the application process and beyond?

School Counselors Are Overwhelmed

Unfortunately, your high school’s college counselor may not have the time to work with you on a regular basis throughout your high school career. The national average student to counselor ratio stands at 491:1 according to the American School Counselor Association, while the ratio is 502:1 in Washington State. Furthermore, an average of only 23% of a counselor’s time is spent on college counseling, meaning even less support for college-bound students. Independent counselors can fill in the gaps and work in tandem with your high school’s counselor throughout the process.

What to Look For in a Counselor

A private college counselor will be able to provide customized, one-on-one assistance for students and families throughout the process, whether it’s starting freshman year or during the chaotic application season only. When choosing a counselor, it is important to find someone with real admissions and advising experience! Many counselors claim that they are qualified after helping their child apply to college, but they have never read applications, interviewed students, or advised families on programs of best fit.

Be sure to do your research, as there is a lot of variation in qualifications out there. Be wary of any counselor who asks you to pay exorbitant fees upfront, who guarantees admission to certain programs, or who promises to write essays for students. I recommend consulting the IECA or HECA databases to find experienced, ethical counselors.

I am a member of several professional associations and regularly participate in admissions and advising-related professional development. I'm committed to staying current on admissions trends in order to best serve students and families. And I regularly visit college campuses throughout the nation because nothing can replace the campus visit experience!

Want to read more? Check out these excellent resources for higher education research and admissions trends: