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Have you used a private admission consultant, if so what is your experience?

jzducoljzducol Registered User Posts: 65 Junior Member
I know this topic was probably covered from time to time. But it seems the landscape of admission changes every year and so do the fees. My D is a junior and we are debating about getting her a consultant. I would like to know for applying to top ten schools have you retained a private admission consultant and how much do they cost nowadays?
My thinking is that for public schools seniors counselors do not really offer much of advise or assistance. For parents and kids there is probably no way to figure out how their application stacks up with others who are also super competitive for top colleges. And I don't think it would be wise to post a whole application for certain school on CC to get feedback and input. DIY can achieve a lot and there seems to be consensus on CC that DIY is preferred over hiring private consultants, but how do you actually get honest assessment and good advice without consultants?
If you hired consultants did they make a difference and how much did you spend?
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Replies to: Have you used a private admission consultant, if so what is your experience?

  • boudersbouders Registered User Posts: 1,686 Senior Member
    I'm interested in seeing what others have to say. After D16's disappointing experience last year, due to zero support from her out of country public school, we hired an admissions consultant for S14's law school applications.
  • 3puppies3puppies Registered User Posts: 871 Member
    OP, What part of the country do you live in?
  • jzducoljzducol Registered User Posts: 65 Junior Member
    We live in Ca. I know that CC can give brutally honesty opinion on any profile. But the thing is everyone applying to top ten would have perfect stats. The intangibles like essays can not be posted on CC anyway, and they are probably what distinguishes a successful applicant from others.
    So, I am very interested to know if there are CC parents out there who feel they kids would not have been successful in admission process had it not been the private counselor's help.
  • Jliu32472Jliu32472 Registered User Posts: 71 Junior Member
    We didn't get a private counselor for my daughter. The prices (over 10k) were just plain silly for the services they provide. We did get her a tutor for her essays.
    I had the time so I helped my daughter instead.
  • LindagafLindagaf Registered User Posts: 6,193 Senior Member
    Google one of the companies I suggested and ask for a customer reference.

    And yes, mostly everyone at a top ten school will have stellar stats, which is why it isn't just about stellar stats. It's about the person and what they have achieved.
  • 3puppies3puppies Registered User Posts: 871 Member
    And of course, they will advise you in CA to have moved to Montana back in 6th grade, or some other underrepresented geographic area. They will advise you to have changed your child's name and ethnicity if you are not an URM. They will advise you to have cured cancer while volunteering at an orphanage in the offseason from your Olympic events. /sarcasm

    I spoke with a lot of admissions counselors from all of the elite schools - as we were chasing need-based financial aid. I routinely asked in the information sessions - if others had not asked it - about students coming from public schools vs. private schools. Even though the vast majority of HS students attend public schools, the elite schools have a higher than proportional distribution coming from private schools. And this is expected since they tend to have parents from higher SES, who can afford HS tuition, etc. So I would typically ask if the HS guidance counselor at our public HS does not have a close relationship with the student, is their application looked down on? The elite schools understand the different roles of private vs. public HS guidance counselors, and they do not penalize the students for this at all.

    Student are encouraged to complete the application themselves - and the admissions officers can often tell what it a 17-18 year old student's voice vs. a more polished application that has been tweaked dozens of times by consultants/grown ups.

    I don't look down on the consultants who provide a meaningful service to some families - I have a friend who does this as part of her test prep business (I was surprised to learn she opened this business 10+ years ago, and my pups might have benefitted from it had they known, but they did it all on their own). For many families, the stress of nagging a teenager to stay on deadlines, etc. is not worth the hassle and strain on a parent-child relationship, especially when they can pay someone to help plan, and remind the student of important milestones along the way. I am sometimes amazed that folks have the money to do this, and would choose to spend it this way, but to each his/her own.

    My DH once told DD that in order to get into these great schools, you have to be smart enough to figure this out for yourself. A lot of luck is needed to overcome the fact that we don't have the hooks of 1st gen, nor URM, nor legacy, nor athletic recruit, nor are we able to donate a couple hundred million...

  • jzducoljzducol Registered User Posts: 65 Junior Member
    I imagine if a kid needs parents nagging to apply to colleges, he or she would not have accomplished a profile good enough for top ten colleges.
    It seems there is a lack of stories here among CC parents who have spent $10k or more for this specific purpose---to help them separate their kids from the rest in the application pool. I speculate that for top ten schools, its much like competing sports at elite level, every little edge counts. Are there good or bad outcomes to share here?
  • thumper1thumper1 Registered User Posts: 61,371 Senior Member
    I do know folks who used private consultants to help kids with college search, selection and application to top schools.

    BUT they didn't start at the end of 11th grade. To be honest. That's sort of late. What do you want this oersonnto do for you? It's a little late to help you with things like course selection, ECs, and the like. It's alsmoat too late to make suggestions for schools to visit. And it's certainly too late to change course selections to meet requirements for some colleges.

    You may find that some of these college consultants already have a full load of kids who will be seniors next year...

    But if you want someone, I'm sure you can find someone.

    Fact is,mhowever, your consultant will advise you on choices based on what your kid has to offer on their application. If anyone promises you they can get your kid into a top ten school...I would not work be suspicious of that claim.

    And you knew someone would ask...is your kid ONLY applying to top ten schools?
  • eiholieiholi Registered User Posts: 312 Member
    edited March 24
    I know some students who went to top ten schools without using private counselors. I feel if they used one they could be at a top three school. It must be helpful to let someone look at your application if that person is a former top school AO who saw thousands of applications and made decisions who to admit. If my son turns out to be a candidate for a top school and there is a former top school AO around I'd pay her/him to take a look at son's application. But I'd rather see that kind of helping eliminated soon.

    The significance of essays may be exaggerated. Lots of things are likely in play and for many years before junior year to make a top school contender, if the kid is the right material at all. So, it'd be nice to have a private counselor or put the kid in expensive private schools early. But I'd rather keep the kid close and be involved.
  • suzyQ7suzyQ7 Registered User Posts: 2,845 Senior Member
    edited March 24
    Your kid needs amazing stats and a 'story'. Perhaps a consultant can help craft the story - but I think your best bet is use CC for crafting your list (safety, match, reach) and hire a testing tutor (if you need it) and an good essay reviewer.

    People that I know that have used consultants didn't think it really helped except with selection and essay review (they will NOT write it for you, though or give you a magic idea, that is up to your kid). Again, this site is far better for creating the list than than the consultant will be - if you have the time or inclination to use it. It also gives you a huge dose of reality, especially if you read the results next week on Ivy day. Please read those threads for the reality of top 10 admissions.
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