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My Experience with a Personal College Consultant

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Replies to: My Experience with a Personal College Consultant

  • clandarkfireclandarkfire 286 replies36 threadsRegistered User Member
    When you get into a top college, are you going to hire a writing consultant to write your papers for you? A biologist to take your biology final for you?

    I actually wasn't aware that professional services like this are even available, and to be honest, it's a bit disillusioning to me to me that they are. Social mobility is certainly diminished when poor kids have to compete against professional college applicants for admission to selective colleges. And I have trouble believing that you will be able to take care of yourself next year if you weren't capable of filling in your social security number and date of birth on the Common Application by yourself.

    OP, I'm not saying you did anything inherently wrong - you just took advantage of a service that was available to you - but the very existence of that service seems anything but fair, to me at least.
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  • amghspaamghspa 93 replies18 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    I don't understand why some of you are giving OP a hard time. It worked for him. Some people do their own taxes, some hire CPAs. This is a competitive world. Every body is trying to make sure that they package themselves using whatever resources they can get hold of.

    Having said that - I have a mixed opinion of CCs. Most if not all of them overburden themselves with too many clients and do not provide the service that they promised in the first place. We spoke to many people in my area who had hired a CC. Not a single person was completely satisfied with their CC. Well - actually we did find one - who a number of people were happy with. But she charges - $400/hr !!!

    I think the primary value is the emotional hand holding they provide. You can decide the colleges based on input from parents, school Counselor, naviance, USNews. You can get essay feedback from friends, parents, english teacher etc. But the mediating between parent and student during a time of great stress - can be priceless.
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  • crazedcrazed 1884 replies90 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    amghspa-

    Glad you got advice for your counselor. Guess when you are paying all the $$ they should fill out the app!!

    That said, if your parents are not familiar with the process, or colleges which may be good for you, you are a lucky kid that they hired a professional to help you out.

    Good luck!!
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  • MidwestmomofboysMidwestmomofboys 4012 replies27 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Just add some additional comments, from a parent's perspective.

    Very late in the game -- after Thanksgiving of senior year, my son met with an independent college advisor who charges by the hour. Up until then, I had been the administrative assistant, reminding him about deadlines, testing prep etc. I had also been the one going on college visits. By late fall, we could barely speak to each other about college because the tension between us was so high. I knew I had to get myself (and my ego) out of the process. Big source of conflict was his interest in big state schools, which I was convinced was wrong place for him, and my conviction that he was an lac kid.

    Husband took him to a one hour session. Husband reported that advisor said we had done a good job getting son to where he was, but he wished he could have gotten involved about at least 6 months if not a year earlier. He would have recommended additional rounds of standardized testing as well as much broader swath of public schools.

    Advisor changed my son's perspective entirely by assuring him that he was a strong candidate at a number of schools he had not considered. Told him he had been aiming too low and should look more broadly. Son came home from that session, applied to Minnesota, Illinois and Wisconsin and added his super reach, Michigan, to common app. We visited Wisconsin before winter break and son fell in love. Realized that he had been looking too narrowly. All of that helped push him through fall exams for a good strong finish to the semester. Was admitted to Minnesota, Illinois and just a week ago, his first choice, Wisconsin. Deferred at Michigan.

    Without that single session, we would still be fighting the same fight about big vs. small, rather than celebrating his admission to his first choice school.
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  • MindySueMindySue 139 replies3 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    We hired a consultant at an hourly rate just because my son was going to be a music major, and changed his mind in September! We had to scramble to find colleges for his new major, chemistry! She was very helpful and made suggestions on his essay. My older son, in college, never needed the services.
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  • lucy2010lucy2010 5 replies0 threadsRegistered User New Member
    Is so great to be able to afford a consultant, my son applied to 14 universities and did it all by himself and now in the process of financial aid, trying to make sure not to miss a dead line or anything, he's being acepted in 2 reach schools(He applied regular decision to all of them) and waiting for the rest, What i'm trying to say is, that if your good you won't have any problems whats or ever, but if you have the money for the extra help it is worth doing it because you will definetly have less streess.
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  • lacrossemomlacrossemom 626 replies4 threadsRegistered User Member
    I applaud the OP ant family. They did what was best for them. 6k sounds like a lot, however if it gets the OP in the college that everyone is pleased with, that ultimately is the goal. This college journey is now a $120k to $200k investment. I think it is great that some sneiors do everything themselves, however if you do not have the time and you have the money I think it makes a ton of sense to spend the money.

    For my DS last year, (we) applied to 15 schools. I did the applications, organized deadlines, took care of financial aspects, etc. My DS focused on the essay. It was a wonderful experience for us. He had a blast senior year in three sports and balancing 4 AP classes. I knew he was super busy as a senior and I knew it was a choice between doing it myself or hiring someone. What I enjoyed the most was letting him make the decisions. I presented him options and learned to listen to his questions and comments. He weighed all of the options and made a perfect decision.

    I am now gearing up for my DD. She watched what happened last year and I know I will do a similar routine.

    I wouldn't trade it for the world. For all of my friends that said I should have let my DS do more I explain my side. I frankly don't care if they think my DS should have done more because it was right for him at that time. This year he has done 18 hours each semester while balancing multiple organizations. I don't see how filling out college applications would have hindered his ability to become independent.

    Again I applaud the OP for realizing what was important in the application process for their situation.

    Good luck at school!
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  • ClassicRockerDadClassicRockerDad 6202 replies163 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I can see the benefit of using a college counselor for certain family dynamics.

    In our house, I learned all I needed to learn on this board, from a few good books, and carefully researching schools. I don't agree with a lot of what's in the college admissions books in the sense that I believe that looking ahead to college should have no role in choosing ECs. Work hard in school, but do what you like with your free time and learn how to be happy. Experiment!

    I did spend a lot of time on getting myself educated about the process, and though it was a labor of love - LOL, my own EC if you will. I can see the value in paying someone to do that if hunting down information and keeping it straight isn't your thing.

    For D1, the one thing I couldn't have predicted in advance was the extent to which selecting and choosing schools to apply to and attend forced her to examine herself critically and she was able to carefully figure out what was important to her. I'm not sure that a counselor could have helped her with that any better than myself, a parent who played devil's advocate but left the ultimate decision to her.

    I see the same thing starting to happen with D2. It's an exciting and dare I say sometimes entertaining, sometimes frustrating process that will have a good outcome by definition.

    The ultimate goal is educated person not necessarily the school doing the educating.
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  • HannaHanna 14866 replies42 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    No one's ever asked me to do data entry for them. I suppose if a family wanted to pay me my hourly rate to type the student's words into the common app, I would do it. It's sort of like paying a chef to pour milk on your cereal, but if you can afford it, why not? I don't think this is a very common request, though.
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  • DougBetsyDougBetsy 5578 replies252 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    To me, hiring a college consultant is no different than hiring for any other "family work." Cleaning lady. Yard guy. Painter. H&R Block. Sure, any one of those things can be a DIY. But, if you want to hire someone, why not? Outsourcing does not equal rip off or parental/student incompetence. Now that I think about it, in some cases, a CC may be the ounce of prevention that beats a pound of cure.

    Thanks for your insight, OP. Good luck to you.

    (For the record, we didn't hire one.)
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  • TreehousemomTreehousemom 13 replies6 threadsRegistered User New Member
    Since we have very little money, and since I'm unemployed, I decided to "hire" myself as a consultant. I have only one child, so this is my first and only foray into the world of college admissions.
    I educated myself: internet sites, books. I came up with lists of possible schools based on my daughter's interests and our financial scenario. I made and maintained spreadsheets of schools, with info on stuff that counted for us: financial aid, diversity, size of school, ranking of school, location and cost of airfare. This list changed a lot during the months of finalizing my daughter's school choices.
    I also helped with deadlines, filled out the mundane parts of the common app, and the endless financial aid applications. My daughter, who applied to twelve schools, wrote great essays and worked like crazy to maintain her school grades and work at her part-time job.
    There was some conflict, but once I understood how to keep out of her business, the process worked well.
    I know two families who paid lots for their college consultants. One said that theirs was useless. The other family's consultant kept coming up with some pretty ridiculous lists of colleges to consider, but was somewhat helpful.
    It worked for our family for me to be the consultant and secretary. Now, with all of this knowledge, I'm going to volunteer for a local program that helps low-income high school seniors apply to college. It would be a shame to let my new expertise go to waste.
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  • ohiobassmomohiobassmom 1384 replies17 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Now, with all of this knowledge, I'm going to volunteer for a local program that helps low-income high school seniors apply to college. It would be a shame to let my new expertise go to waste.

    Fantastic idea.
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  • Bookworm934Bookworm934 286 replies42 threadsRegistered User Member
    "Next came the application project. She and her team filled out my common app so that it was perfect. She proofed every applications and helped/advised/proofed on dozens of essays. They kept track of deadlines and made sure that everything was done on time and that my school, as well as the college had everything they needed and that is was all flawless."

    Good god, if only I had the money.
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  • collegealum314collegealum314 6683 replies85 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    You probably can get knowledgeable people to review your essays and give you advice for free on this forum.
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  • ldavisldavis 565 replies107 threadsRegistered User Member
    Great info, thanks. We have many Consultants in my area, and many students use them.
    I guess it really does depend on each individual situation. If a student has a couple schools he is very interested in and a major in mind, Consultant is probably not necessary.
    But to some the whole process is so overwhelming.
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  • ldavisldavis 565 replies107 threadsRegistered User Member
    bump for mycollegekids...
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  • BluePoodleBluePoodle 175 replies14 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Great thread! I do college consulting for local homeschool families. In addition to all that is necessary in finding the right college, applying and paying for it once accepted...we have to develop the transcripts, be a school guidance counselor and fill out "school forms" etc. After over 2 years of research I have to agree that it is great to pass this knowledge on to others so that not everyone has to reinvent the wheel!
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  • laplatinumlaplatinum 520 replies9 threadsRegistered User Member
    I hired a "college counselor" (a lot cheaper than someone who calls herself "consultant") for one of my older children and have, over the years, recommended her to dozens of parents. Her fees amounted to only a few hundred dollars by the end game, so it seems that this has become quite a racket. This year, instead of hiring the counselor, I served as my son's "administrative assistant" (organizing materials, etc.) and we had a full time CC at his high school whose sole job it is to serve as one. She was the one who provided the students with deadlines, workshops, essay feedback (along with her team), and so on. We therefore saved thousands of $$$. I think you have to look at your immediate resources first before you decide to invest a lot of coin in private consultants who may promise you the world. Even schools with economically challenged students report to me that there are a variety of free services these days that can help students.
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  • laplatinumlaplatinum 520 replies9 threadsRegistered User Member
    I think TreeHouseMom and I should start our own "College Consulting" firm and charge thousands of dollars to "fill in the Common App" for students and their parents. I agree, it's like hiring a housekeeper or a gardener--and maybe, just maybe we'd make enough to pay my son and her daughter's tuition. ;)
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