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

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

  • pdwm56pdwm56 47 replies5 threads Junior Member
    We used a very private consultant for our elder daughter and it was a very helpful. This lovely woman works as a college counselor for a catholic girls high school during the school year and in the summer does consulting. She is very affordable (she charged us $100 for a two hour consult plus follow up emails). She was able to direct our daughter to the schools that would offer merit aid and how much aid would be offered ($100K from each of the 5 schools she applied to). I've heard from other parents in our area that most consultants are quite expensive ($1250 or more). Our daughter chose an out of state school that offered her a generous scholarship but after a year she transferred to the UW where she is not only much happier, academically challenged, has a highly sought after internship and is writing for two news outlets.
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  • windypoplarswindypoplars 24 replies10 threads Junior Member
    edited April 2017
    "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?"

    We went the DIY route. I asked some older moms who had great kids that landed good scholarships at good schools for guidance. They told me they read the book "Admission Matters." For someone who was clueless about the current college landscape when the time drew close for our kid to apply, "Admission Matters" was a helpful crash course. It helped demystify the process. I didn't rely entirely on it, of course, but it did cover a lot from how to select colleges to how to apply to how to navigate financial aid. I made sure to get the latest edition because things change from year to year. We ended up with good results for our kids.
    edited April 2017
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  • jym626jym626 56272 replies2936 threads Senior Member
    edited April 2017
    @collegemomjam - there was a blatant ad in the post above my comment in #234 that is now gone. You apparently missed it and therefore misinterpreted my comment, responding with your retort. @lookingforward saw the blatant ad (complete with email address/link to their website) and her response indicates so. Advertising is not allowed on cc. Given the blatant tr0lling for clients that the advertiser was doing, my post was extremely polite! And it wasnt to you. I was returning to topic and responding to your neuroscience comment.
    edited April 2017
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  • collegemomjamcollegemomjam 1926 replies1 threads Senior Member
    @jym626 thanks, yes I apparently missed the post that was deleted! Now it all makes sense!!! Thanks for clarifying.
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  • AS2017AS2017 4 replies0 threads New Member
    @dragonmom3 What did your kids think about UCB and Vanderbilt? Mine needs to chose between the two.
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  • dragonmom3dragonmom3 407 replies14 threads Member
    @AS2017 Money aside, Vandy wins hands down.
    Campus, surrounding city, class size, career services, balance of work and fun......
    Our experience is that UCB for undergrad is vastly over-rated.
    Many people disagree, but a good number of those have never even set foot on the campus....
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  • collegemomjamcollegemomjam 1926 replies1 threads Senior Member
    @AS2017 I don't know much about either school, but isn't one pretty liberal and the other pretty conservative? They both have fabulous reputations and so much to offer, but it might come down to "fit". Academically, I don't think you could go wrong with either one.
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  • sushirittosushiritto 4556 replies17 threads Senior Member
    edited April 2017
    I'm not a Cal alumnus, but many of my friends and relatives are. All loved it. One of them is currently a sophomore and loves it as well. He plays a D1 sport and we're on the campus all the time during his season. And we have dinner out after his games. World class restaurants. I also have another relative who graduated Columbia and lived in NY for many years, but bought a home and moved his family to Berkeley. His wife, a native NY'er, love Berkeley. A wonderful campus built in to the hills, but not without its faults.

    I have not been to Vandy, but hear it's wonderful too. Being from CA, the whole Southern feel might be a turnoff for some as I understand it.
    edited April 2017
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  • lalalander111lalalander111 82 replies9 threads Junior Member
    Vanderbilt may be "less liberal" but is certainly not conservative.
    Maybe a little more civilized, though.
    Milo spoke on campus, for example, to and there was no blood or tear gas-just a few chanting protesters.
    My niece claims there were plenty of tears on election night, and conservatives in general lay low.
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  • dragonmom3dragonmom3 407 replies14 threads Member
    edited April 2017
    For my kids, the change in perspective they gained from the out of region experience was well worth any initial discomfort-weather as well as culture related.
    Most kids and families tend to stick with the familiar.
    It really depends on the individual.
    edited April 2017
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  • hs2015momhs2015mom 622 replies54 threads Member
    We hired someone to work with my D on her common app essay, and paid about $1000. When we finally saw the essay – parents weren’t allowed to until the student and consultant thought it was done – it was clear that the help had been worth it. The essay passed the backpack test (if someone found a backpack on the street with this essay in it and no name attached, would they know who wrote it) in spades; I don’t think another kid on the planet could have written it, it was so specific to her. Some magic was worked in helping my D to summon those thoughts and connections and get them on paper.
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  • collegemomjamcollegemomjam 1926 replies1 threads Senior Member
    @hs2015 that sounds great. I think some essay people are fabulous, for exactly the reasons you mention. But some are not...I know of one girl that hired an essay person that cost about $300 per hour and the parents were NOT happy because the essay didn't sound like her at the end. And, not sure if this is a coincidence or not, but she changed her essay mid-application cycle and did better with the old essay than the new (as best as we could compare apples to apples). So definitely do your research and ask around. Save the name of your essay person because he/she sounds wonderful.

    Just to give more details, the essay was on why she wanted to be a biomedical engineering major. The new essay was just very dry and had too much "science" in it. So it was probably well thought out and logical, but it just wasn't interesting. The first essay was much more personal and less technical, for what it's worth.
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  • sbjdorlosbjdorlo 4896 replies388 threads Senior Member
    Ha-ha, I worked with a PhD candidate this year whose essays were "too dry", and I tried to get him to loosen up a bit. His revision had a bit more personality it in, but was definitely still his voice. :-)
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  • bma1212bma1212 2 replies0 threads New Member
    We did not use a counselor because S was at a private school that worked with him on his common app essay, which was frankly really good. However, in retrospect, I think he would have done better if he had had more feedback on his school specific essays and on how to make them sound appealing to each school.

    He got into those schools that only used the common app as well as U Chicago which had a quirky essay he enjoyed but was rejected at HYP and a couple of less prestigious schools that had very specific "why do you want to come here" essays.

    For D, I plan to hire someone specifically to help with this.
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  • HarvardinaHarvardina 4 replies0 threads New Member
    Does anyone know where's a good place to look for *reputable* private admissions consultants? My daughter is a rising senior this summer, and we're starting the application process (she's very focused on going to an Ivy League school).

    Not sure if we'll go the private admissions coach route, but I wouldn't mind talking to a few people just to see, but I hate the idea of just randomly googling for someone!
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  • collegemomjamcollegemomjam 1926 replies1 threads Senior Member
    I would ask around your community for some personal referrals from people that have had the success you are looking for. And I'm sure you already know how crazy competitive Ivy league admissions can be. If your daughter has any Ivy legacy, I would strongly consider using that. But if it's Harvard (guessing this based on your name?), that may not be as good as legacy at Penn or Cornell. But I'm sure you knew all of this already.

    If your daughter is "hookless" it's going to be that much more difficult. I hate to sound negative, but as a counselor I get worried when I think an applicant has his/her heart set on an Ivy or the like. They deny so many qualified applicants each year. And if you are from the northeast or another area where there are tons of strong applicants, it gets even harder.

    Good luck!
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  • HarvardinaHarvardina 4 replies0 threads New Member
    Thanks, she actually does have Harvard legacy, as my husband is a graduate. I'm afraid to "ask around our community" though for a consultant referral, as both my daughter and husband think it's a bad idea to broadcast that we're seeking this kind of help. Also, collegemomjam, are you saying that legacy doesn't help much at Harvard, but only at the other Ivies?
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  • HarvardinaHarvardina 4 replies0 threads New Member
    ...also, if I posted some of the consultants I googled can anyone tell me if they've used them (or would that be against the forum rules?).
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  • collegemomjamcollegemomjam 1926 replies1 threads Senior Member
    @Harvardina well, it's Harvard. It probably still helps, but you don't hear as much about Harvard legacy being helpful as you do at some of the others. Unless there are major changes next year, if your daughter seriously wants an Ivy, she probably will need to pick ONE and do ED or SCEA. Not that she cannot get in RD (my daughter ended up getting in to Dartmouth RD this year which surprised us), but you increase your chances of acceptance by letting your top choice know they are your top choice...but it is still no guarantee, of course. And the magnitude of the "advantage" of applying SCEA or ED is debatable and varies by college.

    You might want to spend some time on the Harvard threads to get a feel for how much legacy seems to help there. There may even be some Harvard "experts" out there that can give you a better answer. Maybe you can private message some of them.

    In the meantime, have your daughter visit the schools and take notes on what she likes about them so that she can demonstrate a genuine interest and connection in her "why x college" essays. Maybe have her sit in on some classes and connect with some professors and students in her academic subject areas of interest. These top schools are looking for students that really want to go there for all of the right reasons and the better you can convince them of your genuine interest and ability to contribute to their campus (whether it be academically or in an extra-curricular area), the better your chances of admission.

    I don't know if paying top dollar for an expensive Ivy-esque counselor will help or not and don't know of any. I know plenty of kids that have gotten in to Ivies and many of them have some kind of hook, but not all. Good luck!!!
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  • keiekeikeiekei 132 replies2 threads Junior Member
    Pretty sure legacy is helpful at all the top schools besides MIT and CalTech. Certainly the Harvard Crimson takes it for granted that legacy helps at H, arguing that legacy preferences should be ended and citing a paper that estimates legacies at top colleges have more than 3x the chance to get in compared with other applicants with similar qualifications (this latter point is critical).
    http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2015/5/28/staff-losing-legacy-admissions/
    There is a lot of handwaving by admissions offices to pretend preferences don't exist. For example, a couple years ago Yale bragged that its legacies had SAT averages only a couple points below the class average. This is laughable when you consider how much whiter and higher SES the legacies are compared to the class average. The proper comparison would be against applicants of the same race and SES. Non-legacies would need higher qualifications, but Yale won't admit this.
    As admit rates have fallen for all applicants, so they have for legacies. Whereas legacy admit rate at H might have been 40% in 2001, maybe it's 15-17% now, vs 5% overall rate. Legacies, for a variety of reasons, likely have better qualifications than the average applicant, but the abovementioned study (and others like it, mentioned in the study itself) adjusts for qualifications and still finds the 3x legacy advantage. In the real world what I think this means is, if an unhooked H admittee has to basically walk on water, the legacy admittee gets a bit of a break—maybe test scores are great and grades are great, but the ECs are not quite as strong. Or maybe ECs are strong and grades a little weak. You still have to be in the top 15% among a strong crowd.
    Another thing I would look at is if the legacy school provides any kind of special interview with admissions. I know Williams does this for legacies. Not sure if Harvard does.
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