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Hiring a College Advisor?

chicaintheusachicaintheusa Registered User Posts: 10 New Member
I'm hoping to hear from parents who hired college advisors and if you found the process worthwhile, financially.

I have 2 HS students '20 and '21. Both are average students (awesome people!) and neither cares about attending a Top Tier college. '20 has her mind made up for area of studies, which will limit things to only a handful, none with overly challenging admissions. I'm unsure if there's another angle she should be considering, such a sub-category we've overlooked. '21 is young still, of course, but will likely need some direction with what he wants, with both area of studies and type of college. He's fairly stubborn and I hope to avoid headbutting with him during this process.

I called the local college advisor and costs will range $1700-3000 depending on what services we need- I assume career assessments, college search, FAFSA help, essay help, etc. There is a sibling discount, but I couldn't get the details on the phone... I don't have that type of money to waste, but if it's worth not transferring to another school later on (potentially losing $ credits) or saves our sanity, it seems worthwhile.

Thoughts please? I already called and got the phone spiel from the company. First meeting is $175 (long sales pitch perhaps) which is applied to services. They'd start assisting '20 D early next year.

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Replies to: Hiring a College Advisor?

  • pkchamp89pkchamp89 Registered User Posts: 469 Member
    edited October 8
    @chicaintheusa We did hire an advisor for my first child attending college. I found that the most value we received was with the essay editing and the review of his common app prior to submitting it. In addition, it was nice to have someone to bounce any questions off especially since he was our first going through the college process. I did do a ton of research and reading on my own regarding the entire college process. I really tried to educate myself. The service offered my S a potential college match list which I didn't necessary agree with and we decided to apply to schools we researched instead. As much as they try to get to know your child through interviewing or on their stats, they just don't know them like you do.

    We are now going through the process with my second S two years after our first. We didn't feel the need to hire a counselor this time. My suggestion is if you can swing it maybe do it for the first but wait until you go through the college process once before commiting to their services for the second. You may not need it. There were so many unknowns the first time around and I know we were nervous and didn't want to make any mistakes. There is so much available info out there today that it really isn't necessary to hire an expensive counselor. Not sure I would do it the same way again if I had to go back. But... do what makes your family feel the most comfortable. Good luck!
  • chicaintheusachicaintheusa Registered User Posts: 10 New Member
    Thank you @pkchamp89. That was helpful.
    From what you're saying, I can completely understand. I've research ad nauseum, but doing this the first time, it's so hard to tell what I might've missed. I feel very well informed, but don't want to fool myself.
  • jym626jym626 Registered User Posts: 52,137 Senior Member
    You might search the forum- there are many threads on this issue.
  • TestingearlyTestingearly Registered User Posts: 326 Member
    @chicaintheusa - If you have researched ad nauseam, then I reccomend you only hire someone to help with the essays and common app. Look for someone who will brainstorm essay ideas with your kids. Good luck!
  • AroundHereAroundHere Registered User Posts: 2,438 Senior Member
    We took our money and spent it on college visit trips. And, I borrowed free advice when advisers held information nights at local libraries.

    I can definitely see where a little time with someone who really knows what they are doing and sees child after child year after year could be useful, if it's someone that your child gets along with and will listen to and trust. But we're not quite rich enough for a couple extra grand not to hurt, and college trips and saving the money for tuition were just more important for us.

    Avoid the ones that try to mold a kid into the perfect applicant starting in 7th grade.
  • chicaintheusachicaintheusa Registered User Posts: 10 New Member
    @AroundHere It's a financial trade off with college visits that I have thought about. The likely places D '20 will apply are ~6 hrs away in multiple directions. I should mock up college visit budget info.
  • wis75wis75 Registered User Posts: 12,361 Senior Member
    It does not sound worth the money you could use in other ways. Your "average" kids (likely above since they are eventually college bound) can go to numerous colleges that will fit their needs. Save your money for the actual colleges. There is absolutely nothing wrong with instate public options for most college students. Your evaluation of your kids means those schools they currently like will cost you a lot of money as they are unlikely to get scholarships.

    They will need to visit those colleges on the radar when they are HS juniors. That is a better use of funds than a stranger taking your money to do what can be done for free. Your kids will change a lot from this fall to the time they actually college hunt and apply. So much info online and through your HS. Practice ACT and SAT tests require no funds. Essay writing skills come with HS required classes. Financial knowledge is something you can start now using free online resources.

    As a kid I would be horrified to have my free time taken up with a college search beginning at a low HS grade. Cost/benefit ratio seems terrible.

    btw- being strong willed, stubborn goes along with reaching for independence and can be a part of the teen years. Was for us. Your kids will grow into their plans for colleges. Current interests will remain or evolve as they mature. They will get into appropriate colleges without attempting to regiment the process.
  • gardenstategalgardenstategal Registered User Posts: 3,071 Senior Member
    One of the really valuable things that a good advisor can do for you his help your child figure out which schools might be good for them. Kids will often be more candid with a counselor than they will with you about what they are looking for socially, for example. Good counselors visit lots of schools and have a good network of "insiders" that tends to be broad. The other good thing that a counselor can do is connect you with previous clients who may at those schools. I agree with the others that you may be in a different position by the time you do this the second time around.

    They are also good at making sure the whole application hangs together and presents the student at his or her best. Unlike any of us, most of them have seen thousands of applications and know what stands out.

    Some let you pick and choose services; others want to do the whole process. I know of one whom I like, so PM me if you would like info. What's most important, though, is that you feel like what they are offering is what you need and that you're comfortable with them.
  • ninakatarinaninakatarina Registered User Posts: 189 Junior Member
    I'm not hiring an advisor. I have a friend who's a professional editor who I will send the essays to when the time comes, we are using Khan Academy and test prep books for the tests, and we are taking trips to many of the potential candidates, combined with various family vacations. I don't feel that a college advisor is going to give us anything I can't get on my own.

    Everyone's kid is different, so yours may benefit disproportionately from a professional advisor. If your school's guidance counselors don't strike you as organized or friendly, you may want to consider hiring someone outside of the school system to be that non-parental advocate. But my kid is very self-motivated and our guidance counselor is a wonderful woman.
  • katliamomkatliamom Registered User Posts: 11,211 Senior Member
    edited October 8
    Well, here's my experience: NOT a good one with a paid advisor! I mentor a young woman whose father, a single dad, hired a college advisor, someone "recommended" by the girl's high school. (I suspect he was just someone who offered his services, and the school passed on his name to the dad.) Mistake. The advisor gave highly dubious suggestions (example: University of Hawaii -- for a student on a budget!) did not encourage her to study for/retake her ACT (she got a 21 at her first and only sitting) did not advise she send thank you notes after visits with interviewers/adcom people she spoke to while touring schools, etc.

    It was a complete waste of money for this family.

    So I guess my recommendation is -- buyer be ware. Do some research, get opinions from past clients, and stay involved in the process.

    Wishing you luck!
  • ProfessorMom1ProfessorMom1 Registered User Posts: 147 Junior Member
    Do people actually send thank you notes by post to adcom staff?
  • katliamomkatliamom Registered User Posts: 11,211 Senior Member
    @ProfessorMom1 -- some do. In this case, not even a thank you email was recommended by the advisor. I had her do it for schools she visited fairly late in the game.
  • sbjdorlosbjdorlo Registered User Posts: 4,791 Senior Member
    They should send thank you's, at the very least, a timely follow up email.
  • calmomcalmom Registered User Posts: 18,617 Senior Member
    I'm confused.

    You wrote:
    .'20 has her mind made up for area of studies, which will limit things to only a handful, none with overly challenging admissions. I'm unsure if there's another angle she should be considering, such a sub-category we've overlooked.

    So it seems like your daughter has a narrow field of interest and is targeting schools that are not particularly difficult to get into. What do you expect from a college advisor? That "other angle?"

    There is a wealth of free advice and info on this site -- perhaps you might do better just creating a thread here first to seek out specific info.

    The problem as other posts have indicated is that "college advising" can be all over the map in terms of quality and cost.

    I notice you have a past thread indicating a significant complicating factor re financial aid (divorced parent) - and some college advisors are good on the admissions part of things but weak when it comes to understanding the ins and outs of financial aid. You don't want someone who steers your daughter toward colleges that are unaffordable.

    In another thread you also mentioned that your daughter has a history of ADHD -- so that's one other area of expertise that may be important: is the college advisor you work with familiar with disibility policies and procedures at various colleges? Does the advisor have experience working with ADHD students, and an appreciation of how that can impact their needs at college (not just for possible accommodations, but also a variety of other factors related to campus and academic environment)?

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