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College Consultants

ReelLifeReelLife 68 replies4 threads Junior Member
I know this has come up many times but all the threads on this topic appear to be closed so I'm starting a new discussion. I'm not looking for opinions on the merits of a college consultant as I have just waded through literally hundreds of people voicing their opinions that it's not worth the money despite seeming to have not had any experience utilizing the services of a consultant. A small minority advocated for the services but people who have had success using consultants seem reluctant to speak about it perhaps for fear of being perceived as utilizing some unfair or privileged advantage. And there are certainly justifications for that reluctance based on comments I read here. I am more interested in how one searches for the right person or firm. I have gone to the professional associations which provide lists of names and links to websites, but no way to assess their merits. I have had conversations with a few consultants who seemed capable. I must say the quotes for their "all in" comprehensive packages diverge wildly. The last three estimates I got where for $4,000, $9600 and $55,000. That is patently insane. I had one offer to fly to where we live in Japan at my expense and spend three days with my DD for $19,000. It's a sweet business, I guess, if you get the clients. I think an element of what they sell is guilt: "are you doing all you can for your kid?" The other unspoken sales pitch of the higher priced consultants is access. While a professional wouldn't promise to contact an admissions officer on your behalf they seem to subtly imply they could "I was just talking to the director of admissions at college x the other day." Obviously, we all want our kids to do this on their own and we also want to provide them with whatever help/advantage is ethically within our means. So, to cut to the chase, does anyone have a name they can recommend?
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Replies to: College Consultants

  • happymomof1happymomof1 30032 replies181 threads Senior Member
    @Hanna may be able to help you wade through this.
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  • thumper1thumper1 76595 replies3392 threads Senior Member
    edited July 2018
    A couple of questions...

    Are you an American citizen living abroad, or are you a citizen of Japan?

    In my opinion....the very best way to find a college consultant is by personal recommendation from someone you know...who has used a particular person.

    It’s word of mouth recommendations that really are the best.

    I believe most counselors will do an interview first before accepting your student as a client. This interview goes both ways...your kiddo needs to feel good about working with the counselor too.

    So...have others at your school, in your neighborhood, or wherever used a private college counselor? If so, ask for names.
    edited July 2018
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  • PublisherPublisher 9640 replies121 threads Senior Member
    The primary benefit of hiring a college consultant is in having someone familiar with US colleges & universities as well as your specific situation to whom you can speak in confidence. Together you determine target schools & a plan to get admitted to several schools. Application strategy & a review of the structure & content of essays is typical.
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  • ReelLifeReelLife 68 replies4 threads Junior Member
    edited July 2018
    thumper1 We are American citizens living abroad. DD is a rising senior and interested in competitive schools in the northeast. She has an excellent high school conselor and is a motivated independent student but thought she might need help to make sure she doesn't miss anything. CC is an invaluable resource and I appreciate your feedback. We did use consultants for our S - one for editing essays and one for financial matters but am looking for someone with a bit more of a comprehensive view who knows this year's trends in admissions. I don't know anyone personally who has worked with someone like that. Thanks for your comments!
    edited July 2018
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  • PublisherPublisher 9640 replies121 threads Senior Member
    edited July 2018
    Why not ask now ? You will get lots of advice for free from knowledgeable posters.
    edited July 2018
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  • SybyllaSybylla 4368 replies56 threads Senior Member
    It seems late to be looking for a consultant at this point IMO. You want someone to get her through the applications?
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  • ReelLifeReelLife 68 replies4 threads Junior Member
    @Publisher and @shawnspencer You are likely correct as this seems to be a very robust support system but I still want to explore my options. I will continue to rely on this resource whether or not I seek other help. Thanks for the feedback.
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  • collegedad13collegedad13 737 replies6 threads Member
    I think consultants help a lot. They can help the student achieve their fullest potential.
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  • ReelLifeReelLife 68 replies4 threads Junior Member
    Well then I'll go ahead and ask one question that's burning on my mind. Early Action. How to know if you want to commit? She's very interested in Swarthmore right now but that could change. Right. She's 17. So what are the pros and cons of making this choice? Since this question is tangential to my original post, perhaps I should go find an approriate location to post this question.
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  • thumper1thumper1 76595 replies3392 threads Senior Member
    @ReelLife

    First of all...Swarthmore has early DECISION...not early action. Early decision really should be done only if a student has a clear top choice college AND you feel you can pay the costs the school calculates you need to pay.

    My opinion...if your kid doesn’t have a clear first choice college...no ED.

    If you have any financial constraints...ED probably isn’t a good idea either as you won’t be able to compare net costs at multiple acceptances.

    Early decision will require you to accept (or decline) the offer of acceptance rather quickly after it is received. It is a binding decision unless the finances don’t work out.

    Now...early ACTION. That is an early application but is not binding in terms of admission...and your kiddo doesn’t need to commit until May 1...giving her the option of applying to multiple schools.

    Has your kid visited Swat? Has she visited other colleges? I personally would not allow an ED application without some really solid feeling that this is THE school...and a visit to this school plus some others would be a key ingredient.
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  • ReelLifeReelLife 68 replies4 threads Junior Member
    Apologies @thumper1 I meant ED. I completely agree that she should visit. We are going to be in the US to drop our eldest off at college in Boston in August but she will already be back in school and is not inclined to miss class so our only chance will be her fall break in October which is better as Swat will be in session. I guess we'll hold off unitl then to make that decision. It seems that, statistically, it is a significant boost at Swat to do ED and she is very drawn to its focus on community engagement (as evidenced by the Lang Center). No other school is speaking to her that loudly right now. Oberlin is too rural. Barnard doesn't offer merit aid. Not convinced a women's college is for her. So right now she does have a clear number one but a visit (or, as you say, multiple visits to a number of schools) would certainly clarify.
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  • SybyllaSybylla 4368 replies56 threads Senior Member
    edited July 2018
    You need merit? How are her stats, what can you pay? Will you need FA? HOw much longer is sibling in college as this affects FA? . These are things that are usually the first questions.
    edited July 2018
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  • ReelLifeReelLife 68 replies4 threads Junior Member
    @sybylla I would love to get merit and for our S it was nice that acceptances came with offers -- that was a nice surprise so I'd love to have her apply to schools where that's possible. She has 1440 SAT and is in an IB program with all 6s and 7s and 4 UL classes so I think that translates to about a 4.0 unweighted and close to a 5.0 weighted depending on which school is doing the calculation (there is variation I'm told). We're unlikely to qualify for need-based aid. Our son will be a college freshman in the fall.
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  • SybyllaSybylla 4368 replies56 threads Senior Member
    So the thing is about merit, is that you need to define what you will pay, as you know there are plenty of schools that will offer little sweeteners that mean nothing against the COA. The SAT score isn't outstanding but her IB scores are, so that means looking to leverage that if possible. Obviously she is interesting with her schooling abroad but hardly novel. If you can pay 40K a year, 30K a year etc, you can fine tune things a bit but round out the list for less abstract notions of merit. Safeties need to be solid financial safeties vs admission.
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  • ReelLifeReelLife 68 replies4 threads Junior Member
    @sybylla I appreciate your insights but I'm a little confused about what we're talking about. When you say "you need to define what you will pay" do you mean for my own personal financial accounting or in some official way to qualify for merit aid? And are you talking about her stats in relation to getting an acceptance or getting merit aid? And I'm not sure what you mean by sweeteners and COA. When her brother applied last year, I didn't even know much about merit aid and was pleasantly surprised when the acceptances came with merit offers. While the offers impacted his choice of where to attend, merit aid did not play a role until that step in the process. As far as I can tell, these schools she's looking at (Oberlin, Swarthmore, Boston C, Bryn Mawr, Sarah Lawrence, Smith, NYU, etc.) all cost about the same so that doesn't seem to be much of a filter unless some are significantly more likely to offer merit aid.
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  • SybyllaSybylla 4368 replies56 threads Senior Member
    So merit money is just a bonus, not a requirement? If so you don't need to muddy the waters with that aspect. The point for merit (real $$) seekers is that it won't come from desirable schools.
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  • ReelLifeReelLife 68 replies4 threads Junior Member
    edited July 2018
    Got it. That makes sense. Don't get me wrong, it's nice to have but we won't absolutely exclude schools that don't offer it. Right now I'm more worried about getting her in somewhere that's a good fit.
    edited July 2018
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  • HMom16HMom16 708 replies18 threads Member
    One of the benefits of a consultant, even now, is to provide unemotional assistance with application essays and presenting the student in the best light. The consultant can also help identify colleges that are a good fit, balancing the student's interests, likelihood of admission and financial considerations.

    While we did not use a consultant, a good friend found hers invaluable. Kids can be very sensitive to parental suggestions ("criticism"?) and many teens just don't trust their parent's advice as much as a third party (even when they're saying the same thing.) In my friend's case, the consultant helped diffuse emotions on both sides so that the student stayed on track and presented herself in her best light.

    I agree with the posters above - references are key to identifying a good consultant.
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  • bookwormbookworm 9109 replies72 threads Senior Member
    edited July 2018
    There are at least counselors here on CC: Hanna, Jym626, soozievt.

    Right now, it seems your list is good for reach schools. You do know Swathmore has a 9% admit rate, as one example.
    edited July 2018
    Post edited by MaineLonghorn on
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