I’m a big fan of private college counselors IF they charge hourly (no lump sum $), come highly recommended by other family you know well, the sessions are one-on-one (not group), and they have the credentials to give college admissions advice.
After interviewing several, we went with a local, reputable cc who knew my D’s high school and her targeted colleges very well. She was very knowledgeable (former ivy adcom) and who was positive and realistic about D’s colleges.
The two things that the counselor did was a) she had insight into D’s top college choice (information not readily available to the public); and b) she “packaged” D starting end of Sophomore year to make sure she had a “story” that was consistent with her application and HS resume.
We used her hourly as needed and she was wonderful. I firmly believe she was the difference maker in getting D into her top 10 college ED. All in, we probably paid her $2,500-$3,000 over two years but was money well spent.
Sometimes you need a third-party specialist who your kids respect and will listen to their advice. CC is great but there is no substitute for one on one advice from someone who does college counseling 24/7 for a living.