College consultant

Do You Need to Hire a Professional College Consultant?

Getting your child through high school, into a college, and later a career involves specific tasks. You may find that you need a hand and turn to a professional to hire for help. What kind of help depends on your family, your specific needs, and your budget.

Since 2012, we have supported thousands of families through this process. However, our approach is not the same as the typical professional college consultant’s process.

After so many years in this world of college admissions, we wanted to share some thoughts with you before you plunk down a chunk of change for something you may or may not need.

What is a professional college consultant?

Typically, a professional college consultant is hired as a multi-year commitment with the goal of choosing a college. Although they can be hired on an hourly basis, it is more common to pay for a package. The IECA reported that the mean college advising package fee in 2018, the latest survey available, ranged from $850 to $10,000, with average packages in the $4,000-$6,000 range.

A consultant’s focus typically is on making a college list for the student. They visit lots of colleges each year and are familiar with their campuses and programs. Consultants may suggest what high school courses and extracurriculars your child should take or what research paper your child should write. Some may offer test prep, essay support, or career advice.

Be wary of any consultant who promises to get your child into a specific school. The majority won’t do this. (Check out this list of other warning signs of bad business practices.)

Don’t let fear be a decision maker.

The “getting into college” process can feel overwhelming, and it’s a big deal to your child. This combination leads to many families feeling vulnerable and sometimes desperate or distressed. Parents will tell us, “We don’t know what we don’t know!” This is truly fixable.

Most families we support are very smart people, but they lack experience with this process. They sense that their kiddo will be at some kind of disadvantage unless they fork over a lot of money to hire a consultant. We don’t believe that.

How are we different?

First and foremost, we want to offer a “choose your own adventure” type of service. This process is not rocket science. You can do this!

Start by taking advantage of all the free stuff we do—webinars, blogs, social media, career calls. If you’re willing to take some time and effort to read and watch what we produce, you’ll be so much more informed and confident.

From there, decide where your trouble spots are. Where do you need the most help? We recommend that you hire an expert in that thing.

Free yourself from focusing on the college.

So much time, effort, emotion, and money are poured into just picking a college. And yes, that is important, but most experts will say that there are many schools that can be a great fit for your student. (Some families use this freeing thought to shift to the financial elements as your key decision maker!)

If the purpose of going to college is to find a career your child will love, then we should start there and work backwards. With a clearer sense of the destination, we can focus on how we get from point A (high school grad) to point B (transitioning to work).

As a result, our team is focused on self assessment and career exploration to open students’ eyes to this thinking. We offer families many ways to do this work—Guided Self Assessment, Heads Up! for middle grades, career calls, our Why Go to College webinar, and more.

After knowing yourself and your potential career paths, the rest is just mechanical.

Millions of students start college each year. An overwhelming majority do so without the help of professional consultants by connecting with trusted resources for the missing pieces.

Answers to most questions are readily available for free or low cost, and we follow that model staying on top of the latest news and bringing it to you in our newsletters, social media, and programming.

What are some other ways to check off those mechanical tasks?

Most parents will agree that the cost of college is insane. Is it worth it anymore? Are there deals to be found? How do we find them? For most families, money will become the ultimate decision maker. Because money is so important, we recommend an expert with a deep knowledge of the topic like Joe Messinger. We partner with him to bring you our free Smart Money Moves for the College-Bound webinar. It’s a very eye-opening program to get you on the right track.

How about those college applications and essays? Worried your kiddo won’t do what they need to do? We get that! They may procrastinate, and they likely feel overwhelmed, just like you do. That’s why we created our College Application Workshops (taught in JUNE) – students get started early with our support. We continue to support them all summer long. Your student enters senior year with the bulk of the work done and the confidence that they can “do hard things” (like college!). The bonus is you arrive at the same place without spending thousands of dollars to get there.

Closing thoughts…

Remember to not let fear of the unknown or fear of missing out be the reason you hire someone. Carefully consider your needs before making that commitment. We have some trusted consultants to refer you should you need them. However, for many families, you can take control of your process and save lots of time and money by choosing to focus on those key elements specific to your situation.


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