Your friends are doing it, parents are talking about it in the football stands, you’re reading about it in the news. Would hiring a private college advisor be right for you and your child? If so, how do you find a “good” one?
A seasoned college advisor can be a lifesaver if you are unfamiliar with current admissions requirements, trends and practices. Not only can they bring you peace of mind, but a private college advisor can introduce you and your student to colleges you may not have heard of. These colleges will be selected based on your student’s academic profile, as well as other metrics like size, location, cost, sport preferences, weather – just about anything that your student feels is important. Additionally, a college advisor can help your student strategize for the best possible application outcome.
Personal referrals are always a great place to start your search for a private college advisor. You can also find a list of local college advisors on the Higher Education Consultants Association (“HECA”) website.
Questions you should ask a college advisor include:
Q. How long have been advising students?
A. You want to find an advisor who has been in the business, full time, for at least five years.
Q. Have you completed a specialized program for college advising?
A. The top advisors have attended a 2 or 3-year college and career advising program at a university, either in person or online. The UC system has a few options for this and prepares advisors well.
Q. How many students do you help each year?
A. An advisor’s client load can tell you a lot about how much attention your student will receive. Fewer than ten full-package clients might indicate that the advisor is still learning the trade or is perhaps close to retirement. More than 20-25 clients should prompt you to ask about any limitations in applications, essays or hours spent with your student.
Q. Can you guarantee my child will be accepted to his favorite college (or any college)?
A. A reputable college advisor will not make any guarantees whatsoever, aside from promising to do their best.
Q. Do you specialize in any specific area?
A. Some advisors specialize in helping students with learning differences, visual and performing arts, military, and sports applicants. Most advisors are capable of helping these students, although they don’t consider themselves specialists in any particular area. If your student has a special need, a seasoned advisor in that area can be found. Keep looking and asking.
Q. Do you personally know college representatives, and can you advocate for my son or daughter?
A. This answer should be “no”. If it isn’t, move on.
Q. Do you tour colleges on your own?
A. A qualified college advisor tours campuses all over the country and should visit, on average, between 5 and 15 campuses each year.
Q. What is your process, and when do you begin working with students?
A. There is not a ‘standard’ approach to counseling a student through the college admission process. Do your best to understand the advisor’s process, timeline and price, and make sure it sounds like it will meet your needs.
Finally, remember that your student’s high school will offer professional guidance and these services should be utilized to their fullest extent before you reach out for additional support.