Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Is Hiring a College Admissions Consultant Worth it?

One of the primary reasons I began this blog/website and YouTube/Podcasting project was that I used to be a college application consultant. I was fortunate in that I had a good career in this field and was able to help students get into Stanford, NYU, every UC, and many other top colleges.

I started off doing working as an admissions consultant back in late 2014 and continued to work in the field until 2017. While I was successful, over time I began to feel somewhat uneasy about the work I was doing.

In the above YouTube video I describe what it is like working as an admissions consultant and the benefits and drawbacks of working with one.

While it is my belief that hiring a consultant can be a great thing, it can also be a huge waste of time and money depending on the expertise of the person you decide to work with.

For example, I note in the video that many of the consultants that I worked with had no professional expertise in either higher education and/or admissions at any academic level. Many times these were fresh graduates who were learning how to apply to these schools, just as much as the student and the student's family was.

Consequently, this experience led me to formulate this website for a few reasons. Firstly, what students were getting charged for a consultant's expertise was astronomical. Secondly, many parents felt pressured into buying these services and information, information that quite frankly can be found for free on the internet. Lastly, these companies (of which there are many) aren't really out to educate students, they are out to turn a profit. There is nothing inherently wrong with that in reality, but it was something that always made me feel uncomfortable.

So, to close out this post -  I will lay out the pros and cons of hiring a consultant to help you with your application.

  1. Depending on the timeframe in which you work with a consultant, you can develop a good working relationship allowing the consultant to guide your essay responses towards experiences that highlight your unique qualities in a way that helps you most on your applications.
  2. Many of these consulting firms also provide SAT/ACT, and subject matter tutoring. This can help you with other critical aspects of your college application.
  3. If you hire a consultant when you or your child is younger, they can help guide you towards building an extracurricular profile that can better benefit your application.
  4. Having someone who can help you select a colleges and your major is not always feasible at many high schools. Even at the small public high school I attended, I met my guidance counselor once and she didn't spend nearly any time helping me to explore my interests.
  5. Much of the work you do with a consultant will be interchangeable. For example, many essay prompts are similar among different universities, so having 4-5 good quality essays will go miles in terms of having a strong foundation from which to tailor essays specifically to each institution you're applying at.
  1. Generally speaking, consultants are incredibly expensive. The national average for an admissions consultant hourly rate is $250.
  2. As noted above, consultants have a variety of expertise. If you are going to a bigger, chain-like, tutoring entity you very well may end up working with a consultant who is fresh to the field.
  3. Working with larger consulting firms may give you more options in selecting a consultant, but many also have "hidden charges", that while they aren't necessarily hidden in the truest sense off the word, these charges aren't always discussed up front. For example, many firms will push tutoring services, SAT/ACT boot camps, and other supplemental services on students and their families in an attempt to make more money.
  4. Consultant burn out is a real issue. If a consultant has a large stable of students, how much mental energy is going to be realistically placed on your college application?
  5. If for some reason a college found out you were using a consultant to help you write your essays, it could be used against you in an admissions selection scenario.
Do you have questions about your college application? Leave a comment and I'll be happy to give you free advice to the best of my ability!

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