Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Why hire a college consultant? I'll tell you

I've seen a few articles lately that question whether it's worth it for families to hire an independent educational consultant. To me, it's simple: if you need help and you're not getting it, hire a college consultant. 

I know the value of objective help when it comes to figuring out college plans. I was fortunate to attend a school that had dedicated college counselors, but I know this is not typical. In most schools the person responsible for guiding the process is the school counselor, who is also responsible for one hundred different things-- administrative tasks, conflict resolution, and whatever else is needed. They’re a valuable, necessary resource and the demands placed on them are increasing.

On average, a single school counselor is responsible for over 300 students. I earned my master’s degree in secondary school counseling, so I’ve seen what these wonderful professionals are expected to achieve with increasingly limited resources. College planning falls down the list because there are simply more important things that need immediate attention. In 2003, a National Center for Educational Statistics study found that “43 percent of all public high schools reported that more than 20 percent of their counselors’ time is spent on college advising, which meant that 57 percent of school counselors spend 0-19 percent of their time on college advising. Using NCES’s ratio of 315 students per counselor in public high schools and the estimate of hours the average counselor spends on college counseling, ”counselors are spending 38 minutes per year per student for college advising" (p 9, NACAC Fundamentals of College Advising). 

I’m not here to replace what a school counselor does, but I am here to supplement it because all I do is college counseling. Independent educational consultants have been helping students and their families for decades, but the need for their skills and expertise is increasing because more and more families realized they couldn’t navigate the time-consuming college process on their own.

I don’t have 300 students that I’m responsible for. I’ve placed self-imposed limits on the number of students I will work with because I want to make sure I can give the very best of what I have to offer. I’m not here to nickel and dime you. I do this because I offer unlimited phone and email contact and I couldn’t do that if I was working with a large number of families. I expect the student to work hard because I’m going to work hard for the student. This is a partnership.

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