Parents, trying to learn college admission while your child is applying to college is just like flying the proverbial airplane while you are building it. Instead, you should strongly consider hiring an experienced college admission consultant to help with the process.
You might be thinking, “I got this!” Your son or daughter might be telling you, “I don’t need a college consultant.” Both of these statements might be true. However, in many more cases, trying to learn college admission while applying to college is just like flying the proverbial airplane while you are building it. Frankly, there are so many subtle and not-so-subtle aspects to college admission that it is literally impossible to learn on the job. To quote an overused cliché, “You don’t know what you don’t know.” And with so much at stake, it simply does not make sense to take chances with decisions, activities, and skills that ultimately will determine where your child will go to college.
On the surface, you may be thinking that there are four or five factors that differentiate one college candidate from another. You may be thinking that admissions decisions are based entirely or primarily on: GPA, test scores, essays, activities, and recommendations. Even if this were true, an experienced college counselor could provide extraordinarily important input into these factors, making each one stronger and more compelling. But, the truth is, there are far more factors such as: interviews, demonstrated interest, college visits, college supplements, auditions, videos, resumes, choice of major/area of interest, proof of character, demonstration of important interpersonal attributes, a unique selling proposition, special projects, admission types, scholarships, financial aid, and many more.
Furthermore, it is important to understand that college admission is not a paint-by-numbers process. Every student is different. I like to say that college admission is part science and part art form. There are certain predictable factors that can be managed and improved. That is the science part. The art form is in identifying and promulgating a particular image that is most compelling to a college, and then boosting that image through a series of activities, the focus of essays, answers to questions posed during interviews, and providing recommenders with a cheat sheet, or brag sheet, to assist them in writing the strongest and most favorable recommendation possible.
This is not to mention the whole psychological factor. Although filling out college applications and engaging in college-admission related activities should be an exciting time, and a time of parent/student bonding, it often turns out to be a contentious and stress-filled activity. In this respect, an experienced and perspicacious college consultant can provide objective opinions that can serve to mollify even the most contentious discussions and decisions.
Another place where a college counselor can be extraordinarily helpful is in choice of colleges and majors. Colleges happen to be far more than their reputations or their rankings. Each college has its own unique characteristics, personality, and strengths. Some may have a strong core curriculum requirement, great science programs, writing programs, or research opportunities, while others feature pre-professional programs, open curriculum, or residential housing.
In closing, I would like to re-pose the question asked in the title of this article, “What exactly does a college admission consultant do, anyway?” Of course, the answer varies from person to person, and company to company. Suffice to say that an experienced college counselor will do more than help you manage the process. An experienced college counselor can help you formulate a list of appropriate colleges and improve the odds of getting in, while simultaneously making the entire process run smoothly and without stress. An experienced college counselor will help you formulate ideas for essays, prepare for interviews, organize your time, help you acquire strong recommendations, find appropriate activities and extracurricular opportunities, make decisions with respect to admission plans, improve your demonstrated interest profile, engage in special projects, organize your test taking plan of action, and formulate an overarching strategy for college admission success.
So, to all the doctors, lawyers, engineers, business consultants, secretaries, managers, butchers, bakers, and candlestick maker’s out there, you certainly wouldn’t want me doing your job, but you should definitely consider letting me do mine, which is to help your sons and daughters have successful college admission campaigns. I hope to speak to you soon.
Neil Chyten, Founder and CEO
NC Global Education, Inc.