The decision to hire an independent college advisor is a difficult one. It’s extra time and money on top of whatever college counseling your student’s school may offer.
Once you make the decision to hire an independent college advisor, you should know what questions to ask possible candidates before you start the college admissions process.
Here are seven questions to ask before you hire an independent college advisor.
Do you provide a preliminary assessment when you begin the process?
In order for the counselor to understand your student’s unique needs, he or she should do a preliminary assessment. This could include personality tests and career tests or be simply a question-and-answer session. It’s important for the advisor to understand the basic needs and dreams of any student.
2. How do you choose the colleges you recommend?
Many counselors steer toward students the Ivies or their “favorite” colleges. In order to find the best fit for your student, the counselor should be willing to explore all college possibilities, from public to private to nternational. The fit of the college is more important than the name. Counselors should be able to explain how they help students choose and what colleges they know the most about.
3. How can I be sure I’m getting the best fit for the best price?
Best fit means the college meets your student’s academic, social and financial needs. The counselor should be open to any suggestions and offer suggestions based on the information you provide about your finances and ability to pay. The counselor should also know which colleges provide the best aid packages, if financial aid is a priority for your family.
4. Will you help with college essays?
A critical portion of the college application is the application essay. A good counselor will be able to help your student brainstorm a topic, help with proofreading and provide editing suggestions.
5. How do you help a student with college prep in a way that is unique from other counselors?
Every counselor is different. This question will help you compare counselors and better determine which one fits your student’s personality. For example, a counselor who provides an outside-the-box approach might be better for a creative student than one who strictly adheres to guidelines and criteria.
6. When advising a student, what do you consider when making recommendations for specific schools?
Each student is different. A good counselor will recognize those differences and evaluate your student accordingly. An average student may need a different approach than a student who excels academically. Each of these students should be marketed to the colleges differently.
7. Can you help with financial aid and scholarship advice?
A key part of any college application process is financing. If money is no object, this will not factor into the counselor’s college choices. However, if financial aid is critical, a counselor should be able to encourage your student to apply for scholarships, offer help and find those colleges with generous financial-aid packages.
Hiring an independent college counselor should be a family decision. You and your student should be comfortable with whom you choose and you and the counselor should be partners working together to help your student find the best college.