We are excited to launch College OpenSource, a network of expert advisors to students and families helping with the difficult and complex process of enrolling in college undergraduate programs. College OpenSource exists for students and will put them first at all times.
Attending college is a personally important and expensive undertaking. Messing up has big personal and financial costs.
Students make college enrollment mistakes in large numbers. They enroll in the wrong college, badly suited for them. Their applications don’t properly present who they are and what they can do. They pay too much in tuition. They enroll in colleges with too few instructors and can’t get into the classes they need to graduate on time. And on and on and on.
College consultants help with students with everything from academic advice to emotional well-being to researching future careers to college search and costs. For families who are leery of paying even more money out for consulting help in addition to tuition bills, if you think hiring a college consultant costs too much, wait until you see how expensive not hiring one can be.
More students should be using college consultants
Do professional athletes negotiate their contracts with team front offices themselves? Of course not. Athletes don’t have the knowledge and experience to match wits with front offices, who handle contracts all the time. The athletes hire agents, who understand contracts as well as the front offices, to negotiate for them. The money may be bigger (most of the time) but the analogy with students holds. Students need expert help to navigate the world of higher education, where colleges are tied together by shared data, deep professional connections and years of experience of enrolling class after class.
College enrollment is a business
Applying to college is among other things a business transaction. The well-being of most colleges is closely tied to enrolling students and maximizing the amount of revenue they generate. That doesn’t mean the colleges don’t have students’ best interests at heart. They want them to thrive, and are often deeply committed to that. But college staff have budgets to hit and mortgages to pay. They are deeply committed to those, too. Like most business relationships, the interests of colleges and students are not in conflict – but they aren’t aligned either.
Students & families have a difficult time finding the right consultants
Many families have a difficult time finding advisors to help them with the college search. Consultants market through word of mouth and a blizzard of different online sites and social media. There are also consultants who frankly are underqualified or undercommitted to their profession. College OpenSource is presenting a curated set of expert consultants to help families know what is out there and ease the process of initial inquiries. Moreover, all consultants are held to the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA) Principles of Good Practice to ensure a high level of ethics and conduct. IECA is a leading professional organization with an excellent reputation for industry ethics and practice leadership. The network presents expertise, ethics and a forum for open discussion of higher ed and its students from a consumer perspective.
The college consulting business is changing
Just a few years ago, college consultants mostly helped with students from the county or region where they lived, worked in person and met their clients through word of mouth. Today, with COVID receding (hopefully), consultants work virtually with almost all their students and they are beginning to expand their client base across the country, with online presence growing in importance.
If the business is virtual and national, it needs a centralized resource, like College OpenSource. Another consequence of the new national reach is that consultants need to specialize to a greater degree than before. College applicants are young and change interests and preferences, so broad knowledge and adaptability will always be a key trait for consultants. But a degree of focus and specialization will help match students with the right consultants for them. Virtual, national marketing, a centralized platform and increased specialization go together hand in glove.
Higher Ed is changing
A complex topic so I will cover two things:
Undergrads taking only online classes stood at about 13% pre-COVID. Current surveys indicate about 1/3 of students would prefer to take all classes online. Online education has a very different enrollment structure than traditional in-person schooling and will require everyone to adapt. And it will require an online marketplace to work well.
And students are winning the admissions arms race. Don’t be fooled by outdated thinking based on bad information: colleges overall are facing difficulties enrolling enough students and are failing to raise prices as quickly as inflation. My belief is that students’ silver bullet is the number of applications they are submitting per student. It has increased steadily year after year and just hit an all-time high before COVID. Students are winning! And students who use consultants can win even more.
We hope you will find College OpenSource a useful, interesting tool. While we encourage all our users to sign up as members, which is free and will allow them to stay informed about higher education, membership is not required to contact consultants or use the site.
One final comment: College Open Source is a network platform, not a closed store front. If you are a consultant or business who thinks they can grow or add a service by tapping into the platform and the marketplace in some way, please write me so we can discuss how to do so.