Explore how an educational consultant can help your child achieve college admissions success
If you’re the parent of a high school student, you feel the pressure of the college application process approaching. You’re already anticipating the stress, tears, and frustrations to come.
But what if the college admissions process doesn’t have to be difficult? What if it could actually be a positive experience for you and your child?
You’ve heard of friends who hired an independent educational consultant to help their child through the college process. Could an educational consultant be the right choice for your family, too?
Just what does an independent educational consultant do? Well, we counsel students and families through the entire college admissions process. We use our firsthand knowledge and experience to help students explore their options and discover the perfect school for them.
Sound like a dream come true?
You want your child to attend the best college, but you’re not a college expert. Don’t worry, because I am. And so are my educational consultant colleagues. Consider inviting us to be a part of your child’s college journey.
Keep reading to learn why college admissions is stressful for families to face alone, how an independent educational consultant can help, and how to pick the right college planning consultant for you.
Why is the college admissions process so stressful?
If you tackle your child’s college admissions process alone, it’s bound to be stressful for all of you. And there are several reasons why.
You’re facing the unknown. The college application process has changed a lot since you went to school. It’s become more complicated and competitive than ever. How should you be expected to know how to navigate it?
Plus, there are over 4,000 colleges in the country. The average person can only be familiar with a handful. But my job as an independent educational consultant is to visit colleges around the nation and stay up-to-date with college changes.
You’re short on time. You have a busy life as it is. Do you want to spend hours upon hours of your time researching different colleges and careers with your child? Luck for you, I love doing research! Especially when what I uncover directly impacts the students I work with.
What about guiding your child through self-reflection exercises? Or brainstorming impactful essay topics? Or editing essays, activity lists, and resumes? It all takes time—probably much more than you have to spare.
You’re straining the parent-child relationship. These are the final years before your child leaves the nest and heads off into adulthood. Wouldn’t you rather spend that time being their supportive cheerleader instead of their nagging drill sergeant?
If you’re in charge of propelling the college application process forward, tension and stress will seep into the relationship you have with your child. Let an independent educational consultant take on that tough role so you can focus your time and energy on the better stuff!
How an independent educational consultant increases college success
Beyond taking the pressure and stress off your shoulders, let’s take a look at exactly how an educational consultant can help your family.
1. We provide individualized attention throughout the college admissions process.
Your child’s high school counselor might serve anywhere between 200 and 400 students. Trust me, my roster is nowhere close to that! I’m able to provide plenty of one-on-one time to my students so they’re never left in the dark about college admissions.
2. We bring extensive knowledge, experience, and skills to the table.
My entire focus is on helping your child find the right college and career for them. I’ve edited hundreds of college essays. I’ve reviewed and polished hundreds of individual college applications, too.
I know what I’m doing, and I love what I do. When it’s your child’s first time applying to colleges, it’s useful to have a seasoned college planning consultant on their side.
3. We have the inside scoop about colleges.
We know where your child has the best chances of getting accepted, and how to increase those chances with a well-crafted application.
Even more important, we know what colleges won’t match your child’s unique interests and personality. Even if it’s a top-10 rated school, if your child won’t be happy there, why waste the time and money applying?
Plus, we know what schools offer the scholarships your child needs to comfortably afford their education. Why apply to a college if it’s going to be too expensive?
4. We help you navigate the unexpected.
The college admissions landscape is constantly changing. Just look at the current test-optional trend. No parent has figured out quite how to tackle the confusion and uncertainty of test-optional colleges.
You could spend hours trying to figure out new admissions policies, or allow an independent education consultant to do the work and guide your child to a successful college outcome.
5. We promote your child’s self-discovery.
This is a particularly strong pillar of my college planning approach. I devote special attention to helping my students discover their unique skill sets, strengths, and aptitudes—and how those relate to potential majors and careers.
After years of working in higher education, I’ve discovered a valuable truth. Students who spend quality time thinking about what they want to do with their lives are more enthusiastic, more determined, and more successful at earning their degree. That’s why this step is so important.
How to choose the right educational consultant for you
By now, you might be convinced that hiring an independent educational consultant is the right choice for you. But how can you find the perfect one for your college-bound student? After all, there are thousands to choose from.
Here are a few questions you can ask when searching for and meeting with potential education consultants.
What’s your focus?
Some college planning consultants want to get their students into the highest ranked schools. Others care more about finding the right fit college for every student, no matter the ranking. I fall strongly into the second category.
A quick word of caution: don’t trust too-good-to-be-true guarantees. Promising to get your child into all their top choices or all the top-10 colleges is neither ethical or legal. (Remember the Varsity Blues scandal?)
What’s your background and experience?
It’s important to know how long an independent educational consultant has been doing this work, as well as what they were doing before. Some, like myself, worked in colleges before becoming consultants. Others worked in high schools. Each background offers unique insight.
Furthermore, educational consultants should be regularly expanding their knowledge and experience. Ideally, they should visit 20 or more colleges every year and attend national admissions conferences to stay up to date on college trends.
What tools do you use?
Certain consulting tools help students stay calm and organized much better than others. I follow the TRACK IT! Curriculum when I work with students. It helps us move together through each stage of the college planning process. Plus, it includes workbooks, handouts, and timelines that my families find extremely useful.
I also use a communication platform called CollegePlannerPro. It allows me to share tasks, messages, and college information directly to my students’ devices. In return, my students can easily send files or essay drafts to me and give updates on their between-meeting progress.
What organizations do you belong to?
Any independent educational consultant you hire should be a member of a professional organization. It indicates we’ve completed a certain standard of education and training that empowers us to be good at what we do.
I personally am an associate member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA).
What packages do you offer?
You should consider what your child needs and how it matches what a potential consultant offers. Some students just need occasional guidance and check-ins, while others require in-depth wraparound services.
Look at the flexibility of consulting packages. If your child needs more time and attention, can they get it? How accessible will the independent educational consultant be to you and your student?
What are your prices?
Evaluate your budget and determine how much you can afford. In my experience, reducing your family stress and having peace of mind about your child’s future is well worth the cost of hiring an experienced independent educational consultant.
It’s an immediate red flag if a consultant is vague about their costs in an introductory meeting with you. They should clearly explain their fee structure—verbally and in writing—before you make any type of commitment.
Final thoughts about hiring an educational consultant
I want every student and family to have a positive college admissions experience. That’s why I’m so passionate about my work and excited to promote the field of educational consulting.
When my students reach the end of the admissions process and commit to the perfect college for them, this is what their parents say to me. “I don’t know how we could’ve done this without you!”
If you’re at all nervous about guiding your child through the college application process, don’t go it alone. And if you’re ready to start interviewing potential educational consultants, let’s get in touch. We can see if my unique student-driven approach is the right fit for you!
Dr. Tucker established her own consulting business after a long, successful career working in higher education. Besides being an associate member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA), she is also trained as a Life and Career Coach through the Institute for Life Coach Training. She toured hundreds of colleges, networked with admissions reps from across the country, and spoken at national conferences about student success and college retention. Read more about her here.