What Should You Look for in a College Counselor?
What do you look for in a college counselor? That is a really good question. Even though we offer college counseling services at EFC, the choice of whom to work with is ultimately up to our families. So, here is our honest checklist about selecting a college counselor.
Selecting a College Counselor Checklist #1: They know their trade
This one might be a little bit obvious when picking a college counselor, but pick one that knows what they are doing. They should understand the basics of how to pick a college, how to get into college, and how to write college essays. A college counseling program should have a set methodology that takes a student and their family from start to finish. The idea of going to college is scary. For some, it might be the first time they leave home. For others, it will constitute one of the bigger decisions in life. For most, it will be both. Having a holistic college counselor that knows every single step of the way is very important.
Yes, they should be able to help with college essays, but they should also be able to advise on a best fit college. College is a 4-year commitment that costs sometimes more than $100,000. Get a college counselor that knows their trade so that you get the best information every step of the way.
Picking a College Counselor Checklist #2: References
Getting a college counselor with quality experience is very important. The only real way to validate that quality experience is by looking at their testimonials and their references. What you want to look for are quality college counseling testimonials that show their dedication to their students and the students’ families. A college counselor that takes the time to understand each family, their circumstances, and their goals will increase their student’s chances of getting into college. Yes, we know that testimonials and references typically show the good parts. So, don’t forget to check places they have less control over like social media. This is your Facebook, Google reviews, and even Yelp. Take some time to look into their college counseling program beyond what they provide you. Many professionals can memorize facts or find them out for you on the way, but dedication to the success of their students is rare and goes a long way. The whole counseling for college admissions process is a long and sometimes stressful process. Finding someone with a proven track record as a college counselor will make these times less stressful.
Picking a College Counselor Checklist #3: A Good Match
There are two levels of finding a good match in a college counselor. Remember, figuring out what colleges to apply to, writing college essays, and completing all of the supplemental information is an anxiety-inducing process. This is especially the case if this is the first time for your family. What this means is that your student will be spending a lot of time getting counseling for college admissions. Choose a college counselor that first understands the types of schools that belong in your best fit college category. Is your student an arts student? Are they a STEM student? Are they not too sure what they want to do? Finding a college counseling program that can cover your category of colleges will determine if you’re getting the right insights to applications. However, this last point is probably most important in finding a college counselor. Very few students love writing college essays or talking about themselves, but that is what is required to get into college. We know this is really hard to do, so find a college counselor that gets along with your student. Preferably one that has some history with you and your student. The college counseling journey can be a long one. Whether you start a year out in advance or only have 2 months before applications are due, find a college counselor that gets along with your family and most importantly your student.
Picking a College Counselor Checklist #4: Hourly not Packaged Program
This last one is more of a side comment for finding a college counselor. It really depends on each family’s budget and their student’s independence. As we have mentioned numerous times above, applying for college can be nerve wracking. When you are looking for a college counselor, we always suggest one that has an hourly plan. Why is this? Well, families tend to go with packages because they are more budget friendly. College counselors know this, but they also know that package plans are all encompassing. It is one fee that covers how to pick a college, how to get into college, how to write college essays, and any of the knick-knacks that can come up. What this typically means is that they will try to compensate time with workshops or online videos, which makes it less individualized. This is especially true when they have a more affordable program and therefore have to take on more students. Getting a college counselor that charges an hourly fee ensures that your students get the undivided attention of their counselor. Whether they need a lot of one-on-one time or they don’t. College applications are already stressful enough, make sure your college counselor has the time for your student.