Would we benefit from a college consultant?

How do I know if we would benefit from a college consultant?

– Jules, a parent from Redmond, WA

College consultants were relatively unheard of until the 2019 Varsity Blues college admissions scandal.

Before then, college consultants of course existed, though mainly in wealthier areas where college brand names matters. Today, though, the college consulting industry is a billion-dollar industry.

I had only heard of college consultants after starting college at Northwestern in 2011, when a classmate from the NYC-area said her mom had hired someone to “put her portfolio together.” Turns out, consultants did indeed exist when I was in high school in Orange County — one of those wealthier areas where college brand names matter.

I figured that out when I moved back to my hometown to work in a college consulting firm. It had been in business since my elementary school days.

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Who knew.

When reflecting upon my stint in consulting, I feel like there were three types of students that really benefitted from my help and three that didn’t.

3 Types of People That Benefitted from College Consulting:

  1. Students and parents eager to explore ALL college options without obsessing over name brands.
    • One of the consultant’s biggest responsibilities is compiling a personalized college list for each student, based on his or her interest, personality, background, finances, and preferences. This list is challenging for parents to create because the average person does not know just how many suitable colleges are out there and instead relies on popular rankings, brand names, or media coverage. Likewise, this is a list that is truly the gift of the consultant, who has spent hours researching and connecting with individuals who attend, work at, or have graduated from those institutions. The students the most eager to discover unknown options and really evaluate each one, giving each suggestion a chance, usually found themselves surprisingly happy. Those who equated determination with narrow-mindedness were disappointed when rejection letters filled their inboxes.
  2. Parents willing to let the consultant work with their child without constantly contradicting them.
    • Consultants like to think of the work as a form of family mediation. The parents pay, so they should be the client, right? But the kid is the one going to college, so shouldn’t they have a say, too? It’s a delicate balance that demands careful attention from the consultant, because every family will ask for something different.

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