Desperate times call for desperate measures. The end justifies the means. Greed is good. Any of these famous quotes can be used to rationalize paying and charging ridiculous sums of money to gain an advantage in any competitive industry. Wherever uncertainty, frailty, desire, and insecurity exist, there is always going to be someone ready to exploit it. This could not be truer than in the business of private college admissions consulting. If recent headlines have taught us anything, it is that if there is a will, there is a way when it comes to cheating any system. Of course, businesses exist to meet the needs of customers, but there is a difference between meeting a need and exploiting one. A good consultant helps their clients navigate the road to college and make informed decisions. Any student, and their parents, should do due diligence in finding the right resources to help them manage the college admissions process. Here are some tips/thoughts on how to make an appropriate selection when seeking the services of an independent college admissions consultant:
- There is a code of ethics that reputable private consultants follow and if anything in a consultant’s literature, website, or sales pitch raises flags, keep looking.
- A college admissions counselor should never “guarantee” results or even “strongly suggest” that they can get a student admitted.
- Be wary of counselors who market themselves with words like “selective” and “elite”; this is usually code for “outrageously expensive.”
- Ethical consultants will not engage in practices like: writing admissions essays, photoshopping images, forging documents, or claim to have an “in” with an admissions office.
- A good consultant will offer to discuss your needs and particular situation at no charge.
- E-mail or speak with a consultant directly and ask about their philosophy regarding higher education and the admissions process.
- Any consultant that charges thousands of dollars is not “better” or “more qualified”; they are just trying to take advantage of desperate clients.
- Research the consultant’s background and see if they have any client testimonials.
- Find out if the consultant publishes information on college admissions and if they stay on top of admission trends.
Independent college consulting is a business, and consumers should make informed decisions on not just where they should attend college, but who they will hire to help them reach their goals.