10 Tips for Choosing an Independent College Counselor
Previously, we gave you a list of ways that you can work with your high school college counselor during the college admissions process. For families seeking additional guidance, it may be helpful to also use an independent college counselor.
An independent counselor can supplement your school’s guidance efforts by providing personalized guidance throughout the college admissions process including creating a balanced college list, compiling and formatting the resume, preparing for interviews and college visits, explaining the admissions process, and brainstorming and editing components of the application including the essays and personal statement.
At IvyWise, we guide students and their families through every step of the school admissions process, from identifying the schools that will be the best academic and social fits for them to creating applications that portray the best and most accurate representation of who they are to the admissions committees at their targeted schools.
If you are interested in hiring an independent counselor, look for the following criteria:
- Full membership with the IECA (Independent Education Consultants Association), and ideally a member of NACAC (National Association of College Admissions Counselors)
- A certificate in college counseling, a master’s degree in education, or a certified education planner
- Experience working in a selective college’s admissions office or for a competitive high school’s college counseling office
- Ongoing professional development such as attendance (and participation/presenting) at college admissions conferences
- Contributes to the profession regularly via articles, books, online tools, blogs, podcasts, webinars, television, social media, newsletters, etc.
- Has visited at least 100 colleges and universities and continues to visit about 10 per year to stay up-to-date with the latest college information Tip: Ask him or her which colleges he or she has visited in the last 3 years
- Ability to see their history of success and get testimonials easily
- What counseling methodology does he or she use? Counseling sessions should be followed up with comprehensive notes and clear next steps. Parents should be kept in the loop and the counselor should be accessible during after-work hours and on weekends, especially during the busy application season
- Follows standards of ethics and good practice – does he or she know about these guidelines and follow them? These standards should be posted in their office
- Willingness to work in collaboration with your school guidance counselor
An independent counselor should not:
- Contact an admissions office on behalf of the student
- Promise admission to a particular school
- Write or overly-edit essays for the student
- Receive any compensation from educational institutions