By Dr. Paul Lowe – College Admissions Guru
Over the last 17 years as a college admissions advisor, I have observed that many well-intentioned parents don’t have the time, knowledge and emotional tolerance to “play” college admissions advisor, even after they create spreadsheets, read books, take copious notes during college tours, talk with friends, and try to gather information from my workshops.
U.S. parents are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of having a college admissions advisor.
For international families, hiring expert advice is the standard. A recent study showed 26% of high-achieving students used a private college admissions consultant to assist them with their college admissions process. Additional research has indicated that many international students, who applied to Ivy League and top-tier colleges and who were accepted, hired admissions advisors. (So it would appear that if you are not using the right admissions advisor you are at competitive disadvantage!)
Seeking the right admissions advisor isn’t easy. Advisors vary widely in their training, backgrounds, experience, approach and fees. Additionally, there are, of course, different levels of competency.
When evaluating admissions advisors, one should review his/her educational background, experience, reputation and strategic approach. Your admissions advisor should be a member of a reputable professional organization that provides ongoing professional development. In the U.S., there are three main organizations: Higher Education Consultants Association (HECA), National Association for College Admissions Counseling (NACAC) and its regional affiliates and the Independent Education Consultants (IECA).
A simple Google search is recommended to review the professional and the firm. Consider the following list of questions in the process of choosing the most appropriate advisor and firm for you and your child:
1. What is the tangible reputation of the firm?
2. Will you be dealing directly with the principal of the firm, it’s associates or part-time employees?
3. How long has the advisor been in the profession?
4. Is the advisor’s strategic approach formulaic or comprehensive and holistic?
5. Where did the advisor attend undergraduate or graduate school?
6. How is the advisor different from other advisors?
7. How does this difference contribute to your child’s success in the admissions process?
8. How do you compare to that advisor’s typical client?
9. Does the advisor bring firsthand and current knowledge of colleges and program options and opportunities to you?
10. Do they travel, monitor and evaluate college programs?
11. Do they know of admissions officers and understand the admissions dynamics of specific schools?
12. Do they stay abreast of the geopolitical, economic, social, and educational policies that affect college admissions? And your child’s acceptance to a college?
13. Does the advisor spend time with the student and family to explore the best placement options as well as the best school?
14. Does the advisor optimize a student’s academic potential and talent development during the college admissions process?
15. Are you subscribing to a personalized bespoke or a “one-size-fits-all” service?
16. What are your child’s goals? Do your child’s goals match the firm’s philosophy and mission?
17. Do you need to hire an advisor for only a few hours of advice or for a more comprehensive, long-term service?
18. Is the service geared to applying to any college, Division I colleges or Ivy League schools?
19. If the latter, did the advisor attend an Ivy League school as an undergraduate; did his/her children?
Many parents dismiss the idea of hiring an admissions expert to help their child. They perceive the service as an unnecessary cost, rather than a beneficial investment. Some parents believe that they can tackle the new global admissions milieu on their own. Your approach to choosing the right advisor should not be tantamount to finding the best price for a depreciable asset such as a car or even an appreciable asset such as second or third home. College admissions advising is an investment in your child’s future.
Use the guide provided above to seek the best qualities and true value of an admissions advisor for your child. You and your child have worked too hard to leave the admissions process to chance. Remember, you are choosing to hire the right expert for your child’s future!
“Destiny is not a matter of chance; it is a matter of choice.” – William Jennings Bryan
Dr. Paul Reginald Lowe is the managing director and lead admissions expert at Greenwich Admissions Advisors. Tel. (203) 542-7288.
Dr. Lowe is an active member of several professional organizations including: the Higher Education Consultants Association (HECA), the National Association for College Counseling (NACAC), the New York Association for College Admission Counseling (NYACAC), the New Jersey Association for College Admission Counseling (NJACAC), the Overseas Association for College Admission Counseling (OACAC), and NAFSA: Association of International Educators, American Foreign Service Association (AFSA), and the Admissions Leadership Consortium (ALC).