What to Look for When Seeking a College Counselor

When seeking out a college counselor to assist your son or daughter through the college process, you want to consider the following:

  1. How many years have they worked within the field as an established college counselor?
    Ask for a résumé to review academic backgrounds (M. Ed or master’s in counseling) and the number of positions a counselor or counselors in a company have held (high schools or programs, and the number of years of overall professional experience). Review the number of years of admission experience and the colleges or universities within the college admissions field.
  1. When reviewing a counseling company, what is the turnover in counseling staff?
    You want one consistent counselor is working with your son or daughter throughout the process. If the counselors within the company are leaving frequently, this can cause more harm as each new counselor assigned does not know your child or their needs, and spends their time and your child’s time to “get up to speed.”
  1. Where have students been accepted?
    Request a list of colleges and universities where students were accepted within the past two years.  Also, ask for the number of students the counselor or company has worked with that have been deferred, waitlisted, or denied.
  1. What professional organizations or memberships do they hold?
    It is essential to review the counselor’s or counseling company’s memberships as the organizations help with professional development within the college counseling field. Especially ask if they are members of NACAC (National Association of College Admissions Counseling), the state’s Higher Education WCAC (Western Association for College & Admissions Counseling), and the ACA (American Counselors Association). A good counselor or company will be upfront with providing all the information for review of academic credentials, making the public aware of all the memberships they are a part of, and having the information stated within the materials provided or displayed right on their website.
  2. Reputation
    Check online reviews and the state’s division of Higher Education (Department of Education within one’s state) for critical comments or documented ongoing issues with the services provided by the counselor or company regarding service, follow up, overcharging, or overall customer service.

There are many independent college counselors and college counseling companies out there who want your business. Go beyond their marketing material, ask tough questions, and make them prove they’re going to serve your son or daughter well.