In the US, the national student-counselor ratio is 350:1. That means, 350 students, end up consulting a career counselor each year!
No matter which region of the world one is from, applying to colleges is mostly about the numbers. But due to the ongoing COVID pandemic, college and university acceptance rates are going down…even further below than they already were. For instance, Harvard, among almost all other Ivy League institutions, lowered its acceptance rate to 7.4% from 13.9% last year.
We live in a world not only battling with COVID for the past 19 months now but with excessive numbers of applicants applying to colleges and universities everywhere. That means the competition is tougher than ever. As such, application processes have also become all the more daunting.
When should a student start looking for universities? Which field should one opt for and why? How does one fill out an application form? What is the Common Application essay? What documents does a student need to submit? How much time will it all take? How much will it cost? Which fields to apply to?
These are just some of the questions overwhelming every student and his/her parents alike before moving to the next step after college. The tip of the iceberg. And then there is the added complication of technology these days. Even before COVID, manual work was almost entirely shifting towards the technical.
But COVID increased the pace as well as the need for manual work to be digitized. Now, there are apps for everything. Even to keep up with admission deadlines, one has to immerse themselves in one form of technology or the other. Some students might be comfortable and even used to referring to an app for everything, for instance. But many still are not.
This is where a college career consultant comes in to save the day…or rather, every applicant’s day out there.
Interesting read: Applying somewhere this year? Find out important facts and figures about acceptance rates, waitlists, and admission procedures for this year.
Note: College career counselors offer consultation regarding the kind of career one wishes to pursue. However, it all starts with getting admission to the right institution. Therefore, the following reasons are listed for why college career consulting is an important focus on admission consultation. Receiving the right kind of admission consultation is in itself a step towards career consultation.
College career consultants – Who are they?
A college consultant is also referred to as a college coach, or more commonly, a college counselor. They not only guide students in regards to which career options are most lucrative for them. But they also help in:
- Informing and guiding students (and their families) about admission processes and requirements.
- Assisting students with the completion of documents.
- Guiding students in composing application essays, statements of purpose, etc.
- Conducting meetings and visits with desired institutions.
- Guiding students and their families in the financial processes of admissions (setting up a bank account in case of international institutions, for instance).
- Identifying which career fields a student should apply to, after evaluating students’ interests (among other things).
Independent vs school counselors
Counselors can be of two main kinds, depending on where and how they work.
School or high-school counselors: These are counselors present on school or college premises. Every school or college has at least one of them. They are a valuable asset for such institutions, for they help students with:
- Narrowing down which colleges to apply to
- Remaining a top student in light of graduation requirements
- Obtaining letters of recommendation from school teachers
- Writing letters of recommendation from different school bodies
- Sending official transcript to different institutions
- Deciding on extracurricular activities that might increase chances of acceptance
- Finding and/or apply to local scholarships
- Completing and sending your final applications
Independent Counselors: Some schools might not have an on-site counselor. In such a case, an independent counselor is referred to. However, if your school does have an on-site counselor available, an independent works alongside them.
Both have their pros and cons. For instance, it’s very convenient to refer to a college counselor who is always available on site. Furthermore, they can guide students in more than one college’s admission process. But independent counselors work as counselors full time and tend to get lesser students. Consequently, they devote more time to each of those students.
Did you know: Students whose parents did not attend a formal bachelor’s degree are called first-generation college students. And statistics have a whole different story to tell about such students, as compared to students whose parents did receive a bachelor’s degree.
Importance of college consulting
Reduced acceptance rates are not the only reason to go for a college consultant. Below we list 5 major reasons why college consulting is important in today’s demanding world.
Reason # 1 – It reduces stress
This reason will be listed in every blog you check out; every journal or survey you review; every university website you browse through. And basically on everyone’s lips these days too. Now more than ever. We have always lived in troubled times. However, thanks to COVID, unstable economy, and higher applications each year, institutions have made everything difficult.
From the littlest of details to complicated ones, everything within the admission process is tricky, time-consuming, exhaustive, and most of all, stressful. Students have a deadline to apply within. Sometimes, websites don’t always have everything listed, either. There isn’t enough time to sit around and wait for institutions to respond to emails and online queries etc.
Such delays, with a ticking clock, begin the stress cycle. Then come to the applications; the rush to meet deadlines; lack of cooperation from certain people, such as school teachers, in preparing required documents; the financial aspects; which institution is best for desired career fields. The list goes on and on.
Not just students, but their families and/or friends are also under a lot of stress during this whole process. College consulting can greatly reduce stress caused by all these factors. Whether they are involved in application processes directly or indirectly, college consultants are there to calm students’ and families’ nerves.
That is the most important reason to go for college consulting. It is very important to reduce the stress that comes during those initial months. Once the admission process has been set into motion and you feel you’re out of the stress zone, you can focus better on other admission tasks.
Colleges have a thorough, step-by-step process of how their consultants will relieve students’ stress precisely. There are meetings, therapy sessions, group discussions, and a lot more.
Reason # 2 Consultants know students personally
Students have one-on-one sessions with college consultants. As a result, the consultant not only figures out what the students desire to learn and where but also identifies students’ main strengths and weaknesses. This is very beneficial for the student in the long run because as a student, you can’t always know everything.
A counselor is way more knowledgeable and experienced in things like knowing which institutions are best to apply to, which fields to go into, etc. However, if it so happens that your dream school is way out of your league—due to financial, academic, or other reasons—a counselor will be in the position to recommend other institutions.
Furthermore, consultants help students make the most of their fields of interest, strengths, and weaknesses in college essays, in ways they know will up the students’ chances of getting accepted.
So, it’s not just about the numbers; the numbers behind acceptance rates, financial costs, deadlines, so on and so forth. It’s about quality, too. And that goes both ways, quality of not just admission essays and other such details, but also the quality of consultation being received. And that, in turn, depends on an awful lot on how well the consultant knows the student personally.
Reason # 3 – Guidance counselors can’t always help
It’s great if you have a guidance counselor at the end of the hallway at college. However, guidance counselors don’t always have the time and resources to cater to every student’s needs. And most colleges will have only one or two guidance counselors on site.
So, who to turn to in such instances?
A college consultant not only helps find the best career options and how to avail those options but is also the appropriate professional to go to in such situations. A guidance counselor can help alleviate academic stress at best. Prescribe some medication, when necessary. Recommend ways to cope up with daily life and keep grades up at the same time. They might even guide you towards the institution they find will be the best fit for you after college.
But then what? Who will help students find their deepest passion? The career that will be the perfect fit for them? The process to apply to that institution? A college consultant, once again, saves the day!
Reason # 4 – It saves extra costs
Many wrongly presume that working with a college consultant is going to be costly. However, consider two scenarios.
Which is worse: spending a lot of time, effort, and energy looking into high paying professions 5 years from now and then finding which institution is best for that profession? Or working with a college consultant; paying them their required fee; spending less time and effort into application processes but getting into the right career and institution by the end of it?
A 2015 study by the National Student Clearinghouse Center discovered 37.2% of freshmen who started their college careers in 2008 transferred to other institutions. Half of that population ended up changing colleges a second time. That extended the time till they graduated, resulting in lost credit hours and added expenses. These students did not avail the benefits of college consulting.
Therefore, In the long run, college consulting is worth all the costs it might come with. By paying consultants their fees in the beginning, you can save yourself a lot of time that might be wasted later. Besides, that’s what these professionals are there for in the first place, aren’t they? To make students’ work easier.
Reason # 5 – It helps in professional development in later stages
Students’ confidence can build can up as they work with their college consultants. They can learn valuable skills during this experience. Skills they will probably be needing later for their professions, such as resume building. Organizational and time management skills are just the start of that list.
Consulting with college counselors can help students see how to navigate through abundant data; how to organize schedules, timetables, meetings, etc; how to work on negotiation skills, and so on.
All-in-all, working with a college consultant can help build a multitude of personal as well as professional skills that will come in handy later.
How to find the perfect college consultant
A college consultant sticks with students not just at the beginning, but during and sometimes even after the process of application. Therefore, it’s important to work with the right fit. A couple of things need to be considered while searching for the perfect college consultant. You can start by:
- Searching for your dream school’s consultant firm (if they have any).
- Asking questions related to things like past experiences and the number of students the counselor has gotten admitted in institutions.
- Making sure they have enough knowledge about your field(s) of interest.
- Searching for more counselors to identify which fits your needs best.
Deciding on the type of college consulting service (private or on-site college consultant) is also very important.
Due to the increased demand for professional and technical skills in job markets, students continue to aim higher for quality education. Consequently, institutions are witnessing a large volume of admissions. That, coupled with COVID and its effects on every sphere of life, acceptance rates are not just declining. But the admission processes themselves are getting trickier.
The sooner students receive guidance, the better. It can save up a lot of their time, effort, and ensure they secure a spot in some institution or the other. The benefits of college consulting far, far outweigh its costs.
College, as well as private or independent college consultants, are greatly sought-after today. The reasons college consulting is important for students is because consultants help alleviate the stress of application procedures, enable students to make the most out of their strengths while applying, offer the appropriate guidance, and help in developing professional and personal skills useful in students’ professions later on.
Different colleges and universities have policies and procedures in place to ensure their students receive the best quality college consultation. There are certain qualities a college consultant ought to have, to ensure students are aided not just before but during and after college applications, too.
Before selecting a college consultant, some factors about the consultant need to be considered. They should meet students’ needs from the beginning till the end. It’s an overwhelming and tricky process, but with the help of college consulting, it can become easier, less stressful, and time-consuming.