How to Find the Best College Admissions Counselors

Finding the best college admissions counselor can be a daunting task, but there are a few key things you can look for to ensure you find the right fit. Here are some tips:

1. Look for experience:

Choose a counselor who has years of experience working with students in the college admissions process. Ask for references and read online reviews to get a sense of their track record.

2. Check credentials:

Make sure the counselor has the appropriate credentials, such as membership in the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC).

3. Seek specialization:

Find a counselor who specializes in your particular needs, whether it’s essay writing, athletic recruiting, or transfer admissions.

4. Consider availability:

Ensure the counselor has the availability to meet with you on a regular basis throughout the admissions process.

5. Review communication style:

Choose a counselor whose communication style matches your preferences, whether that’s in-person meetings, phone calls, or email correspondence.

6. Assess fees:

Make sure you understand the counselor’s fees and services, including any potential additional costs for services like essay editing.

7. Trust your gut:

Ultimately, you want to find a counselor who you feel comfortable working with and who you trust to guide you through the admissions process. Trust your instincts when making your decision.

What Are the Different Types of Admissions Consultants?

There are various types of admissions consultants who specialize in different areas of the college admissions process. Here are some common types of admissions consultants:

1. General College Admissions Consultants:

These consultants provide comprehensive guidance throughout the entire college admissions process, including selecting schools, crafting application materials, and preparing for interviews.

2. Essay Consultants:

These consultants focus specifically on helping students craft compelling essays for their college applications. They provide feedback, editing, and guidance to help students create strong and impactful essays.

3. Test Prep Consultants:

These consultants specialize in preparing students for standardized tests such as the SAT, ACT, and SAT Subject Tests. They provide coaching, strategies, and resources to help students perform their best on these exams.

4. Athletic Recruiting Consultants:

These consultants work with student-athletes who are seeking to be recruited by college sports programs. They provide guidance on the recruiting process, including creating a sports resume, contacting coaches, and navigating NCAA rules.

5. Transfer Admissions Consultants:

These consultants focus on assisting students who are looking to transfer from one college to another. They provide guidance on selecting target schools, preparing application materials, and navigating the transfer admissions process.

6. International Admissions Consultants:

These consultants specialize in assisting international students with the college admissions process, including selecting schools, navigating visa requirements, and understanding the unique challenges and opportunities for international applicants.

7. Specialized Admissions Consultants:

There are also specialized consultants who focus on specific fields such as arts, music, or STEM, and provide tailored guidance for students pursuing those areas of study.

It's important to research and choose the type of admissions consultant that aligns with your specific needs and goals in the college admissions process.

When Should I Start Working With an Admissions Consultant?

You should start working with an admissions consultant when you feel like you need additional guidance and support with the college admissions process. Some students start working with consultants as early as their freshman or sophomore year of high school, while others start closer to their senior year. It ultimately depends on your individual needs and goals. Keep in mind that admissions consultants can help with a variety of tasks, including creating a college list, developing a strong application strategy, and providing essay feedback.

How Consultants Can Help You Early in High School

Admissions consultants can provide valuable guidance and support for high school students early in their high school years. Here are some ways consultants can help:

1. Academic planning:

Admissions consultants can help you plan your high school curriculum to align with your college goals. They can provide advice on choosing the right classes, identifying opportunities for academic enrichment, and creating a roadmap to meet college admission requirements.

2. Extracurricular activities:

Consultants can help you strategically choose extracurricular activities that align with your interests, passions, and college goals. They can provide guidance on how to make the most of your extracurricular activities to stand out in college applications.

3. Summer programs and internships:

Admissions consultants can provide recommendations and guidance on summer programs, internships, and other enrichment opportunities that can help you build your skills, knowledge, and experiences, and enhance your college application.

4. Standardized testing:

Consultants can help you create a standardized testing plan, including when to take the SAT or ACT, how to prepare effectively, and how to interpret your test scores in the context of your college goals.

5. College research:

Consultants can help you identify and research potential colleges that align with your interests, goals, and preferences. They can provide guidance on factors to consider, such as college size, location, programs, and culture.

6. Goal setting:

Consultants can help you set realistic goals for your college admissions process, including developing a timeline and action plan to achieve those goals. They can provide guidance on how to stay organized and focused throughout the high school years.

7. Personal development:

Consultants can help you identify and develop your strengths, interests, and values, which can inform your college choices and strengthen your application. They can provide guidance on personal development strategies, such as leadership opportunities, community involvement, and self-reflection.

Remember that each student's needs and goals are unique, and the level of involvement of an admissions consultant may vary. It's important to work with a reputable and experienced consultant who can provide personalized guidance and support tailored to your individual needs and aspirations.

Which Type of Consultant Is Best for You?

The type of college admissions consultant that is best for you depends on your specific needs, goals, and preferences. Here are some common types of consultants to consider:

1. Independent Educational Consultants (IECs):

These are private consultants who work independently and are not affiliated with any particular school or organization. They typically provide personalized guidance and support throughout the entire college admissions process, from high school planning to college selection, application preparation, essay coaching, and more. IECs often have extensive experience and knowledge of the college admissions landscape and can provide individualized advice tailored to your needs.

2. School-Based Counselors:

These are counselors who work within your high school or educational institution. They can provide guidance on academic planning, course selection, standardized testing, and college applications. While they may have limited time and resources to devote solely to college admissions, they can still offer valuable insights and support, especially in the context of your specific school and its policies.

3. Pro Bono Counselors:

These are counselors who provide free or low-cost services to students in need. They may be affiliated with non-profit organizations, community-based programs, or volunteer groups. Pro bono counselors can offer valuable guidance and support to students who may not have the financial means to access traditional paid consulting services.

4. Test Prep Companies:

Some test prep companies also offer college admissions consulting services as part of their package. These services may focus on test preparation, but may also include guidance on college selection, application strategies, and essay coaching.

5. Specialty Consultants:

There are also specialized consultants who focus on specific areas of college admissions, such as athletic recruitment, performing arts, or international students. These consultants can provide expertise in their specific area of focus and help students navigate unique aspects of the college admissions process.

It's important to carefully research and consider the credentials, experience, reputation, and cost of different types of consultants to determine which one may be the best fit for your needs. Keep in mind that working with a consultant is not mandatory for the college admissions process, and many students successfully navigate the process without one. Ultimately, the best consultant for you will depend on your individual needs, goals, and budget.


Aspiring college students can benefit from working with admissions consultants who can provide guidance and support throughout the college application process. There are different types of consultants, each with their own focus areas and specialties, so it's important to do research and find one that best fits your needs. Consultants can help at any point in high school, whether it's planning your coursework, preparing for standardized tests, or selecting colleges to apply to. Ultimately, the goal of working with an admissions consultant is to increase your chances of getting accepted to the colleges of your choice.