Notwithstanding the bad publicity that the recent college admissions scandal and Rick Singer have brought to the industry, I believe hiring a college consultant can be a wise move and money well spent for the right family. Most college consultants are good, caring people who run their businesses on the up and up. Like every other business, there are crooks like Singer, but don’t let the crooks cloud your vision of what a good college consultant can provide to your family. Here are some reasons why I think you should look hard at hiring a college consultant if you have kids in high school (or even younger):
- They are your kids, not your clients: Getting through the high school years while maintaining a good relationship with your own children is a high accomplishment. The more you helicopter your child’s college search and application process, the less likely you will maintain a good relationship with them. There are so many conflicting intellectual and hormonal issues involved with kids and their college choices, why would you want to add to them by involving yourself? Why not just delegate that process to a professional and keep on with your own life? Pay the consultant, and tell them to let you know what the result is. Hands Off might be the best strategy for maintaining a good parent/child relationship.
- You will pay, but how much is it worth to you? According to eadmit.me, college consultants cost up to $6,000 for a package deal or $200 on an hourly basis. If you want, you can probably spend a lot more than $6,000 depending on how complete a service you want your consultant to provide. For instance, do you want a consultant just to discuss where to apply? Or do you want them to work directly with your child on their essays, as well as the timing of when each application needs to be submitted? And how far in advance of the child’s Senior year do you want the consultant to become involved? These are questions that you need to ask yourself. The more the consultant is involved, the more you pay, but the less headache you will have, at least that is the hope.
- The decisions that your child and the consultant reach will be just fine. You may view your child to be a good fit at a particular college, but the consultant may (probably will) view them in a totally different setting. Accept that you won’t have complete control – you certainly won’t a few months thereafter when the kid goes to college – and move on, while hopefully keeping a close relationship with your child.
- High school kids, particularly Juniors and Seniors, don’t want to confide in or with their parents. They are much more likely to confide in or with a college consultant that they trust. As a result, it is more likely that they together will make a better college decision than you will with your child. It is likely to be more objective and rational, to the extent that is possible with high schoolers.
For those of you who are contemplating sending a child to an expensive private college that could cost maybe $300,000 fully loaded if you are paying retail with no financial aid, spending an additional $6,000 or even $10,000 at the front end in an attempt to get it right is to me money well spent. If you are thinking of a less-costly state school, it is still probably money well spent because of all the hoops and all of the different deadlines one faces while applying to your local State U. Unless you have an ultra-mature and ultra-focused high school child who really knows what they want and is completely on top of the process themselves, it is wise to at least have a discussion with a college consultant. How do you avoid hiring a crook like Rick Singer? Talk to other parents, and ask about their experiences. You will likely find that there are a number of good consultants who are familiar with your kids’ school and will be of great help to you and your child as they strategize for their next great adventure.