In this post, we’ll continue discussing whether you should hire a college admissions consultant. College admissions consultants help students in a variety of ways. They can be a valuable resource for high school students as they begin to make a list of prospective colleges. In addition, they can help students navigate the often-confusing college admissions process and provide guidance on choosing the right schools to apply to.
Help Make a Realistic College List
A college admissions consultant educates students to understand the different types of colleges. For example, many students do not realize there are many kinds of colleges: liberal arts colleges, research universities, and technical colleges, to name a few. Each university type comes with unique strengths and weaknesses. A consultant can help students understand the differences between these colleges and the advantages they offer the student. This can be a valuable resource when making a list of prospective colleges.
Finally, consultants can help students tally up the cost of college. The financial aspect of college can’t or shouldn’t be ignored. They can assist students in understanding the cost of attending different colleges and the types of financial aid and scholarships available. However, while most college consultants have a cursory understanding of financial aid, most aren’t financial aid specialists. A reliable professional will tell you what they can or cannot assist with regarding a student’s financial aid. Most, however, have a network of contacts they work with they can refer to their parents.
Show Students How To Write College Application Essay
College application essays are crucial in admissions. The essay’s strength lies in the reality that the essay is under a student’s control. The personal statement of the common app essay illustrates this perfectly. This essay allows students to showcase their personalities, writing skills, and interests to admissions committees. In addition, essays provide a platform for applicants to distinguish themselves from other applicants who may have similar grades and test scores.
The essay also highlights students’ unique experiences, perspectives, and motivations. Students can draw a personal glimpse into their lives and what they have to offer to the college community through their writing. The essay allows students to express themselves and gives the admissions committee an idea of who the student is beyond the numbers and data presented in their application. Investing time and effort in creating well-written, thoughtful, and compelling college application essays can significantly impact the competitive college admissions process.
Here’s how admissions consultants help students with their college application essays:
- Guide essay topics and format.
- Review and offer feedback on drafts.
- Share tried and true tips to make essays stand out to admission committees.
- Empower students to highlight their unique experiences and perspectives.
- Clarify and strengthen the overall message of the essay.
Admissions counselors typically approach these essays from a wealth of experience. They know what works, which stories are overused, and how to showcase a student’s strengths tastefully. On a personal note, the essay is one of my favorite facets of the admissions process. When I help students outline their essays, revise them, and encourage them to change the occasional word or awkward phrase, they are proud of their work. It’s a decisive moment to see students realize their lives are exciting and that the stories they can tell are worth sharing.
Create a Passion Project for College Admission Applications
A college admissions passion project is designed to differentiate students from other applicants. A consultant with experience helping students develop projects can make all the difference. So why does it benefit high school students to make it?
Imagine you have two students who look the same on paper. They share the same GPA, SAT/ACT Test Scores, AP classes, etc. They even attend the same high school. To drill this point home even further, let’s assume they share the same gender, race, and age and qualify for the same amount of financial aid. Finally, let’s make another assumption: they both apply to the same competitive college. That college will likely accept one student from their high school, not both. So, how would an admissions officer choose which student to let in?
That’s where a passion project comes in. Competitive colleges want to recruit students who will make an impact. They want the next J.K. Rowling, Bill Gates, Stephen King, Michelle Obama, Emma Watson, and Jeff Bezos. Essentially, they want students who will change the world. So, what would you look for in a student’s application if you were an admissions officer at a competitive college?
Colleges want students who are already making a difference. A passion project shows how a student is making an impact. Admissions consultants can guide students in picking a project that interests them, capitalize sizes on their strengths, and can make an impact.
Impactful passion projects must show three things:
- Intellectual curiosity
- Unique Expertise
- Traceable Impact
Each ingredient is nonnegotiable, at least if you want your project to be memorable. The first point, intellectual curiosity, means that some deep research must have gone into your project. There must be some academic angle to it, no matter how small.
For example, one student I worked with had an interest in nursing. This student was also an enormous fitness enthusiast. When brainstorming ideas on projects they could do, they asked if they could make their project a series of workout guides. I urged them to reconsider this because simple gym guides needed to be more intellectual, no matter how helpful. However, after doing some research, we discovered a study that showed that most nurses in the US were unhealthy. So, we settled on creating a database of guides and tips on how nurses can stay healthy. This student had experience editing videos, so they made most of their guides in video form.
Another student I worked with created a website and a pdf guide on how Muslim athletes can stay active in their sports while fasting during Ramadan. One student coded a biomedical app that can detect early signs of anemia. You can get as ambitious as you want with the project. They all have in common that they showcase the big three I mentioned before:
- Intellectual curiosity
- Unique Expertise
- Traceable Impact
Without fail, every student I’ve advised that has gotten into an Ivy League has had a project. Furthermore, these projects are also awe-inspiring to scholarship committees as well. A passion project is necessary if you want entrance into competitive schools or scholarships to pay for a good state school. While a student can do this independently, a college admissions consultant will ensure their efforts are optimized. For more information on creating impactful passion projects, read our guide on “How to get into the Ivy League” article.
Complete the Common App
Another critical aspect of college admissions is the application process. Most colleges accept digital application platforms like the Common App College. An admissions consultant helps students understand what information to include in their applications and how to present themselves in the most favorable light. Additionally, there’s an ocean of forms to fill out through this process. Having an experienced admissions officer help coordinate that paperwork can simplify the process.
For example, look below at the general tasks required to apply to college:
Sample Common Application Task Analysis
Adapted from the common application website
- Gather Materials
- A copy of your high school transcript
- A list of your activities, work, and family responsibilities
- Test scores and dates from your college entrance exams (SATs, ACTs, etc.)
- Parent/Legal guardian information
- Academic honors and achievements
- Create an account on the Common Application Website
- Create an online account using credentials outlined by your high school guidance counselor
- Generate Login Credentials
- Complete Registration Information
- Add Colleges
- Add the school’s name to your list of colleges
- Plan to Write Supplemental Essays
- Engage Supporters
- Other Recommenders
- Understanding Requirements
- Application Fees
- Personal Essay
- Courses & Grades
- Test Policy
- Writing Supplements
- Plan and Write Essays
- Common App Personal Essay
- College-specific questions
- Writing supplements
- Submit College Application
Did you bother to read all that? If you even read half of it, you see the administrative nightmare completing the common application is. For a teenager in the middle of the school year, while taking their most complex classes, it’s a challenge. Typically, each consultant has a procedure system that ensures each step and task is completed. And yes, while parents and students can TECHNICALLY do this themselves, it helps to have someone familiar with the process assisting you. They can also help students with their essays, guiding compelling writing essays that will stand out to admissions officers.
Show High School Students Their Career Aptitude and Plan for Their Career
The final point is arguably the most important. Admissions consultants or counselors possess an ethical obligation to help students ensure that they’re successful beyond graduation. To do that, consultants use advanced aptitude tests to help students match their inborn talents to potential careers. This is a vital step in the college admissions process. College should launch a student’s career. However, many students graduate college feeling like they wasted their time because of how directionless they feel upon graduating. The sad thing about this tragedy is that it’s usually preventable.
Please understand that I deeply respect the students and parents I work with. While each is different and has unique challenges to overcome, they are all great kids. So, when you read what I’m about to write, please know that I don’t say this lightly.
Most students give more thought to what they’ll wear to prom than what career they’ll pursue. Again, I don’t say that with any disrespect. I work with incredibly talented kids. It’s just a fact I’ve observed. With that said, this isn’t the student’s fault. The high school students I work with are typically well-organized, motivated, bright, and disciplined. And they have to be. They take challenging classes, study hard for the SAT or the ACT, and engage in challenging activities. No wonder they haven’t had the time to devote to researching their career.
Yet, neglecting to spend time on strategic career preparation risks much. Again, college should propel students toward their dream job. And this can happen, but going to college hardly guarantees a meaningful or lucrative career, much less a sure path to your dream job. That golden opportunity can only be gained when a student has prepared enough to seize it.
However, a college admissions consultant can help with this, depending on the consultant. While each consultant may have unique niches and specialties, many use various career assessments to aid students in picking their major. A few, however, are certified to administer advanced aptitude assessments. These can be incredibly helpful in helping students select a career that harmonizes with their natural talents, interests, and skills.
We’ve written much on using aptitude tests to help students reliably pick their college major. And with good reason. Aptitude tests are the unsung hero of college admissions and career planning. With an aptitude test, a high school student can gain data-driven insight into the tasks they naturally excel in. However, I would recommend going through a certified aptitude testing specialist over going to an aptitude test research center (such as the Johnson O’Connor or AIMS aptitude test. While these institutions provide excellent resources,  working with a college consultant who specializes in aptitude testing is preferable. This way, you know you’ll be working with a consultant with experience in using aptitude tests as part of the college admissions process.
Summary of What College Admissions Consultants Do
In conclusion, college admissions consultants can be a valuable resource for high school students as they list prospective colleges. They can help students understand their strengths and weaknesses, navigate the application process, understand the different types of colleges and what each has to offer, and understand the financial aspect of college. With the help of a professional, students can confidently apply to college.
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 Nurses’ lifestyle behaviours, health priorities and barriers to living a healthy lifestyle: a qualitative descriptive study. – accessed at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4264254/ on 30 January 2023.
 Application guide for first-year students. – Common App, accessed at https://www.commonapp.org/apply/first-year-students on 30 January 2023.
 The Cost of Changing a College Major – Odyssey College Prep, accessed at /the-cost-of-changing-a-college-major/ on 30 January 2023.
 A Practical Guide To Using Your Aptitudes – Johnson O’Connor Research Foundation, accessed at https://www.jocrf.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/JOCRF-Choosing-Intelligently.pdf on 30 January 2023.
 News & Resources — AIMS – AIMS, accessed at https://www.aimstesting.org/news-resources on 30 January 2023.