Admissions Counselor

Navigating the college admissions process can feel confusing, overwhelming, and almost impossible. College admissions counselors can serve as the compass that guides your child during this challenging stage in their high school career. Unlike school counselors, admissions counselors specialize solely in the admissions process.

They offer personalized attention, strategic advice, and insights into college admissions trends and expectations. However, their expertise comes at a cost, which leads many to wonder if investing in college admissions counselors is worthwhile.

What’s the Point of an Admissions Counselor?

College admissions counselors are your child’s guide during the college admissions process. They help your child research potential college options, create and narrow their list based on interests, explore funding options, and more. Their guidance and support can help reduce the stress your child may feel during the application process.

Depending on when your child begins working with a counselor, they may also help your child determine which and how many AP classes to take. They can help your child identify possible volunteer activities and summer programs that could improve their resume. These counselors strive to help your child maximize their high school years to improve their chances of being accepted into their dream school.

Is a College Counselor the Same as a School Counselor?

Although college admissions counselors and school counselors share some overlapping duties, they’re not the same.

School counselors can help your child choose high school courses, offer academic advice, send official transcripts to colleges on your child’s behalf, and more. If your child feels they need additional support preparing for the SAT or ACT, school counselors can help point them in the right direction. They’re an excellent on-site resource your child should utilize throughout their high school years.

School counselors are a great starting point; however, they may not be able to provide the in-depth support your child needs. In addition to helping other students prepare for college, they may also act as an AP coordinator, personal advisor, and academic advisor. As a result, the time they have with your child is often limited.

College admissions counselors offer a more specialized set of services. They’re experts in the college admissions process and know what it takes to help your child create a strong application package. Since they deal with a smaller group of students than school counselors, they can dedicate more time and attention to your child.

This extra guidance, feedback, and support can help your child maximize their chances of being accepted into their dream school.

When Should You Start College Counseling?

In a perfect world, we’d recommend every student start college counseling at the start of their freshman year. This would allow your child extra time to take AP classes, participate in volunteer opportunities, and begin their own passion project. However, we understand this isn’t always possible.

As such, we recommend starting college counseling as soon as possible. Since the college application process is complex and ever-changing, working with an expert can help keep your child on the right track.

Freshman Year

This is an excellent time for your child and their counselor to get to know each other. Your child can discuss their interests, any passion projects they may work on outside of school, or how they imagine life after high school. If your child isn’t sure what they want to do after graduation, that’s fine too.

Working with a college counselor during freshman year can help your child begin thinking about potential career paths. At this stage, your child doesn’t need a list of dream schools. This will mostly be a time of reflection and discovery.

During this year, the advisor may recommend your child take advanced classes, participate in extracurricular activities, or enroll in summer programs.

Sophomore Year

If this is your child’s first time working with a counselor, they can use this time to begin exploring their interests and vision for life after high school. If your child worked with a counselor the previous year, they should have a better idea of which career paths interest them.

At this stage, students are digging deeper into their career goals. They’re exploring potential college options and creating a list of schools that may interest them. They’ll narrow this list with their admissions counselor over the next year, so it’s okay if they haven’t made a final decision yet.

If your child hasn’t enrolled in AP classes or participated in extracurriculars, their counselor may encourage them to start. They may also encourage your child to begin touring the campuses of some colleges on their list over the summer.

During this time, your child should decide whether they plan to take the SAT® or ACT®. If possible, enroll them in a summer prep program so they can focus solely on test prep.

Junior Year

Junior year is when the heavy lifting begins.

In the fall, your child should meet regularly with their counselor to narrow their college list and start thinking about their personal statements. Although students won’t begin writing their essays until spring or summer, it’s a good idea to start generating ideas early on. While this is happening, your child should register for the SAT or ACT and start test prep if they haven’t already.

Once they take their test, they can discuss when they want to apply for college. They have the option to apply through early decision, early action, or regular decision.

Your child doesn’t have to decide now; however, discussing their options during junior year can help them better prepare for upcoming deadlines.

During the spring, your child will receive their standardized test score. They can speak with their counselor to determine whether they should retake the exam to earn a more competitive score. Their counselor may also encourage them to begin requesting recommendation letters for their application package.

If your child needs to retake their standardized test, their counselor may advise taking it over the summer rather than waiting until fall.

Starting in the spring and throughout the summer, your child will work on college application essays. Their counselor will help them identify unique topics and stories that highlight their strengths as an applicant. Participating in a college essay writing program can help students throughout the essay planning, drafting, revising, and polishing process, ensuring that your child has several personal statements ready to submit to colleges in the fall.

Senior Year

If they haven’t already, your child should finalize their SAT or ACT score in the fall. This is their last chance to have their scores submitted in time to begin college the following year.

During the fall, your child should research and speak with their counselor about scholarship options. The counselor may have insight into additional resources you and your child have yet to consider. your child should use this time to apply for as many scholarships as possible.

Your child should also discuss the pros and cons of applying through early decision or early action with their counselor. This will determine how soon they should finalize their essays and submit their applications. If your child applies through these options, they should know whether they’ve been accepted by winter.

In winter, if your child applies through regular decision, they should work with their counselor to finalize their essay and application.

Once spring arrives, your child should know the status of their applications. Then they can then make their final decision.

Is a College Admissions Counselor Worth It?

Deciding whether a college admissions counselor is worth the investment is a personal decision. However, leveraging a counselor’s expertise can give your child the best chance of acceptance into their dream school. It can also alleviate stress associated with college admissions by providing guidance and structure.

Admissions counselors help the process feel less overwhelming so your child can focus on their studies and enjoy their final years of high school. While working with a counselor doesn’t guarantee acceptance into a particular school, it can provide your child with the support and resources they need to put together a strong application package.

College counseling is an investment in your child’s future success. Ready to get started? Call us at (855) 646-1490 or find a C2 location near you!