Written by Cassie Bond
With seniors eagerly waiting to hear back from the colleges they have applied to, college applications, SATs and essays are a common topic of discussion. Some students choose to use a private college counselor, while others work independently. Although private college counselors can have a negative connotation as being excessive or unnecessary, their overall aid and support is necessary for certain students. Private college counselors are beneficial because they help organize the college process into an easier-to-grasp effort, ease the stress of college applications and are useful to students looking to study specific programs or majors. e college application process is difficult and strenuous, so seeking and receiving help should be an acceptable option for all students.
One of the major benefits of a college counselor is the help in organizing and deciding on a plan for college applications and where to apply. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), there are over 4,000 colleges in the U.S. With so many options, private college counselors can greatly help students narrow down their lists of schools and pinpoint schools that would best t their personality and goals. e NCES also attests that from 1980 to 2012, the number of college applicants ages 18 to 24 increased from 26 percent to 41 percent. is substantial increase in college applicants makes applications more competitive. To stay ahead in a system where the odds are seemingly stacked against students, a college counselor can be necessary. Organizing a list of schools that t the student well, picking essay topics and talking through confusing scholarships or honors programs are all key benefits to having a college counselor. Although some are able to figure out and organize their college process on their own, plenty of students who need the added guidance. Just as one might need a tutor for a difficult math class, one might also need a college counselor for the difficult college process.
Along with organizing and making decisions, college counselors can also help ease the stress of an already demanding time of the school year. e common stresses of high school are already an issue, and with the added stress of applications, having a “partner-in-crime” can help take away some of the anxiety involved in the process. Since mental health is one of the most important aspects of a high schooler’s life, receiving help is essential to keeping a level head. Although there are plenty of resources on campus for college assistance, a private college counselor who knows the ins and outs of all of a student’s choices might be more beneficial. A private counselor also provides more one- on-one attention, giving him or her the chance to know their students well and help them to the best of their abilities.
A common criticism of private college counselors is pricing and the amount of involvement in the process. While money can be a concern, pricing of sessions and time with counselors all depends on what the student is looking for. Some counselors only specialize in helping with essays, while others will help form a list of schools. If finding a full-time counselor is not in a family’s budget, one of those options may be better. But, if a student is struggling and needs the extra support, sometimes budgeting for a private counselor could be worth it.
Another concern with college counselors is credibility and the amount of genuine work put into students’ essays and applications. Although some people do choose to have college counselors put in more work for their personal applications than should be acceptable, most counselors only provide the support that can get students engaged in the college process. Just beginning the process can be complicated, so families finding someone to nudge their students in the right direction is one of the main purposes of college counselors. Instead of private college counsel- ors being associated with wealthy families paying to have the work completed by the counselor, it should be thought of as a resource that is there for students who need an extra push of support.