Admissions Consultants

  • Admissions Consultants
    By CWK Network Producer

    “It really helped my confidence knowing that he was behind me.”
    -Allison, a student

    All over the nation, several million high school seniors are waiting to hear whether they’ve been accepted to college. Some may have improved their chances with the help of a professional who never existed before: a college consultant.

    Allison was accepted to a private school, and later the college of her choice, thanks in part to the expertise of George Kirkpatrick. As an educational consultant, Kirkpatrick found a school with the size, academic expectations and extracurricular activities that best matched Allison. Then, he taught her “how to market and sell myself,” Allison says.

    For a price, typically in the range of $1,500 to $4,000, educational consultants will advise a student on which schools to apply to, what questions to ask recruiters and how to write an admissions essay.

    “I sat down and wrote it, my parents looked over it, we sent it to Mr. Kirkpatrick. He really didn’t change very much,” Allison says.

    “I might make some suggestions to them as far as things they might attempt and then look ’em over and make some suggestions, but not as far as writing them; that’s their job,” Kirkpatrick says.

    While these consultants may have a student’s best interest at heart, critics worry that some of them try to make a student appear to be someone he or she is not.

    “[It’s] like a professionally polished image, like being a model; it’s not real,” says Dr. Sunaina Jain, a psychologist.

    Dr. Jain says that while a consultant may help a teen get into a good school, it might be the wrong school for that teen.

    “And if it is not a good match for [the student,] then it’s really a disservice, isn’t it?” Dr. Jain questions.

    On the other hand, Dr. Jain says that “there are experts who help you to determine what would be the best fit for your child; that’s a really good service.”

    Kirkpatrick says that’s his main goal as a consultant, and Allison agrees.

    “It worked; we found the right match, as far as schools go,” she says.

    Educational Consultants
    By CWK Network, Inc.

    Should your child use a professional consultant to help choose a preparatory school and to assist in applying to a college? The answer is maybe, if you can afford the cost. In a survey of more than 6,000 students currently attending top business colleges, 2.7%, or 163 students, said they used an educational consultant. Starting at $75 per hour, educational consultants offer advice on which schools to attend, provide tips on interviewing and critique admissions essays. Some students reported paying as much as $3,000 for the advice.

    For a smaller fee ($50), one online service offers a package of about 40 essays, to be used as examples only, written by applicants who have already been accepted into college. But parents should keep in mind that such services, which might seem to encourage cheating on an application, could backfire.

    “If the school feels any part of the application is not the student’s own work, they are immediately disqualified,” says Wharton College’s Director of Admissions Robert Alig.

    The consulting firm Admissions Consultants issues a similar warning:

    “We firmly believe you are taking a big chance if you submit a ‘canned’ essay written by someone else. The admissions committees are not naïve, and there is a very good chance that they will recognize that your essays were written by someone else. Remember, they review thousands of essays and are always on the lookout for canned essays. These same admissions committees often have far more applicants than they do openings. As a result, they are actively looking for reasons not to accept applicants when they undertake their first review of the applications received at each deadline. Suspicion that your essays were written by someone else is reason enough to be eliminated from consideration for admission.”

    What Parents Need to Know

    What benefits do professional consultants offer parents and their children? According to the IECA, consultants can be a “welcome resource” for families who may need more than school guidance counselors are able to provide them. Consultants also have expertise in advising students who have special needs, such as learning or physical disabilities.

    Below is a sampling of services that Admissions Consultants lists on its website:

    • Develops a personalized strategy based on the student’s unique background, strengths and weaknesses
    • Answers any questions the student may have, such as post-graduation employment opportunities
    • Selects the appropriate schools for the student
    • Advises the student on extracurricular activities
    • Provides guidance on letters of reference and helps the student draft these letters when the referees ask for them
    • Completes the applications
    • Prepares personal statements
    • Edits essays (Admissions Consultants says it will correct misplaced modifiers, split infinitives, etc., as well as provide a “10,000-foot” view of the essay and make sure it says what the admissions committee wants to hear and will maximize the student’s chances of gaining admission. Simply writing grammatically correct essays will not assure the student of gaining admission to a selective college or graduate program.)
    • Prepares résumés
    • Prepares for the student’s admissions interview

    How should parents prepare to choose an educational consultant? ThinkQuest offers the following advice:

    • Ask potential consultants in-depth questions about their background. Just because someone was a high school counselor doesn’t mean he or she ever assisted with higher-education planning.
    • Agree on pricing upfront. Expect to pay an hourly rate of about $75 to $200, or $1,200 to $2,500 total for a long-range plan from grade 10 until graduation.
    • Parents can refer to a list of consultants compiled by the IECA or the National Association for College Admission Counseling.


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    All over the nation, several million high school seniors are waiting to hear whether they’ve been accepted to college. Some may have improved their chances with the help of a professional who never existed before: a college consultant.

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