When students are working so hard to get good grades, participate in extracurricular activities, and study for the SATs, it's often hard to step back and get a realistic perspective on college planning. They often forget that there are thousands of colleges in the U. S., each with their own offerings and opportunities. With college, one size doesn't fit all, and what might be a wonderful school for one student may not serve another student well. The focus should be on the best-fit schools for any individual. Therefore it is important to know as much as possible about a student's academic interests, learning style, strengths and weaknesses, creative and athletic abilities or other unique skills, experiences and interests. In addition it is valuable to think about what environments make that individual feel comfortable, challenged and excited to learn.
Some of the advantages of an independent educational consultant are that they visit numerous colleges and universities, speak with many admissions officers and have researched special programs and opportunities available at various schools, often those not known to the majority of students and their families. An independent educational consultant knows how to evaluate which courses, activities or testing would enhance a student's record and then highlight that record to its best advantage on college applications. A consultant knows how to help a student build a realistic college list to include 'reach', ‘target’ and 'safety' schools and to know what colleges belong in which group for that student. In addition, a consultant knows how to talk with students to elucidate attitudes, values and expectations that help to find colleges that would be good matches for them where they could have success.
Working in collaboration with a qualified independent educational consultant who specializes in the college admissions process can alleviate a student’s and his or her parents’ anxieties. Meetings can be set up at convenient times and questions can be answered confidentially. There are great college choices for any student if they know where to look, and there is no reason for fear or hopelessness. Planning for college can, and should, be a time of exciting possibilities wherein students feel empowered to embrace their future.