The 3 Signs You Need Help From a College Admissions Consultant

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Smiling college students

Are you confused about where to start with the college application process?

Applying to college feels like jumping through dozens of hoops that pop up faster and faster as seniors head into the fall. I wish it were an easier process, but from choosing essay prompts to prioritizing extracurriculars for the Activities Lists, from understanding the essay differences to managing the deadlines, it’s a lot! Occasionally, I learn about a teen who handled it independently, but most teens rely on a trusted adult — parent or other — to guide them through the steps.

Below is a breakdown of three different situations you may find yourself in at this moment and how you and your teen may benefit from the help of a trained college advisor. I appreciate you visiting my site and possibly reaching out about working together. My client meetings are all conducted via Zoom regardless of distance. However, if you want to find an advisor in your local area, I suggest visiting HECA, the Higher Education Consultants Association, and clicking “Find a Consultant.” I’m a member of HECA which specializes in higher education. The other professional organizations for independent educational consultants (both high school and higher education consulting) is IECA and the National Association of College Admissions Counselors (NACAC or one of the regional divisions; I belong to Western – WACAC).

1. You Don’t Have the Time to Figure Out the College Application Process – But You Definitely Want Your Teen to Feel Successful

Does this sound like you? 

Your schedule is jam-packed. You want to help your high school student, but you don’t have the bandwidth to figure out the college admissions process and all the deadlines. You feel overwhelmed when you look up resources. You have the financial means to hire a consultant, but you’re unsure where to start. 

If this sounds familiar, you’re in exactly the same position as my other comprehensive package clients who want a college advisor to take the reins and drive the process. You’ll be in the loop with email updates and periodic family meetings, but it’s hands-off for you except for a few necessary action items. Hiring a competent college advisor saves you energy and reduces stress!

Please reach out for a complimentary consultation so I can learn about your teen and your family’s goals. Whether or not we decide to work together, I’ll share my “College Application Milestones” checklist. 

2. You Have Time and Energy to Help Your Student With the College Admissions Process but Need a Program to Follow

Does this feel familiar?

You have time to invest and a good working relationship with your teen; however, you’re not confident about where to start or what to prioritize. You don’t want to make a mistake, but you’ve never done this before and are wise enough to recognize what you don’t know!

If you’re asking yourself any of these questions, this might be you:

  • How do I know what schools to focus on for my teen’s academics?
  • What tools are out there to help us research schools and complete the apps?
  • How do we decide about Early Decision, Restricted Early Action, or Early Action?
  • What else should my student do this summer to boost their application?

Don’t fret! You can do this with your teen, and I can guide you. I wish I’d known someone who could’ve coached me and our oldest daughter through her college applications. I had the time, the research skills, and the writing experience, yet felt insecure about what I didn’t know about the entire process. I figured it out but with a learning curve! 

If this sounds like you, consider a “collaborative” college advising package where we decide, together, what support you need and develop a plan to make it happen. 

Like comprehensive package families, you can access my management system, which includes a robust college database. Based on your background and confidence with writing, we can decide if you want to include my Essay Mentoring.  (Essay brainstorming and strategy are included, but I don’t recommend multiple coaches as the student works through drafts.)

The primary difference between a comprehensive package and a collaborative package is that you drive the process with the collaborative package. Plan on spending approximately 30 hours helping your teen with college research, meeting regularly to stay on track, meeting with me to check progress and learn about the next steps, and mentoring early essays even if you’ve hired me to coach or proof. This is above and beyond normal parent time for the college process, which includes taking your teen on tours and managing the emotional ups and downs!

You can absolutely conquer the college application process using my experience and tools. As a benefit, you’ll get to know your teen better!

3. You Feel Confident Helping Your Teen With College Applications but Want Occasional Advice to Stay on Track or Address Specific Issues

Does this sound like you?

You’ve done this process before, but this time around, it’s a little different. Maybe the timeline has changed, you’re now working full-time, or your younger teen has unique learning needs or desires, including dreams of college athletics.

If you’re asking yourself any of the below questions, this might be you:

  • Do you feel like you can handle the essays but maybe not how to research the college list, or vice versa? 
  • Do you need help developing a strategy for which app to submit Early Decision?
  • Would you like help with essay brainstorming and a final proofreader?
  • Are you interested in how to maximize merit aid?
  • Is your student hoping to be recruited and do you need a plan to follow?
  • Are you considering test-optional schools or whether to take the SAT or ACT?

Please contact me for a consultation to discuss your specific needs. I will most likely suggest an hourly project-based package based on our discussion. Or, if you have a more time-consuming need, such as help with athletic recruiting, we can create a custom package for you and your student that’s more in-depth.

The College Application Process Doesn’t Have to Be Overwhelming

I know it feels like a lot — and it’s coming fast — but with the right guide, the steps to move forward successfully are clear. And with a strong plan in place, your student will feel successful about their applications — and when admissions results come in. 

Consider whether your family is looking for a comprehensive college advisor to take the reins, a collaborative program to help you work closely with your teen, or help with a specific component of the process.

Whatever your needs, please reach out for a complimentary consultation. I look forward to meeting you!

Lisa Harrison, M.A., Founder, Empower College Consulting
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