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The State of College Admissions and the College Consultant

Updated: Apr 23


College admissions is in the news more than ever this year, as was outlined in the March 12th Wall Street Journal article describing the 2023-24 admission season as, “The Most Confusing, Chaotic College Admissions Season in Years,”  and NY Intelligencer’s March 20th article Inside the Craziest College Admisson Season Ever.

 

In short, the most publicized culprit for the difficulties this year involved the revamped FAFSA, which due to it’s late (end of December) rollout, delayed financial aid packages to families who are awaiting them, in turn postponing their ability to make a decision on where to attend. Add to this, the Supreme Court Ruling banning racially preferential admissions that threw admissions offices, all of whom want diverse campuses, into a tailspin in an effort to work around this.

 

Beyond these recent events however, the non-transparency of what colleges are looking for, and how they are reviewing applications, has continued relentlessly down it’s murky path. Much of the blame for this in recent years is the removal of the ACT/SAT submission requirement that burst on the scene during COVID and persists with most colleges. Without this marker, schools are relying more heavily on holistic admission (read: character evaluation) so students are scrambling to present themselves in a positive light, without knowing if it’s enough. Without the need for test score submissions that would have inhibited students from applying to more selective schools in the past, applications are up, and acceptance rates are down, denying students who a few years ago may have been accepted.

 

With these trends in place, families are looking to experts to help them strategize, and while no one can guarantee admission to any (non-guaranteed admission) school, consultants, who have a big-picture view of the admissions landscape, can provide insights and guidance.

 


Who should hire a consultant?


The student who would benefit from the support of a consultant is applying to selective colleges (any school that does not have guaranteed admission) AND fits one or more of these criteria:

  • Desires assistance in finding best fit schools.

  • Would benefit from assistance with self-evaluation to identify their character traits and how to present them on the college application.

  • Would benefit from assistance with constructing a standout essay.

  • Would benefit from assistance in putting together a cohesive application.

  • Would benefit from application timeline management.

  • Wants someone to advise them on strategies such as whether or not to apply early, whether to send test scores, how to approach selecting a major on the application, which extracurriculars to highlight, and financial aid strategies.

  • The family wants to enjoy their last year(s) with their child at home while letting someone else guide their child through the process.

 

At what point should the consultant be hired?


Benefits to hiring a consultant can come at any point in the process, but timing dictates what you will be able to achieve.

  • 8th, 9th or 10th grade:  Strategize academic choices, extracurricular activities and admission testing planning.

  • 11th grade: Identify best fit colleges, explore the student’s character traits as they pertain to what colleges are looking for, as well as the opportunity to work through the entire application process.

  • 12th grade: Support for the entire application process to include tracking of each application's requirements, timeline management, application decision plan and test submission strategies, and essay support.

 

When searching for a consultant, families should look for the level of personalization the consultant offers, goals, and timing and frequency of meetings. The consultant should be a member of IECA or HECA,  two professional education consultant organizations that require their members meet ethical and professional training benchmarks.  More detail on what to expect working with an IECA consultant can be can be found HERE.

 

While some might lament that we are in a climate that precipitates the need for assistance in the college admission process, others would argue it’s what you do with your time in college, rather than where you go, that makes it a success. And there are certainly resourceful and organized students who can navigate the admission process on their own without hiring a consultant.


For those who do feel they would benefit from the support, look at it as no different than hiring a fitness instructor to improve your workout or an accountant to do your taxes. These people are experts in their field and can help you accomplish a goal, just as a college consultant can.

 

VP College Consulting accepts students in grades 8 – 12 year-round, offers free consultations, meets with Kansas City-metro area students in-person on request, or with students nation-wide over Zoom, and personalizes steps and strategies to the needs of each student. Hourly or comprehensive packages are offered and can be found here -  https://www.vpcollegeconsulting.com.

 

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