Calling in the Pros: Do I Need a Private College Counselor?

If you’ve heard success stories about students who have used a private college counselor in their college search, you might be wondering if you need one yourself. But rest assured, there’s no reason you can’t do a great job handling your college search on your own.

Think of it this way: Deciding which college to attend is an extremely personal decision. No one is better equipped than you to consider how a college matches up to your priorities, put together a college application that truly represents your accomplishments and ultimately choose the school where you’ll be happiest.

That’s not to say a private college consultant isn’t a great resource if you have access to one. These professionals are experts on the ins-and-outs of the college admissions process and can guide you through virtually every step of your college search. Their help, however, can be expensive.

For fees that range from hundreds to thousands of dollars, a consultant will typically help you with:

  • Identifying colleges that fit with your personal interests and strengths
  • Organizing an impressive admissions package
  • Polishing up your admissions essays
  • Practicing for college interviews
  • Staying organized as you manage paperwork and deadlines

But you should also remember that you already have plenty of other resources at your fingertips that can help you with your college search. Whether you call in the pros or go it alone, here are a few resources you’ll want to be sure to tap along the way:

  • Your High School Counselor: Your counselor is a great source for information about colleges and the admissions process. Remember: The better your guidance counselor knows you, the better prepared they are to recommend colleges that will be a good fit for you — so visit your counselor’s office early in your college search and check in regularly.
  • Online Resources: You can find the answer to virtually any question about college admission online. Of course, the Internet should also be one of your first stops in researching colleges, scholarship opportunities and financial aid. A good place to start is right here on The federal government has lots of free resources for students at Also, the Web sites of the colleges you are considering will contain lots of good information.
  • offers a free service that matches you up with colleges that are likely to be interested in you based on your interests and strengths. The site also has plenty of free information and advice — including videos, tips, guides and checklists — that will help you throughout your entire college search.
  • Family, Friends and Teachers: Whether they’re proofreading your application, helping you decide which colleges to visit or writing a glowing letter of recommendation, the people who know you best are an important part of your college search.