This is a very central question, but like many important decisions, it mostly comes down to a personal choice. Some people look primarily for credentials and experience, others feel more comfortable based on referrals from a trusted source. Regardless, there are a few things to keep in mind when choosing a college consultant:
First, remember that anyone can call themselves a “college consultant” – there is no degree or certification requirement. However, there are recognized professional memberships that help set the standard: HECA, IECA, and NACAC are the national associations for those working within higher education admissions and college counseling. Membership often requires a certain amount of education and experience within the field, as well as continued learning about different colleges so that consultants keep abreast of student development and admissions. Most importantly, professional organizations require consultants to abide by high ethical standards when conducting their business.
Second, keep in mind that people enter college consulting for a variety of reasons. Some, like Dr. Dennard, have spent their life working within college admissions and or directing high school college guidance departments. Her decision to enter educational consulting twenty years ago was a natural one. Others enter into college consulting after helping their own children and realizing they have a passion for the process. Also, as the profession becomes more well-known and the need for consultants increases, some study specifically to be a college admissions consultant and pursue the career directly after college.
Finally, consider what the consultant offers, how they conduct their business, and if their services will meet your needs. Some consultants meet only in their hometown, or even in their own home (which may not be convenient for some people). Some specialize and others provide services that can assist a wide variety of students and clients. Some consultants work independently while others may work as part of a team or group. It’s important that the consultant takes into account your (or your student’s) needs and expectations, and that they are clear in explaining their services and role in the process.
It’s a lot to consider, but ultimately, it’s worth it.
At Bright Futures LLC, we feel blessed to be able to meet and exceed the highest of standards and offer a wide variety of services to our students and families.
Dr. Beth Dennard has spent her career in college admissions, all the while building relationships with key higher educational and business organizations. She is the founder of Breakthrough Houston’s Essay Workshop, a leader in the formation of Houston IEC (Independent Educational Consultant), and is a valued speaker and contributor to many other programs. She has also set Bright Futures apart by becoming the only college consultant in the Houston area to use the widely respected and recognized Birkman assessment in regards to college placement and college admissions.
Additionally, Bright Futures sets itself apart from other independent consultants by working with other team members to further enhance its services. As mentioned previously, people enter into college consulting for many reasons and at Bright Futures, all are represented (visit our Experts page to read more about our team). With our experienced team in place, we are able to offer a variety of services and work with many types of students. Whether it be a motivated 6th grader, a high school student with “senioritis”, or an adult wanting to pursue further education – we have it covered. We have offices in Clear Lake/NASA, Houston, and consultants who are willing to travel further if the need arises (and let’s not forget Skype!).
Remember, choosing a college consultant is a personal choice, and it’s important that you feel confident in your consultant’s abilities, as well as comfortable working with them. If you are interested in working with a college consultant, please give us a call or click here to schedule your free initial consultation.