How to Identify and Select Qualified College Consultants

Are you wondering how you’ll navigate your student’s college admissions process? We get it! There is a load of information out there and it can be overwhelming to figure out where to start. Moreover, there are a lot of college consultants advertising their services. This may have you wondering how to choose the best person for your student and family. 

The college consulting field has grown rapidly, and there are a lot of consultants to decipher between. For instance, did you follow the major scandal that many celebrity parents agreed to ensure their children’s acceptance into elite colleges? Then you know things can go south if strong ethics are not at play.

4 Tips For Hiring A College Consultant

To help you figure out how to select the best college consultant for your student, we will go over what to look for in a college consultant. 

1. Their Ability To Guide Your Student To Practice Self Acceptance

Do you dream of your student attending your alma mater or maybe the school you wished to attend? Then it’s time to loosen the reins. Your student’s college application process is specifically about your student – not you nor the status quo. 

Dr. Beth Dennard, Bright Future’s founder, urges parents to find a consultant who can help their student understand themselves. At Bright Futures, we are big fans of the Birkman Assessment. Its ability to help students understand their strengths, behaviors, interests, and goals is invaluable. Because when a student better understands themself, they are able to identify their best opportunities. 

When it comes to college planning, the Birkman is incredibly helpful. For instance, rather than apply to the same school as their friends, your student will want to apply to a school with an environment where they will thrive. This includes school culture, class size, degree offerings, and much more. Choosing a college isn’t the time to jump on the bandwagon. Instead, it’s a time to really reflect on the best investment for each particular person. And remember that no two people are the same. The best college for your student will likely not be the same as everyone in the neighborhood or their group of friends.  

Plus, the Birkman is the gift that keeps on giving. The results will be useful to refer back to years after college when considering career changes and to navigate all types of relationships.

Give your student the gift that will last a lifetime. Contact us today and ask about the Birkman Assessment. 

2. Their Experience, Training & Strict Ethical Guidelines

Would you go to a doctor or mechanic with zero experience or training? Moreover, would you entrust your student’s future to someone with questionable ethics? For most people, the answers to these questions will be a resounding “No way!” The same thought should be considered for your college consultant. 

There are many teachers looking for a side hustle. And there are large national chains that may not be very selective in their hiring process. This may be fine if you’re just looking for someone to check for grammar errors. However, if you require more, you need a consultant with experience and training in the college admissions process.  

For instance, Claire Mangrum of Bright Futures worked in college admissions for 6 years. During this time, she traveled the country to visit high schools, meet applicants, and decide applications. This experience and training gives her a unique eye for knowing exactly how to make an application stand out from the crowd.

Your student should always air on the side of ethics whenever it comes into question. As we’ve all seen in the news, dishonest applications can have serious consequences. Even worse, this could follow a student around throughout their professional lives after college. 

At Bright Futures, we hold ethics to the highest standard and require that of our clients as well. Furthermore, we wouldn’t want to send your student to a school that doesn’t fit their exact needs. Finding loopholes and lying on applications for the sake of acceptance is a disservice to the student more than anything. 

Interested in learning what all the college admissions process entails? Contact us today for a complimentary consultation to get started!

3. Their Demonstrated Expertise In College Consulting

Dr. Dennard recommends finding consults who seek ongoing professional development. Some notable organizations include the Higher Education Consultants Association (HECA) and the National Association for College Admissions Counseling (NACAC). Both HECA and NACAC have ethical guidelines and principles of good practice. 

As the founder of Bright Futures Consulting, Dr. Dennard’s extensive experience is helpful to clients and her fellow consultants and counselors alike. Dr. Dennard has over 30 years of experience working in college admissions, high school counseling, and as an educational consultant. Furthermore, she has a doctorate in education, is a licensed professional counselor, and is a certified Birkman consultant. In addition to HECA and NACAC, Dr. Dennard is also a member of the Texas Association of College Admissions Counselors (TACAC).

While many other counselors and consultants join the field of college consulting with good intentions, their experience may fall short. And depending on your family’s needs, a novice counselor may be appropriate. 

However, if you are looking for someone to help you navigate the entire process, you should find someone with demonstrated expertise. 

Our youngest clients are wrapping up middle school and already thinking of what high school classes will help them gain acceptance to their dream college. With that said, it’s never too late to start working with a college counselor. Because of our collective experience, training, and expertise, the Bright Futures team is able to guide a wide variety of students through the college admissions process. 

4. They Provide A Clear Explanation Of Services & Fees

It’s no secret that college can be expensive. And the same goes for preparing for college. It’s important to find a consultant who provides a clear explanation of their services and all fees included. 

According to Dr. Dennard, “Families need to know what they’re getting for their money when signing up with a consultant. A quality educational consultant’s services are not cheap. However, compared with what most families pay for private tutoring, athletic coaching, or music lessons over the course of a child’s life, it’s a bargain and a tremendous investment in a child’s future.”

Bright Futures offers several packages, workshops, and hourly advising to fit within most families’ budgets. If you’re unsure which option is right for you, start with a complimentary consultation. 

At the end of the day, our mission is to guide students to reach their educational and career goals. Our website is full of helpful resources including many podcasts and blogs covering a wide range of college admissions topics. Make sure to do a deep dive and take advantage of all the resources available to you. 

Ready To Put Your Student On The Path To Their Bright Future?

The Bright Futures team works with students and their families to navigate the college admissions process. Whether your student is in middle school, a senior, or making a decision over their gap year after high school – it is never too late to start planning for their bright future ahead. 

Schedule your complimentary consultation today to learn how we can help you. 

Note: This post was originally published on March 11, 2013 and has been completely revamped for comprehensiveness.