How Can a College Admissions Counselor Help You with Your College Application?

25/11/202324 minute read
How Can a College Admissions Counselor Help You with Your College Application?

Every year well over 20 million US students head to college. But when did these students start planning this journey? How much will their choice of college impact their future? The fact is your most consequential decisions about college unfold long before you actually head to college!

Whether it’s a personalized plan that gets you to the best university possible, or taking a more comprehensive approach, that includes test prep, academic tutoring, and help with college essays, getting a college counselor on your side deserves serious consideration.

In this post we’ll explain why many highly motivated students hire a professional admissions counselor, what these counselors do for you, how to assess your own need for counseling support, and even what to look for in a counseling provider. We’ll also share what Crimson strategists and students have to say in their own words about how a college counselor can help you with the entire college application process.

As a teenager growing up in California, I remember riding a raft down a twisting, boulder-filled whitewater river. I was a bit anxious, but I wasn’t stressed, and I certainly wasn’t at risk of losing my way. Why? Because at arm's length was an expert river guide. Thanks to that skilled and experienced guide, this adventure was nerve wracking at moments, yes, but mostly it was exhilarating. And, while tossed in the fast-moving rapids, I could still be confident about getting to the right destination.

Trying to weave your way through the labyrinth of college admissions can also be stressful, especially if you lack skilled guidance, steering, and direction.

Every year thousands of students, parents, and caregivers turn to college admissions counselors for help getting into their dream college.

Let’s face it, if you have questions about early action and early decision applications and you’re juggling multiple application requirements and deadlines, it’s easy to miss a step or lose sight of the bigger picture among so many details.

Even more challenging — and more consequential — can be the process of deciding which schools to apply for: which schools you can realistically compete for a spot at, and which of those schools really offer the best programs for your interests and goals.

Whether it’s questions about SAT and ACT testing, keeping up with college prep courses, finding the right math tutor, or scheduling college visits… you’ve got to be “on it” to make sure your admissions journey lives up to or exceeds your expectations.

I don’t know about you, but I’d never go down whitewater rapids without a skilled outfitter. That said, when it comes to college admissions, too many students count on their high school counselors for guidance. These counselors are usually helpful, but are often stretched thin and may have no experience with holistic admissions processes at elite schools.

A professional college counselor with experience in admissions offices and dedicated to your needs and goals can be the guide in your raft that changes everything.

Stuccessful Students

The right counselor has the expertise to provide invaluable insights and support if you’re applying to more selective schools, helping you map the best strategy possible, choose the best-fit schools, and provide key insights as you make crucial decisions along the way.

Four Important Benefits of Working with a Skilled College Admissions Advisor:

  1. Your college journey becomes less stressful, more exciting, more empowering, guided by the highest expectations possible
  2. You make a smart investment in your future college outcomes — one that will pay dividends for a lifetime
  3. You and your family enjoy much greater confidence in decision making at every step
  4. You increase the odds for success — especially if your reach schools are highly selective

As a highly qualified and talented student, you may not get into your dream college because you simply don’t have the support you need. Working with qualified and experienced college admission counselors will give you the confidence you need to put your best foot forward.

Crimson Education is the world’s leading college admissions consulting company. Our students' disproportionately high rate of success is due to our unique model which teams students with Ivy/Oxbridge & other top university graduate experts who work with them 1:1 to perfect every part of their application. Book a free consultation to learn more about our Admissions Support Program.

II. How College Counselors Help

Now that you know why a college counselor really can help, let’s delve into some insights for your own decision making:

  • What does a personal admissions counselor do?
  • Who can benefit most?
  • How can you and your family assess your own level of support needs?
  • How do you measure the cost and benefits of college advising?
  • How do you choose a skilled and trustworthy advising service?

1. The Role of a College Counselor

A college counselor ensures you have a unified, overarching admissions strategy tailored to your profile and interests.

The most pivotal role a skilled college counselor plays is guiding you and your family as you map out an overarching college admissions strategy based on your interests, goals, and aspirations for college.

After that, this same skilled advisor will help you realize that strategy — helping you adjust and balance your academic and extracurricular priorities, leaving you confident you're applying to selective colleges with a profile that highlights your strongest accomplishments and deepest academic motivations.

A college counselor helps you select the best prospective colleges and universities.

One of the primary responsibilities of a college counselor is to help you have a real strategy for navigating your college choices, one of the hardest processes to manage.

A skilled advisor won’t pretend to know better than you what schools are the best fit for you personally...

What the college counselor should do is empower you and your family to effectively, and with less stress, identify which are the best schools to target:

  • with the right programs for your academic goals
  • offering the kind of campus culture you want
  • based on financial aid strategies for your circumstances

A skilled advisor will also be able to help you quickly identify if your list includes ideal “reach” schools for your profile and the best possible “target” and “safety” schools — all while ensuring you’re aiming as high as possible with every school on your list.

A college counselor helps guide you in tracking, completing, and submitting all of your college applications.

The application process is itself complicated and multifaceted. Skilled counseling teams help you manage each step and challenge along the way:

In essence, college counselors are more than just advisors; they are strategic partners in a student’s journey to higher education, helping them navigate the path to their dream college with confidence and clarity.

2. Who Can a College Counselor Help the Most?

Almost any student can benefit from individualized and professional advising, but sometimes your circumstances set you up for greater challenges and therefore greater advantages if you get help from a truly knowledgeable counselor.

College Counselors help students applying to very selective schools.

If you’re motivated to get into a top school you really need to be all in because admissions to the best schools has grown increasingly competitive. But how do you truly get an edge in a complex, holistic admissions process at an elite school?

Having a skilled and dedicated pro helping steer your process and provide some key support will give you a hundred small but important wins all along the way. By starting early and taking extra care with each component of your holistic profile and application strategies, you’ll significantly boost your odds for success.

When your application finally lands on a table in front of the admissions panel at a school like Duke, Stanford, Yale, or Columbia, you’ll have every advantage on your side.

College counselors with the right expertise know how to help students with unique or unusual circumstances, challenges, or talents.

There are students with unique talents or circumstances or students navigating exceptional life challenges. A skilled admissions counselor or strategist, having worked with diverse applicants and having a nuanced understanding of admissions processes at selective colleges, will know how to address those issues with expertise.

Maybe you need a strategy to highlight accomplishments that can’t be revealed by an SAT score, or maybe you’re an incredible violinist, a math whiz, or you’ve started your own business while in high school. A qualified college counselor will be skilled at helping you show how your unique talents and passions equip you to excel in college and enrich the campus community — making your application memorable and catching the admissions officer’s eye.

A college counselor makes a strong partner for any student that thrives in a mentoring relationship.

Even among highly motivated students there are personality types prone to procrastination or who struggle attending to small details, or who thrive with just a little outside support… Unfortunately most high school guidance counselors are too busy to support students like these — students that can really excel as long as they have the right kind of outside support, direction, and “push.”

An experienced college counselor should be trained to identify any individual obstacles to success and ensure the right kind of support is arranged. Sometimes these kinds of support are not that sophisticated, but they play a crucial role in ensuring you don’t short-change yourself just because you struggle with time management or struggle to focus on lots of small details.

In short, college counselors are for anyone who feels they could use an extra edge, a bit more clarity, or just a supportive guide through the complex world of college admissions.

Assessing Your Own Support Needs

Students and families can easily assess their own level of support need or consider how much they’ll benefit from a college counselor.

College admissions counselors come alongside you and your family, guiding you through the college admissions process. They are trained and experienced professionals who help prepare you in all aspects of the college admissions process.

Try asking yourself the questions below. You’ll quickly get a sense of how you might benefit most from having a skilled admissions advisor on your side:

  • How do my current extracurricular activities and experiences stack up in terms of helping me get into the kinds of schools I want to attend?
  • What should I do to build my academic profile, especially if my high school doesn’t have any AP or IB programs?
  • Do I need to know which schools I am applying to in order to be sure I’m taking the right classes all through high school?
  • How do I choose the right schools to apply to if I haven’t chosen a major yet?
  • What is counted most in a holistic admissions process — GPA? Class Rank? Test Scores? Extracurriculars?
  • Can I use my need for financial aid as a criterion for picking which colleges to apply to, including when choosing among elite colleges and universities?
  • Should I be taking and preparing for the SAT or ACT testing? Which one? What score do I need?
  • What’s better, applying early, or during Regular Decision application timelines?
  • How do I make my college admissions essay stand out among large pools of applicants at selective schools?

If you need support around some or many of these navigation challenges, you’re not alone. That’s why your high schools have college counselors, but it’s also why you need a professional whose fully dedicated to supporting you through the whole process.

In fact, the best counseling providers don’t work alone; they work with a team or network of skilled advisors, strategists, coaches, and mentors with insights for very specific questions, needs, and challenges!

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III. Understanding the Investment & Choosing Your Counseling Provider

A stumbling block for getting into the schools you most aspire to is often not about qualifications, talent and aptitudes, it’s believing that advising costs too much or that you and your family can manage all the steps on your own.

Students aiming for top colleges may face an even bigger stumbling block. In many cases highly motivated students have a strong commitment to hard work and independence and don’t want to get help, or think they just don’t need it.

Getting Help Requires Taking Initiative

You probably agree that it's better to have a skilled guide if you're going to take a small raft down boulder-strewn rapids. It’s far more sane to go with an experienced guide rather than quickly find yourself literally underwater!

Getting help and guidance isn’t a lack of initiative or ability. Getting help IS initiative taking. The fact is that students in high school who get a skilled advisor on their side early on will have a more empowering college journey and will have the most to gain.

Is College Counseling Worth It?

If you want top-notch college admissions counselors and strategists on your side, it will require professional fees — meaning it requires some investments and commitments. So, is it worth it?

Compared to college costs in general, your investments in college counseling support are relatively small. And, while the return on investment can be hard to quantify, it’s not hard to appreciate: improving your odds for getting an elite college experience can impact your whole future, delivering a truly outsized return on investment.

Let’s take a look at how the admissions rate at very selective schools increased for students who worked with a Crimson Education advisor, compared to all other applicants:

UniversityGeneral Admissions RateCrimson Student Admissions Rate
Harvard University3.49%16%
Princeton University~3.9%15%
Columbia University3.7%26%
Stanford University~4.0%15%
University of Pennsylvania~5.7%27%
University of Chicago~5.0%16%
Yale University4.3%22%
John Hopkins University6.0%28%

How do You Choose a Trustworthy College Counseling Provider?

One challenge for many students and families ready to elevate their college prospects is finding a skilled advisor service, as there are countless individuals advertising these kinds of support. To get better results, students and families should look for admissions counselors who offer the following advantages:

  • Are well versed in admissions processes at a wide variety of elite schools, both public and private
  • Offer an array of flexible services, preferably with a team approach
  • Offer a wide range of targeted support services and admissions within overarching strategies tailored to students’ individual interests, challenges, and circumstances
  • Adhere to explicit ethical guidelines and professional standards
  • Have a strong track record of success

While there are lots of admissions counseling services available, applying these standards should help students and families quickly home in on providers that truly offer a high level of trust, flexibility, and expertise — along with impressive results.

How Ayaka Got Into Brown University

Alternatives to Professional Counseling

If you do decide to go “solo” on your college admissions expedition, here’s a few pointers that may be helpful. To start, take stock of your own biggest questions, support needs, and challenges as you plan your college journey. Then you’ll know the most suitable resources to go after. With the guidance counselor at your high school being a good starting point, here are some additional resources to check out:

1. Books:

  • Admissions Matters: What Parents and Students Need to Know About Getting Into College, by Sally Springer et al. A guide to the admissions process for students and parents.
  • The Complete Book of Colleges. The Princeton Review. A comprehensive list of colleges with information about cost, financial aid, admissions, and more.

2. Online Resources:

3. Workshops and Webinars:

  • Look for local community education programs offered by local community colleges or other public colleges, or coordinated by your student’s high school College and Career Center or other organizers.
  • Many universities offer webinars and virtual sessions about their admissions process and what they look for in applicants, so find out what the schools on your college list offer.
  • Crimson Education hosts a variety of events and webinars (Crimson’s current webinar/workshop offerings).

4. College Fairs and Campus Visits:

  • Attending college fairs can provide direct interaction with college representatives.
  • Visiting college campuses can offer a real-life perspective of what the college offers.

5. Online Forums and Communities:

If you’re using or thinking about using online College Admissions forums, hosted by Reddit or Quora, for example, be aware that they can be hard to navigate, may contain information you can’t substantiate, and postings are sometimes very subjective or biased.

Before you spend too much time on forums, learn more by checking out this resource: “What to Know About College Admissions Forums,” US News & World Report.

IV. Insights from Crimson Advisors and Students

Stanford, Oxford, and Harvard are among the schools where Advisors at Crimson Education have worked. They really know what goes on in admissions offices at top schools, who's accepted, and why, or why not.

Strategy And Students

Brice, a veteran Senior Strategist at Crimson has this advice for students and families:

Get some help. It’s a big process. There’s so much to keep track of and a lot of things you want to make sure you’re doing at the right times. So the more people you have supporting you, the more enjoyable it will be for you and the better the results… And the sooner you get started and matched with the right Strategist, the sooner your student can start making those leaps towards achieving their dreams.

Another Crimson Strategist, Alisha, is a UCLA graduate and has helped Crimson students get into Harvard, UCLA, and other outstanding schools. Alisha highlights the importance of finding admissions counseling providers who can bring together diverse teams with rich experiences and insights:

One of the greatest things about Crimson, both as a team member and for the student, is we’re full of fascinating people…Everybody has their specialty, we all have experienced something the student wants to experience. So having that richness of experiences to share with students I think is what makes Crimson really exciting and unique.

Talia, a Crimson student who got into UPenn, says:

I felt lost in the college search process. Having the support of a Crimson advisor was really essential to my success.

Counseling services also played a positive role for Bobby, who says Crimson coaches and mentors made it possible for him to get into MIT:

Throughout my time in Crimson, I was able to get a lot of help structuring my extracurricular activities and my essays...I’m definitely really grateful for the team that helped me get here [to MIT]... For my extracurriculars, [Crimson] definitely helped me to find ways in which I could obtain leadership experience and also what sort of things I should do to show my passion… For my essays, I think there were a lot of hours I spent calling a lot of Crimson people trying to nail down what I should talk about, how to really show every aspect of myself and communicate that to admissions officers at every school I was applying to.

Bobby’s biggest advice to other students is to start the process early, when possible, in order to have the best edge possible.

For students who are starting later in the admissions process, in their junior year, for example, Brice, the Senior Strategist, likes to point out that Crimson Strategists can help those students too. Brice will draw on his experiences as a former admissions officer and working with diverse Crimson students in order to tailor admissions strategies based on your circumstances — helping every student make a compelling and coherent admissions “narrative” that will stand out in large pools of applications.

How Takenoshin Got Into Harvard

How can a Crimson college counselor help me?

Crimson is proud to be part of your journey to college admission. We match you with a dedicated personal support team to help with each area of your application. With more than 3,000 mentors and tutors, our team has first-hand knowledge and experience about the entire college application process. Our unique personality test pairs you with mentors based on personality type, learning and teaching styles, and interests.

Depending on your program, you could have team members in the following areas:

  • Education Coordinator
  • Strategist, Extracurricular & Leadership (ECL) Mentor
  • Application Mentor

Crimson offers both experienced strategists and near-peer mentors. You get the expertise of a strategist and the confidence knowing that you can achieve what your near-peer mentor did in the recent past.

Crimson students are 4x more likely to gain admission to an Ivy League university, 3x more likely to gain admission to Stanford and MIT, 4 x more likely to gain admission to Duke, UChicago, and Northwestern, and 2x more likely to gain admission to NYU, UC Berkeley and UCLA.

Why Crimson is Your Top College Admissions Counselor.

Crimson recruits highly qualified staff who are the best of the best. Our strategists, mentors, and tutors are Ivy League and top school graduates. Our extracurricular mentors have launched groundbreaking initiatives and impacted others on a global and international scale. Crimson tutors are top scorers in the SAT, ACT, AP, and more.

Crimson offers exclusive content to our students and free college admission resources like eBooks and our Top of the Class podcast to the general community.

Final Thoughts

Can a college counselor help with your college applications? Absolutely. Like any time-consuming and complicated process, college admissions can quickly get overwhelming. Experienced advisors and strategists not only provide extra support and valuable outside perspectives, they also have access to amazing colleagues — and pools of knowledge — that are invaluable for helping all students they work with succeed beyond expectations.

Rather than leaving a life-changing endeavor to chance and pure personal will power, let the insights of professional advisors who have a proven track record of success elevate your admissions journey.

The risk-reward calculations are clearly in your favor, as it’s hard to overestimate the life-changing impact of an elite college education.

Finally, a skilled advisor won’t simply pick schools for you based on your profile, but will understand how to empower you and your own decision making process so you feel confident about your choices and have the best odds for succeeding at the goals you set!

What Makes Crimson Different

If you’re just getting started, or you’re well into charting a course to college already, consider scheduling a free consultation today. Remember, it’s free and it’s an easy way to really discover what working with an advisor and strategist might be like in your circumstances, and get your questions answered.

Remember, we're dedicated to assisting you in creating an application that maximizes your chances of joining the ranks of students at schools you dream about. And, even before you get into managing applications, we’ll  work with you to tailor a strategy that fits your personal profile, interests, and college aspirations — supporting you and your family as you decide which school to aim for and how to get there.