Is a College Admissions Consultant Worth the Investment?

08/09/202313 minute read
Is a College Admissions Consultant Worth the Investment?

Thousands of brilliant students compete for a handful of spots at the world’s top universities each year. That’s why 26% of ambitious high school seniors are now hiring independent college admissions consultants. Is it worth the investment? Read on and decide for yourself.

Applying to college is a part time job — except you don’t get paid, the stakes are high, and you won’t know how well you’re doing until it’s too late to make a change.

With competition increasing each year to get into top universities, ambitious students are looking for ways to get a leg up in the admissions process. Many have turned to college admissions consultants for a boost. In fact, 1 in 4 high-achieving high school seniors hire an independent college consultant. (1)

But is a college admissions consultant worth the investment? Let’s take a look.

In this article, we’ll cover:

  • What a college admissions consultant can do for you
  • Common misconceptions about hiring a college admissions consultant
  • Tips for getting the most value out of the admissions consulting process
  • Alternative resources for navigating the college admissions process

What can a college admissions consultant do for you?

The road to college is paved with specialized lingo, looming deadlines, and complex decisions. A consultant can be your translator as you learn the foreign language of college admissions. They can also give you or your child a competitive edge and increase your chances of acceptance at your dream school.

1. Takes the Pressure Off of Parents

Imagine: You’re a parent. You tell your teenager, “I think you should write your essay about this. Also, please finish a draft of your activities list by Friday.” Your teenager smiles and says, “What a great idea, thanks! I’ll get right on it.”

Of course, this rarely happens. More often, eyes are rolled and advice is ignored.

A college admissions consultant is a valuable buffer in the household. Students can be more likely to appreciate advice when it comes from a trusted third party. Many parents report that their college admissions consultant helped them keep the peace throughout this potentially stressful time.

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2. Offer Step-by-Step Directions

What if you punched a new destination into Google Maps, and it simply told you, “Head north”? No maps or step-by-step instructions. If you were really savvy, you could still get there. But it would take you so much longer — and you still might not end up in the right place.

Trying to get into a top university like Stanford or Harvard without a plan is like trying to find your way to a new location without a map. It’s unnecessarily difficult. A college admissions consultant has walked hundreds of students down this path. They know exactly what needs to be done, and when. They can keep you on track with daily, weekly, and monthly tasks. And they can keep you from being blindsided by important deadlines.

3. Help You Stand Out

More people than ever are applying to college, and acceptance rates are getting lower and lower. It’s no longer good enough to be at the top of your class or be “well-rounded.” Thousands of students with perfect grades and shining extracurriculars get rejected each year from Ivy League and top universities. With so many stellar students competing for the attention of admissions officers, you need a way to stand out.

A college admissions consultant can answer questions such as:

  • Out of the courses your school offers, which should you take?
  • Should you self-study or take any subjects outside your school offerings? If so, what?
  • Which standardized tests should you take? Should you submit your scores?
  • How can you choose extracurriculars that demonstrate intellectual curiosity, leadership skills, commitment to your community, and most importantly — impact?
  • What’s at least one quirky activity that reflects a more unusual skill or hobby?
  • What should you write your essay about? More importantly, what should you NOT write about?
  • What should be the overall theme of your application?
  • When and where should you apply to maximize your chances of success?

All of these questions are part of constructing an application that stands out to admissions officers.

4. Offer School-Specific Insights

The college admissions process is confusing enough as it is. But each university also has unique processes and quirks that are easily missed from the outside.

Take Johns Hopkins University, for example. “When applying to Johns Hopkins, you don’t have to declare a major,” says Jeremy Parks, a Former Johns Hopkins Admissions Officer. “But if you want to be a biomedical engineering major there, you have to declare biomedical engineering as your major. If you are reviewed and denied for the program, you are put back into the general applicant pool. This doesn't negatively impact you at all for general admission — even if denied to the selective program!”

A good college admissions consultant will have insider information about your target schools. Or, at the very least, they will have the resources to find such information.

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5. Save You Hundreds of Hours

Imagine how much time you could spend lost down the rabbit hole of school research. Or the countless hours you could waste on weak extracurriculars that won’t strengthen your application. Not to mention the time lost to staring at a blank page or scouring the internet for personal essay inspiration. Now imagine putting in all of this effort to apply for schools that aren’t even a good fit for you. 

A college admissions consultant can streamline the process from day one by creating a roadmap and keeping you laser-focused on productive tasks.

6. Bring Your Stress Level Down

High school is packed with classes, clubs, sports, personal interests, family obligations, and social life. Now throw college applications into the mix. How do you balance them all? It can be overwhelming. 

A consultant can help alleviate some of your family’s stress by providing a roadmap and timeline for the application process. You’ll sleep peacefully knowing that you are meeting every deadline and are on track to reach your goals.

7. Increase Your Chances of Getting In

First: no ethical college admissions consultant will guarantee results. If they do, run far away! 

But consulting with experts can undeniably increase your chances of getting into your target schools. For example, Crimson Education helps students gain admission to the Ivy League, Stanford, MIT, Duke, UC Berkeley, UCLA and other top colleges at a rate that is 4.5x higher than the general applicant rate.

UniversityGeneral Admit Rate 2013General Admit Rate 2023Crimson Admit Rate
Princeton 9.8%~4%15%
University of Pennsylvania17.1%4.1%27%
Yale 7.5%4.4%21%

A college admissions consultant is not a miracle worker. They cannot help a student gain admission to a school for which they are fundamentally under qualified. But they can help students present their best selves and make informed decisions about their college choices!

Common Misconceptions About College Admissions Consultants

There are some misconceptions surrounding college admissions consultants that are important to address.

Myth 1: “They don’t do anything your high school guidance counselor can’t already do for you.”

The American School Counselor Association (ASCA) recommends that schools maintain a ratio of 250 students per school counselor. They also recommend that school counselors spend at least 80% of their time working directly with or indirectly for students.

Unfortunately, the average student-to-school-counselor ratio is 464 to 1 across all schools. (2)

Even the most knowledgeable and hardworking school counselors in excellent schools are overstretched. When you hire a college admissions consultant, you’re ensuring that your hard work won’t get lost in the shuffle. You’re also getting a counselor who becomes an expert on you and your application. You’re not just another number.

Myth 2: “They guarantee admission.”

No consultant can guarantee admission to any university. Admissions decisions are in the hands of the colleges themselves. A consultant provides expert guidance and support to make sure you present your best self when you hit send on your applications.

Myth 3: “They write essays for students.”

It is unethical for a consultant to write essays or complete applications on behalf of the student. Reputable consultants do not do this! A good consultant provides feedback and helps the student's voice shine through in their application materials.

Tips for Maximizing the Value of a College Admissions Consultant

Working with a college admissions consultant can be well worth the investment if you make the most of the experience. Here are some tips for maximizing the value:

1. Be Proactive

Take an active role in the process and be prepared to put in the work. Gather the necessary documents, provide timely information, and actively participate in meetings.

2. Communicate Openly

Be honest and open about your goals, aspirations, and concerns. This will help your consultant provide tailored guidance.

3. Embrace Feedback

Your consultant's feedback is invaluable. Be open to constructive criticism and use it to improve your applications and essays.

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Alternative Resources for Navigating the College Admissions Process

While hiring a college admissions consultant can help, it’s not the only resource available. Here are some alternative resources to consider:

1. School Guidance Counselors: Many high schools have guidance counselors who are knowledgeable about the college admissions process. They can provide guidance and support, often free of charge. Keep in mind that high school counselors often have hundreds of students assigned to them, so they may not be able to devote much time to your applications.

2. Free Online Resources: Crimson offers hundreds of free online resources, including blogs, eBooks, live webinars, and on-demand webinars that offer valuable insights and tips for navigating the admissions process.

The cost of hiring a college admissions consultant

Hiring a college admissions consultant is not without its costs. Fees can range from several hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars, depending on the level of service and expertise required. Consider your budget and weigh whether the benefits are worth the financial investment for your family.

Crimson Access Opportunity (CAO) provides high achieving students who need financial support with expert admissions consulting services for FREE! Visit the CAO website to apply.

Conclusion: Is a College Admissions Consultant Worth the Investment?

Hiring a college admissions consultant can be a game-changer for students navigating the college admissions process. They have a deep understanding of what colleges are looking for and can guide students in making informed decisions. From selecting the right schools to perfecting your essays, they can help you stand out among the competition.

The college admissions journey can be challenging, but the right support can lighten the load. Whether you choose to work with a college admissions consultant or explore alternative resources, remember that the most important factor is finding the path that aligns with your goals. Good luck on your college admissions journey!

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