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Admission Counseling: What to look for in a college admissions counselor

By Sandy Furth and Robyn T. Moreth

Once you've decided to work with an admission counseling professional, you'll want to find an experienced counselor who can give your family honest, accurate, and individualized attention throughout the college search and application process. In your quest to find an ethical admission counseling professional who will help your student "survive and thrive" in college and beyond, use these guidelines:

A Good Counselor Should:

  • Have experience in college admissions either on the high school or college side.
  • Belong to one or more professional educational organizations. (IECA, NACAC, and/or HECA)
  • Regularly attend conferences and visit college campuses in order to stay up-to-date on current admission trends and happenings.
  • Clearly state the depth and breadth of their services in writing.
  • Treat each student with respect and realize that each student is unique in their talents and aspirations.
  • Take time to get to know the student individually.
  • Communicate effectively with you and in a timely manner.

A Good Counselor Will:

  • Assist in crafting the college list. All parties involved should come up with ideas and contribute to a list.
  • Help find summer and enrichment programs that will enhance a student's life, not merely help build an impressive resume.
  • Offer advice regarding high school and college curriculum choices and extracurricular activities.
  • Assist with brainstorming application and scholarship essays.
  • Assist with drafting a student's college resume and application.

A Good Counselor Will Not:

  • Make admission guarantees at any college.
  • Write the essay for the student.
  • Fill out application forms for the student.
  • Choose a major for the student.
  • Use connections to help the student “get in”.
  • Write the counselor recommendation.
  • Allow the student to embellish his/her application and/or resume.

Your admission counselor is there to act as a guide throughout the college application process. While he or she is happy to be a resource for you and your child to turn to, the actual process of choosing and applying to a school is ultimately the student's responsibility. When working with a college admission counselor, a student will always be responsible for:

  • Staying in contact with his or her school counselor, as the counselor will be writing a letter of recommendation that will be tremendously important. In addition, the counselor will have some very helpful information regarding specific deadline dates for teacher letters of recommendation, testing dates and locations, college fairs and other important information.
  • Staying on top of deadlines such as ACT/SAT test dates and registration, college application deadlines, scholarship deadlines, Financial Aid Dates, etc.
  • Being flexible and open to new ideas. A student should always take a day or two before ruling anything out.
  • Taking ownership of the college application process and being diligent about meeting deadlines.

The bottom line however, is that there are great colleges out there, one of which is exactly the right fit for each student. The goal of any admission counseling professional is always to help a student find that perfect fit, while reducing stress and anxiety for both students and parents. It's the student at the core of the process, as it is the student who will be attending college, not the parent. We, as consultants will always have the student's best interest in mind.

Robyn T. Moreth has over a decade of experience in education. A former Spanish teacher, Ms. Moreth entered the field of counseling with the specific goal of helping students and their families with their post-high school plans. She holds a Masters Degree in School Counseling and Guidance and has worked as both a generalist and college/career counselor in two Illinois high schools in Township High School District 214. She has professional membership in the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA), National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), and the Higher Education Consultants Association (HECA).

Sandy Furth has a MS degree from the University of Utah and her teaching certificate from University of Colorado. In addition, she received her College Counseling Certificate from UCLA. Sandy has taught for over 20 years in Colorado, Japan, Malaysia and England as a Learning Disabilities Specialist and as a regular educator in all grades. She has consulted with international schools on ways to implement special education programs. While she works with students who wish to attend university in the US, she also works with students who wish to attend university in the United Kingdom. Sandy is a board member of a twice exceptional school in Littleton, Colorado and is a member of the following organizations: Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA), the Higher Education Consultants Association (HECA) and the Overseas Association for College Admission Counseling (OACAC).

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