Choosing a College Counselor

Many high school students will decide to hire an independent college counselor to supplement the support they receive from their high school counselor.

Always setup an initial discussion with any potential counselor. The following questions will help you decide if a particular counselor is right for you.

Independent College Counselor or Group?

You should always ask if the counselor works independently or if they are part of a group. And, if they are part of a group what is everyone’s role?


How often are you able to meet with your counselor? Is this in-person or virtually? Will they be available in between your scheduled meetings? If you are going to hire additional help, be sure that they will be available. Applying to colleges can be overwhelming and stressful.


If services along with cost of services is not presented up front, be sure to ask for this information. College Counselors often offer the following services:

  • College search
  • Final college list
  • Strategy sessions related to:
    • Sending SAT/ACT scores
    • Senior year courses
    • Extracurricular activities
    • Teacher recommendation letters
    • Early decision or early action applications
  • Application and essay review
  • College interview prep
  • FAFSA  and financial aid advice
  • College decisions

Financial Aid?

Will your counselor help you with setting up financial aid? College is not inexpensive and you want to make the right choices for you and your family.


What is the counselors background? Many private counselors have worked in college admissions and are very familiar with the process. Other counselors will have worked at the high school level. Be on the lookout for degrees in counseling and higher education, membership in national organizations like IECA (Independent Educational Consultant Association) or NACAC (National Association for College Admission Counseling), and certification from an accredited counseling program.

Track Record

Which schools did the counselor help students get into? Did students get into their dream schools? What did previous students say about the counselor? You will know if your counselor is a fit if they make you feel good and valuable as well as challenge you to present your best self.