The first step in deciding whether to seek outside services is to assess you individual needs and evaluate the resources available in your own school.
Does your school have counselors who spend a significant amount of time counseling students through the college admission process?
Have the school's counselors received special training through regional or national workshops for college counseling?
Is there a college/career center where you can have access to books, applications, computer programs, and other materials for individual resources?
If the answers to these questions is yes, you may not feel the need to seek additional assistance.
Independent counselors should:
- Insist that student be the sole author of their college application & essays.
- Help the student understand that no one can guarantee admission to any college or have influence on admissions decisions reached by institutions.
- Encourage students to consider a range of institutions for admission, not just emphasizing admission to highly selective or prestigious universitities.
- Educate students about scare tactics used in some marketing campaigns.
Questions to Ask About Professional Qualifications and Experience
- Do you have counseling experience, certification a credential or master's degree in counseling or a counseling related discipline?
- Do you have experience in a high school counseling office or as a college admission officer?
- Do you visit college campuses regularly--locally, regionally and/or nationally?
- Have you attended professionaly directed conferences, college counseling institutes or workshops?
- What national and/or regional professional organizations do you belong to as a college counselor?
- Do you follow a specifc set of professional ethics/standards of practices as a college counselor?
- Do you offer service free of charge or at a reduced rate depending on a family's ability to pay?
*This information was adapted from the NACAC publication "What Parents and Students Should Know About... Independent Counselors, Educational Consultants, and Commercial Counseling Centers." Go to http://www.nacacnet.org/ for more information.