College Admissions Assistance: 3 Reasons to Hire a Consultant

Wondering how to get into college? No doubt you’ve realized it isn’t as simple as A to B. We wouldn’t blame you for being overwhelmed by the looming heap of essays, activities, campus visits, interviews, deadlines, and decisions. It might feel like you’ve got 99 problems… and applying to college is every single one of them.

If you’re here, you’ve heard the soothing promises of Admissions Consulting companies with starry-eyed words like “Ivy” and “Prep” in their names. You may have been impressed by the school shortlists they tote, and you know enough to steer clear of those who dangle hints about college admissions being akin to insider trading (care to comment, FBI?).

And if you’ve heard of College Admissions Consultants, you’ve also heard that their services are far from cheap. Plenty of kids get into college without them–so what’s the big deal?

In asking that question, you’re ahead of the curve. Healthy skepticism is a hallmark of a successful college student. We’ve put a lot of thought into this same question: it’s core to the work we love. And, leaving existentialism at the door, we’ve come up with some thoughts worth sharing.

The first–not to mention the most important, and most obvious–is that Admissions Consulting isn’t for everyone. There are countless factors, both practical and emotional, that drive a family toward or away from hiring a college admissions consultant.

This article breaks down these factors, and reveals what College Admissions Consultants should be promising–as well as what they shouldn’t be. By the time you finish reading, we hope you’ll feel fully equipped to sort through the static and set the right expectations for the service you deserve.

1. Relieve the College Application Stress

No sane parent wants to play helicopter for months on end, nagging resentful offspring about essays and test scores. On the flipside, most high schoolers cringe at the prospect of researching, planning, and handling every detail of the daunting application process solo. Adding gas to the fire, school counseling offices are often overloaded and understaffed.

So families turn to outside help. Easy, right? Ms. or Mr. Consultant, step up and whack-a-mole those anxieties away.

Not quite. Work is called work for a reason, and college application done right requires a healthy balance of stress and composure. While we view “positive” stress as an indication that someone is serious about achieving their ambitions, the drastic downsides of negative stress (the generic, crippling variety) are obvious. 

When mulling over whether to hire an Admissions Consultant in order to relieve stress, here’s what to expect, and what not to expect:

Expect:

Together, these two expectations ensure consistency and execution. With detailed planning and regular communication, you should never be worried about falling behind.

Don’t Expect:

2. Develop a Strategy for Tackling the Undergraduate Admissions Process

Did you hear that the Harvard and MIT acceptance rates increased for the class of 2024? Can you capitalize on competitive Early Decision acceptance rates being 10-15% higher than those for Regular Decision? And what does the trend toward Restrictive Early Action mean for applicants?

The funny thing about college admissions is that, while a family may endure the process several times, the vast majority of students go through it just once. And though no student has time to become a full-fledged admissions expert, rumors and legends abound. You probably heard about the alumna who ranked fifth in her graduating class but got into MIT and Yale, or the boy who went to Brown despite failing chemistry. Parents and peers have whispered about how they gamed the system, and how you could, too.

But now, as the world and Higher Education reel from COVID, it’s more vital than ever to avoid rumor. The rules are changing, fast. When seeking college admissions assistance, you want someone who can think from both your perspective and the perspective of an Admissions Committee – no matter the crisis at hand.

Expect:

Finally, they should think broadly at first and be ready to narrow as transcripts, test scores, awards and activities flow in. Only then will they be able to streamline the right list for you come deadline season.

Don’t Expect:

3. Tell the Right Story in Each Application

As more schools go test-optional, and top schools extend supplemental essays to obscene lengths, crafting a cohesive personal narrative has become increasingly essential. In many ways, this goes hand-in-hand with developing a strategy: to know where you’re going, you ought to know where you’ve been.

One intriguing new wrench in college application storytelling is the fact that stories may now be found whether students like it or not. In a world where teenage TikTok accounts preempt White House press releases, is it so surprising that Admissions Officers are taking to the internet to bolster their scouting?

Yet, though social media and technology are providing more and more avenues of attack for storytelling, they have not yet supplanted traditional methods like the Personal Statement. To create a compelling portrait, college admissions consultants must help a student discover the experiences and values most meaningful to them, then communicate these with gripping authenticity. 

Expect:

Don’t Expect:

So, what’s the takeaway?

Our aim is that this article helps readers make two distinct decisions:

1. Whether to hire a college admissions consultant.

Did one or more of the reasons outlined above resonate with you? Is your family in a position to devote time and money to this crucial step toward your future?

If not, you may be content with the resources already at your disposal, or the programs well within your reach. We’re happy you’re covered.

If yes, you’re ready to find yourself a consultant. Which leads to decision two…

2. Which consultant to hire.

Most consultants (read: all good consultants) offer initial consultations for free. They might frame these conversations as an assessment of your background and goals, but they’re also a chance for you to grill the person on the other end of the phone or table.

Use this article to ask punchy questions that matter. Do their answers hold up to scrutiny? Do they dodge hard truths? What can you learn about their process, not just their success stories?


Did you know….

The Menlo Coaching team includes people who have taught at UC Berkeley, Stanford and Cambridge and know a lot about top undergraduate programs. They bring their expertise into our signature approach, combining a suite of proven techniques with fresh insight into the college admissions process to provide a select cohort of students with exceptional coaching.

Ready to jump in?

If you want to work with a dedicated consultant who’s proud to deliver the best sides of college admissions assistance for every family, get in touch. We’re excited to meet you, swap stories with you, and guide you through a transformation. To save your spot, contact us today at [email protected].