College Financial Aid Consultants – The Truth

Between the relentless barrage of marketing information from college admissions offices  and the pressures relating to the ever-increasing cost of college, many parents feel out-gunned and overwhelmed by the process.  Can you manage it on your own?  My answer may surprise you.

You CAN go it alone, particularly if you have an independent, top student who has seized control of the college planning process, is focused on colleges, majors and careers and likely to earn significant merit-based scholarships.  And it helps if you have a close, tension-free relationship with your child because this process is extremely stressful!

But growing numbers of top students – and involved parents – seek expert advice.  They do so for the same reasons Olympic and other top athletes train with elite coaches – to give them an extra edge over their competition.  Even Tiger Woods has a coach (for golf, not marital relations…sorry for the cheap shot!)

An independent, expert college counselor will navigate parents and children safely around the rocky shoals of this confusing and often-contradictory process, focus the child on the best strategies for choosing and gaining admission to a top college.  He will also help them tune out the conflicting noise from online sources, other parents, peers, contradictory college guides and books and other so-called “expert” sources.  

He will help families avoid costly mistakes and focus them on “best fit” colleges they may never have considered, and suggest “positioning” strategies to multiply chances of admission to competitive colleges.

Many parents hope that their high school guidance counselor will render adequate advice and counsel to them and their child in the disciplines of college finance and admissions.  Frequently, they’re disappointed.  Why?

I have no grudge against guidance counselors. Candidly, I happen to like the vast majority that I meet.   The problem lies with parents’ expectations, in my estimation.

Today’s guidance counselors are overworked and overwhelmed, due to high enrollment and budgetary pressures. They are responsible for several hundred children each, sometimes.  Their responsibilities include “lowest common denominator” tasks such as dealing with truancies, drug use, pregnancies, endless administrative duties and other issues.

Asking them to squeeze in personal attention for a high achieving child is a bit of a stretch.  Or for a child who learns differently.

Many guidance counselors can barely return phone calls, let alone get to know your child well enough to recommend a CUSTOMIZED set of colleges suitable for his or her unique, individual need, desires and goals.  

But this is not the case.  If you feel that you are receiving adequate personal attention from your high school guidance counselor, you do not need a private, independent college consultant.  Although many guidance counselors are overburdened it may not be the case with you.  

But the plain, inconvenient truth is that expecting your high school guidance counselor to produce a set of schools different than the list they gave to the LAST kid with the same grades and scores, is a stretch.  

Asking him to master the nuances of the 1,100 plus pages of Department of Education regulations is folly.