Choosing a Private College Counselor

The New York Times recently reported that the number of registered private college counselors has doubled in the past two years alone, while studies released by the Independent Education Consultants Association (IECA) and others estimate that, in 2013, as many as 25 percent of college applicants hired a private college counselor to guide them through the college admissions process. Private college counseling is a booming and potentially salubrious industry, on which families can rely to receive college-related guidance. However, before purchasing private counseling services, it is important than students and their parents first look into the qualifications, background and credentials of the private college counselor or counselors they are seeking to hire.

Currently, the environment in which private college counselors work is largely unregulated. Organizations such as IECA, the Higher Education Consultants Association (HECA), and the National Association of College Admissions Counseling (NACAC) serve an important function, and have established a series of eligibility requirements and ethical standards to which subscribing private college counselors must adhere; but, at present, they can do little to ensure that private college counselors disseminate accurate and up-to-date advice.  Furthermore, private college counselors are not required to belong to any particular association, and they may launch a business without having received any educational or practical training in higher education, college admissions or private college counseling. Therefore, it is important that families do their “homework” before hiring a private college counselor, and that they ask any potential private counselors the following questions before hiring their services:

What makes you qualified to work as a private college counselor?

Do you have an academic degree or postsecondary certification in college counseling and/or that has specifically prepared you for work as a private college counselor?

As a private college counselor, what services can you provide that my child’s school counselor cannot?

How long have you been working as a private college counselor?

At College Transitions, every one of our private college counselors is ready and prepared to answer each of these questions, and has endured rigorous training in the areas of counseling, higher education and college admissions to qualify as a private college counselor under the College Transitions name.  As higher education researchers and practitioners with over a decade of experience in private college counseling, the private college counselors at College Transitions are intimately familiar with the education and financial contexts in which current students are applying and transitioning to college, and they also possess the knowledge and tools to guide students to and through good-fit colleges where they will thrive and succeed.

The team at College Transitions hopes that you consider working with our private college counselors, but more importantly, we hope that the private college counselor(s) you do ultimately hire has been researched and vetted, and is suitably qualified to offer the college-related guidance that you and/or your student deserves—whomever that private college counselor happens to be.

For more information, please fill out a free consultation request or contact us at [email protected].


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“College Transitions was responsive, establishing a great rapport with our son, and keeping the process moving in a friendly and helpful way...fine tuning the essays, error checking he applications, and available to answer panicked questions almost around the clock. Sam was accepted into his first choice, The University of Chicago, a school that had seemed out of reach at the beginning of the process.”

Susan Hayes, New York, NY

Son Attending University of Chicago
"All the stress and anxiety I had about the college application process was significantly relieved by the guidance and expertise over at College Transitions...I can now say I'm at the school of my dreams..their service far exceeded my expectations and I am extremely glad and fortunate that I came across them."

Paul Yousef, Vienna, VA

Aattending Notre Dame University
"As an only child with parents who never attended college in America, I was completely frightened of the college admissions process. However, College Transitions immediately settled my fears and supported me through every aspect of that process...-I just got back from Bulldog Days at Yale, and I still cannot believe that I was accepted. Thanks to your help, I got to see my dream come true."

Amanda Zhang, Atlanta, GA

Attending Yale University
"Our daughter was dreading the admissions process before we signed on with CT, but her and our fears were quickly laid to rest ...our team was always available and helped us to organize the end, Katy was admitted into several top colleges WITH merit aid. We couldn't be happier!"

S Gupta

Daughter attending USC
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