Ask A College Consultant: 5 Things to Know About Applying for Colleges

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College Consultant

Many of my friends and I have spent the past year slogging through the maze of college visits, applications and sleepless nights poring over the Common App. With all the fees associated with applying for and attending college it may seem a bit insane to add the cost of a consultant but after speaking with Jenna Shulman of JS College Consulting it occurs to me that this is money spent wisely to get your child into the proper educational environment and keep you aware of all that is available to them. I asked Jenna to explain how a college consultant works for you!

A college consultant can help students find the best-fitting college to match their academic, social, and financial needs.

With over 3,000 colleges nationwide (and even more worldwide), it is impossible to know every college. Most families only hear about the select few “brand name” colleges and fail to find lesser-known colleges that still fulfill their child’s needs. Independent college consultants often visit 20-30 colleges per year to help students put together a list of schools that will serve them best.

A college consultant can give the individualized personal attention that high school counselors may not have the time for. 

High school schools across the country are struggling with staggering ratios of students to guidance counselors. Nationally, that ratio is nearly 500 to 1, a proportion experts say has remained virtually unchanged for more than 10 years. According to the U.S. Department of Education, public high school students in the U.S. receive an average of just 38 minutes of college counseling per year, making it difficult for students get the attention and customization they will need to apply. College consultants often do this job full-time, taking on a smaller caseload to give their students personal attention year-round.

A college consultant can save money for families.

 It’s been said that college is the 2nd biggest investment after buying a house. Next year, some colleges will reach an $80,000+ price tag…and that is just the annual tuition! But did you know there are billions of dollars in free scholarship money awarded each year? Some of this goes unnoticed, but not to college consultants. They can help find scholarships (both location and national) that match students’ profiles. They also can recommend schools that will allocate merit money based on the student’s academic profile. Every little bit can help.

A college consultant can alleviate stress and emotions among family members. 

With the increased pressure that high school students are facing, it is important to hire someone who can serve as a “mediator” so the process doesn’t have to be so tumultuous between the parents and the student. Many parents also don’t have time to help their child as they have a jam-packed schedule themselves. Therefore, it is helpful to have an expert to guide them along and encourage them to make their own decisions and think about what they want for their future. 

A college consultant can help make a student’s application stand out.

In addition to helping a student build his or her college list, a professional consultant will help guide students on all areas of the college admissions process including the college essay, supplemental essays, resumes, the Common Application, letters of recommendation, course selection, interview prep, and much more. Some colleges (although thankfully not too many) now have acceptances rates lower than 5% and many more students are applying to multiple colleges at once. College consultants are able to find the strengths of each of their students and encourage them to shed light on these unique personality traits in the application process, helping them stand out amongst the competitive application pool. 

I also spoke with Jenna about recent scandals involving celebrity children and college consultants. She stressed that when hiring a college consultant, to make note of their ethics and expertise. She assured me that the consultants involved in the scandals are not a fair representation of most college consultants and it is important for families to do their research before hiring. There are several professional organizations to which consultants might belong, including the Higher Education Consultants Association (HECA), the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA), the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), and state and regional affiliates of NACAC. Doing a bit of research can help you to avoid the consultants whose practices may not be wholly ethical. Reach out to Jenna to learn more at 201.213.9558 or email her at


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