by Dave Best – Galin Education College Counselor
With the Internet, many people now believe they can “do it yourself” (DIY). Perhaps you know a neighbor, friend, or family member who has tested out the do it alone route rather than utilizing expert guidance. Let me share a few examples, including college planning, comparing how DIY works versus leveraging professional support.
Although you didn’t go to Medical School, would you visit WebMD to “self diagnose” your symptoms? So rather than utilizing a licensed medical doctor, you would log onto your computer and rely on a website to essentially teach yourself about various potential medical conditions? If you choose that route to learn it alone, you will see the following disclaimer: “This tool does not provide medical advice. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.”
What if you did not earn an accounting degree and are not a CPA, should you prepare and file your own taxes? Tax experts can add value especially for their clients with more complex situations. Business owners can benefit from tax planning advice including upcoming tax law changes. For those who have basic tax returns, DIY tax software can be purchased, which can save some money versus hiring a tax professional. However, pursuing the do it alone path involves an investment of your time, a commitment to understanding tax laws, plus agreeing to being the point person with the IRS if they have any questions on your return.
What about finding a college for your child? Should you manage the process yourself, while getting some school ideas from guidance counselors during school hours, as well as friends and family? Perhaps you can also look online for ideas. For some students including those staying local this strategy can work well.
Independent College Consultants can benefit students who want individualized attention from a skilled professional to choose a college that is a good personal match. These college experts have firsthand knowledge of hundreds of schools as well as the time to explore the best options for their students.
Let’s review how students benefit in the college planning process by hiring an expert:
Managing the College Application Process
Rather than battling your child to complete their college applications, imagine adding a trusted resource who will systematically walk your child personally through each step of the application process including targeting schools, creating an activities resume, writing essays and completing applications. Adding structure and someone besides you to manage the process can significantly reduce anxiety and stress in your home and better enable you to enjoy your child.
It can be beneficial to select an Independent College Consultant who is a member of a recognized association, such as the Independent Education Consultants Association (IECA). IECA members typically have Master’s Degrees, are experienced consulting students for admissions, and consistently visit and assess a significant number of schools annually.
Targeting the Best Fit Schools
Independent College Consultants can help broaden your child’s list based on their extensive knowledge of schools. Beyond in-state public options, these experts can suggest schools to review that fit your child based on factors such as curriculum, location and cost. Because these college consultants are dedicated to your son or daughter with regularly scheduled meetings, these possibilities can be reviewed and discussed in great detail. Additionally, college affordability can be analyzed to match your family’s financial circumstances, so that anticipated net cost based on financial aid and merit scholarships can be prioritized over sticker price. Your Independent College Consultant can also help your child compete for lucrative merit scholarships and prepare for campus interviews.
Presenting the Student
Utilizing an Independent College Consultant can provide a huge advantage for your child in how they are presented to the schools. As the essays narrate your child’s story in their own voice, it can be beneficial to work with an expert that understands what admissions readers are looking for.
Most high school students are taught how to write in a specified format to present facts, be grammatically correct and not make spelling mistakes. College application essays are entirely different and the supplemental essays also require strategy.
To gain a leg up in the admissions process wouldn’t it be great if your child’s essays were memorable? Imagine the benefits if their narrative helped them stand out in a competitive applicant pool.
Evaluating Acceptances / Making a Final Decision
A good initial outcome in the college admissions process is to have several acceptances from your target schools to choose from. Independent College Consultants can help you score each school personally to the attributes that are the most important to your child. Additionally, your dedicated expert can help you to evaluate the financial offers and understand each line item in the package. Strategic communication with the schools might be recommended if your top school perhaps needs further detail that might improve their aid package.