What’s the difference between college admissions coaching and college admissions consulting?

What’s the difference between college admissions coaching and college admissions consulting?

College admissions coaching gives students strategies for getting into college. College admissions consulting teaches students how to prepare for college admissions.

This is the main difference between college admissions coaching and college admissions consulting. This difference may seem small. Some people believe college admissions coaching and college admissions consulting are the same thing.

High school students and their parents/guardians who want to enter their dream schools, whether these are Ivy League schools or top colleges and universities, should consider hiring the services of college admissions coaches or college admissions consultants. But lest you think these professionals are the same, they aren’t!

College admissions coaching gives students strategies for getting into college. College admissions consulting teaches students how to prepare for college admissions. This is the main difference between college admissions coaching and consulting. This difference may seem small.

Inside Higher Education says that college counseling sees the college process as part of a larger quest to help young people figure out who they are and what they care about. Inside Higher Education also says that college coaching is different because it is transactional and results oriented.

But college admissions coaching and college admission counseling have more similarities than differences. The best college admissions consultants and college admissions coaches will both give you a better chance of getting into your top school.

But there’s also the question of why hire the services of either a college admissions coach or college admissions consultant—and these aren’t free—when there are high school guidance counselors with free services.

High school guidance counselors will provide limited guidance on your college and career options, perhaps basic information about the common college admissions process and requirements. But their primary focus is guiding high school students to complete their secondary education and transition to college, so their role as college counselor is very limited.

The college admissions process and requirements can be challenging even for smart high school students, mainly because of their novelty. But it can be less intimidating to deal with a new process, not to mention understand the specifics of the admissions requirements and deadlines, with a college admissions consultant or coach providing relevant information.

young college student on campus

What is a College Admissions Consultant?

A college admissions consultant is an expert on college admissions. College admissions consultants help students get ready for the college admissions process. Many college admissions consultants have work experience as college admissions officers. College admissions consultants can use this experience to teach you what colleges are looking for.

You can get college admissions consultants who work with you as soon as you start high school. College admissions consultants can work with you for months or even years. College admissions consultants can help you choose classes, pick extracurricular activities, get letters of recommendation, provide tips on improving standardized test scores, and much more.

College admissions counseling features a more professional and comprehensive approach to the college application and admission process. As such, high school students receive comprehensive services including but not limited to the following:

  • Detailed assessments of your personal profile including your interests, academic performance, and college preferences. Since these aspects will change over time, working with a college admissions counselor can pay off in the long-term.
  • Development of an individualized college application strategy based on the in-depth assessment.
  • Guidance and support on the selection of schools that best fit your personal profile, as well as the creation of a well-balanced college list.
  • Reminders and other forms of assistance related to the application timelines and deadlines.
  • Note that the preparation for compliance with admissions requirements should start during your senior year, but it’s important to know the deadlines as early as possible. Be sure to consider the deadlines when choosing between early decision, early action, and regular decision. After all, even schools with rolling admissions have deadlines.

  • Preparation for the admissions interview and, in certain colleges and universities, for the production of an admissions video. Mock interviews will be conducted to determine your strengths and weaknesses in this area, which you and your college admission consultant will work on.
  • Advice on financial aid options, such as federal financial aid, internal and external scholarships, and even tax breaks for parents.
  • Strategies for dealing with being waitlisted or put on a deferral list.
  • Advocacy for your personal circumstances, such as physical disabilities, learning disabilities, or giftedness, and extenuating family circumstances.

College admissions consultants can offer such a tailored approach combined with personalized strategic guidance because of their extensive knowledge not just of the admissions process and requirements in general, but also of the specifics among numerous colleges and universities.

Suffice it to say that college consultants aim to establish a long-term relationship with clients, both the students and their parents or guardians, and work toward a common goal.

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What is a College Admissions Coach?

A college admissions coach is somebody who helps students get into college. A college admissions coach does many of the same things as a college admissions counselor. Many college admissions coaches have also worked as college admission officers. You can meet with a college admissions coach for one session or for many sessions.

The personalized services offered by a college admissions coach may be limited in scope compared to a college admissions consultant, but it’s just as valuable for your admission success. Some common services provided by a college admissions coach include:

  • Personalized planning for academic performance and choices in extracurricular activities
  • Brainstorming, feedback and editing of application essays (e.g., personal statement, cover letter, and statement of intent)
  • Guidance in getting acceptable standardized test scores based on your preferred colleges or universities
  • Preparation for interviews
  • Review of application strategy

While college admission coaches typically work with high school seniors on a short-term basis only, they work toward student empowerment, too. Taking ownership of the college admission process and application procedures instead of being intimidated by them can be your path to success in getting accepted by your college of choice.

The bottom line: College admissions coaching can mean the same thing as college admissions consulting. Some companies are called college admissions coaches, but they have the same services as college admissions consultants. A list of the best admissions counselors has both college admissions consultants and college admissions coaches.

high school student meeting with a college admissions consultant

College Admissions Coaching vs. College Admissions Consulting—which one is right for you?

The right choice for you between college admissions coaching and college admissions consulting depends on what you need. College admissions coaches can help you get into a good school. But some college admissions coaches don’t have the same kinds of services as college admissions consultants.

College coaches may be good for students who only need a little help. College admissions coaches can help you with your college essay. College admissions coaches can also help you fill out your applications.

College admissions consultants are better for students who want more college admissions help. A college admissions consultant is good for you if you think you will need help throughout the whole application process.

Admissions consultants will work closely with you while you’re in high school. Admissions consultants can help you pick which classes, activities, and internships that will get noticed by colleges.

College admissions consultants can also help you choose the best college for you. Some college admissions consultants may provide more full service packages than college admissions coaches.

Here’s a more in-depth look at the factors that you should consider when choosing between a college admissions coach and consultant:

Level of guidance you need

If you feel confident about navigating the college application process but you believe that you will benefit from the personalized guidance and support, then go for a college admissions coach. If you want more comprehensive services and a strategic approach, particularly if you’re aiming for an Ivy League university, then a college admission consultant is your best choice.

Financial budget

With college admissions consulting being more comprehensive in scope and longer in duration, it’s more expensive than college admissions coaching. Take a hard look at your family’s financial situation before making your choice, but remember that a college counselor will be worth the cost if you’re accepted into your college of choice.

College goals

If you only need expert assistance in creating and presenting a persuasive application packet, then a college admissions coach will suffice. But if you want your college and career goals to align with your choice in a university, then we suggest hiring a college consultant.

Time constraints

College admissions coaching may have a short-term aspect to it but it usually involves more frequent interactions, and you will benefit from it if you want consistent feedback. With an independent educational consultant, the consultations may be less frequent (i.e., more flexible schedules for meetings) but these are more comprehensive and conducted over a longer period.

Bottom Line: Indeed, there isn’t a right or wrong answer because your answer will depend on your unique needs and wants in relation to the professional services offered by college admissions coaches and consultants.

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Are college admissions consultants worth it?

Yes, college admissions consultants are worth it. But you have to choose the right college admissions consultant. College admissions consultants can be affordable or expensive. You can hire a college admissions consultant to help you for a few months or a few years. You have many different options. If you can afford a college admissions consultant, it will help you get into your top schools. The extra help, support and knowledge can make a big difference on your college application. This makes it worth it!

high school student meeting with a college admissions coach
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What should I know before picking a college admissions consultant or college admissions coach?

You should know to be careful before picking your college admissions consultant. Make sure you are choosing a college admissions coach with a good reputation. The recent Varsity Blues Scandal shows how important it is to choose a college admissions consultant carefully. The Varsity Blues Scandal involved Rick Singer. Rick Singer claimed to be a college admissions consultant but helped students cheat to get into college. This shows how important it is to choose a good college admissions consultant. Make sure you choose a college admissions consultant that is certified by a real education association. These are education associations that certify college admissions consultants:

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How do I start looking for a college admissions consultant?

The best way to start looking for a college admissions consultant is to find somebody near you. Many college admissions consultants only work with students in their state.

This is a great option if you want to go to a school near you. It’s also a great option because it’s easier to have face to face consultation. High school students have very little face to face time with school guidance counselors. Finding a college admissions consultant in your state is a great way to get more personal admissions guidance.

But even when you have a list of the certified college admissions consultants or college admissions coaches, you must perform the following steps to choose the best one for you!

Determine Your Needs and Wants

Be specific about your college-related strengths and weaknesses, interests, and aspirations because these will not only be the basis of choosing the best college admissions advisor but also in choosing the best school and college major! Ask yourself about the specific type of college admissions-related assistance you will need and compare it to the services offered by these professionals.

Ask for Recommendations.

Your teachers, high school guidance counselor, family, and friends who have gone to college are excellent sources of information about college admissions consultants and coaches.

Check the Official Websites of College Admissions Professionals

We live in the Digital and Information Age so the best college admissions coaches and consultants have official websites that potential clients can check out for information. Be sure to review their professional backgrounds, experiences and qualifications, as well as ask for more information about their services. Prompt and appropriate responses combined with transparency about their services (i.e., scope and fees) are excellent parameters of their reliability.

Be sure to ask for client testimonials and references, too! If necessary, you should contact the client references and ask relevant questions to determine if, indeed, you will get the best value for your money.

Don’t hire the first college admission counselor that you feel will offer excellent value! Like any product and service on the market that you’re testing out for the first time, you should ideally make comparisons between professionals.

Lastly, trust your instincts! This may sound like old-fashioned advice but you must feel comfortable and confident in your professional relationship with either a college admissions coach or consultant. Otherwise, it may not be worth the time, energy and money.

Get additional tips on finding, applying to, and getting into the best school for you with a look at our College Admissions homepage.

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