Here are the top 30 college admissions consultant agencies in America. Learn to understand the difficulty of determining how one agency is actually better than the other — those that have the right balance between the quantity of students and the quality of service that each student gets.
While this article presents the top 30 college admissions consultants in America, it’s important to understand the difficulty of determining how one agency is actually better than the other. While larger companies can take on more students, do not be fooled by size. There is a balance between the quantity of students a college admissions consultant can take on and the quality of service each student gets. Not all companies offer the same services in the same packages, so a direct comparison between companies is not the most informative way to measure quality.
For a deep understanding of what makes an education consulting company great and how to pick one, see my article on How to Choose a College Admissions Consultant
This article will not present a numerical ranking of companies. Instead, it will cluster and alphabetize companies based on geographical location. Location is pertinent because companies based in region ABC will understand the characteristics that admissions officers look for in students from high schools in that region. This is not to say that good consulting companies lack strategies for finding insights into local biases anywhere in the nation. I, for instance, am based in California but I’ve helped high schoolers from all over the US, UK, and Asia. There is, however, an edge that consultants gain from having worked with many students in the same region.
College Coach has a team of 30 college prep consultants, each of whom is a former senior admissions officer at a college or university. In addition, College Coach has 14 financial aid consultants, which suggests this college prep agency is particularly serious about financial aid help.
Their website devotes a significant amount of space to financial aid as well as considerations about finding the right
fit for each student. The site makes little mention of famous universities. This suggests that College Coach is likely true to its brand, helping students find the right fit rather than just convincing families that their college-bound children won’t amount to anything unless they attend “a famous school.” College Coach is the only agency in my research for this article that specifically lists “College Tuition Payment Planning” as one of their financial aid services.
College Coach offers its services as a comprehensive package or as a base package with customizable modules that can be added. They also offer a time-based comprehensive package, which allows flexibility for clients who need help in certain areas more than others.
College Coach offers Financial Aid consultation as a standalone package, which is convenient for families who only seek this particular service. The financial aid department maintains two resources on common questions: their Insider Blog; and their weekly podcast — Getting In: A College Coach Conversation.
Originally founded in New Zealand in 2013, Crimson Education is one of the most exciting and fastest-growing college prep consulting agencies. Crimson boasts a team of 2,400 expert strategists, tutors, and mentors, most of whom are based at top-ranked universities in the US and UK. This diversity of talent allows them to pair each student with the right team based on learning styles, aspirations, similarities, etc. With its in-house tutors, Crimson offers preparation for the following test categories: AP, IB, SAT, SAT Subject, ACT, and international exams.
Mentors work 1-on-1 to help students do capstone projects, including building an app, founding a nonprofit, launching businesses, crafting community service initiatives, and conducting international research. For students looking to conduct research, the Crimson Research Institute (CRI) offers qualified students the opportunity to complete an in-depth, independent research paper or project with hands-on guidance from PhDs and top university faculty. CRI students complete their own small, independent research project in a specific discipline, source potential publishers, and obtain patents or copyrights.
Crimson maintains several impressive libraries of information. The first is the largest education YouTube channel on the web, maintained solely by Crimson! The channel is hosted by two Harvard graduates who have also written for Netflix and appeared on Amazon Prime comedy specials. The channel has over 20 million views, 140,000 subscribers, and 1 million hours of content viewed.
The second information source is a public database of over 1,800 extracurricular opportunities around the world, called CrimsonECL.com. The Third is Unfiltered TV–a library of over 2,500 videos accessible only to Crimson students. This database features material from the world’s best entrepreneurs, politicians, generals, thought leaders, and astronauts, which is sure to enlighten and inspire high school students to reach for the stars.
Crimson also has programs that help high school seniors transition into college after getting accepted. Dubbed the Crimson Collegiate Service (CCS), this program provides access to top-notch preparatory curricula taught and designed by professors and graduates from Johns Hopkins, Stanford, Harvard, and Oxford.
C2 Education is the largest college prep and tutoring company in the USA. It is a one-stop-shop for college prep, tutoring, and test prep. Its consulting model emphasizes strategic course selection; choosing extracurricular activities that showcase passion and talent; participating in summer programs that promote student growth, and writing great personal statements.
C2 offers online, self-paced, for-credit AP courses that are blended with in-person tutoring — a program it calls AP Complete. These accredited online courses come with 30 hours of live tutoring to supplement the digital content. Their AP course offerings include: Biology, Calculus AB, Calculus BC, Chemistry, English Language & Composition, English Literature & Composition, Environmental Science, Psychology, Statistics, US Government & Politics, US History, and World History.
C2’s tutors must score above the 95th percentile in their subject areas in order to qualify for teaching that subject. Their teaching emphasizes foundations in three core areas: math, reading, and writing. For the SAT and ACT tests, C2 offers intensive summer boot camps that are either 50 or 80 hours. C2 has developed its own curriculum and content, which includes practice tests to gauge a student’s progress. Their programs include 2-hours of 1-on-1 time with an instructor so students can receive personalized advice on college application strategies.
It would be misleading to compile the top college admissions agencies in the USA without mentioning the high-quality work of single-member agencies. College admissions consultants who work alone or with only one person should not be underestimated. They have to be good enough to keep getting referrals, so their reputation is heavily dependent on their quality. For a discussion of pros and cons of large firms versus single-member agencies, see my article on How to Choose a College Admissions Consultant.
Beyond Education Consulting, also known as BEEC, is the only college consulting agency that has special program consultants who focus on life coaching, nutrition, leadership, and career development. These special program consultants do not work on college prep, but bring decades of experience as CEOs of Fortune 500 companies or through their work with professional athletes. BEEC’s stellar lineup of career and performance psychology professionals sets them apart from the pack. These special programs consultants provide support to college prep consultants who work 1-on-1 with students.
BEEC’s philosophy is that trust, care, and personal attention are required to truly connect with a student. This level of trust is critical if a student is to receive and execute on his or her personal mentor’s advice. BEEC believes in college prep through a teamwork model, rather than a team model. This is because, though mentorship is done on a 1-on-1 basis, team leaders also actively communicate with parents on a regular basis. This allows students to develop deep 1-on-1 relationships with their college prep mentors, while also benefiting from a wider network of active help.
BEEC also provides internship placements for its students through its exclusive network of 60 distinguished professionals, ranging from professors to business leaders to medical and legal professionals. BEEC boasts a 100% success rate in placing students in internships that match career interests. Clearly, this is a major plus.
BEEC offers test prep and tutoring from its own team of instructors, all of whom are vetted for their ability and willingness not just to teach but also to nurture. BEEC also offers tutors who teach SAT, ACT, SAT Subject Tests, or AP courses.
BEEC’s website is also multilingual, offering site content in English, Chinese, or Korean. This means that a significant portion of BEEC’s clients are not-native English speakers. This is a bonus for clients, especially parents who may be more proficient in Chinese or Korean than in English.
College Zoom is the only independent college consulting agency invited to present seminars alongside the University of Southern California’s (USC) undergraduate admissions office. It has been featured on the Fox and CBS news stations, and also in the Los Angeles Times. In 2012, College Zoom was awarded a development grant from USC, funding its mission to provide ethical support to students with lower grades and SAT/ACT scores who aspire to enroll at highly selective colleges.
College Zoom’s secret to success is its profound understanding of the features that make a student appear both competitive and compatible to admissions officers. To the surprise of many parents, competitive fit isn’t just about a high GPA or high test scores. This is why College Zoom boasts the ability to get students with GPAs in the 3.4 range into top universities. To the surprise of many parents, competitive fit isn’t just about a high GPA or high test scores. This is why College Zoom boasts the ability to get students into top universities, even when their grades and test scores are below average for admitted students at each university. This demonstrates that College Zoom knows exactly what it’s doing.
Another feature that makes College Zoom effective is its unique approach to hiring consultants. It boasts that no former admissions officer has ever made it past the first round of interviews. College Zoom hires based on mentoring, critical thinking, and writing abilities. College Zoom developed its own training system on effective writing, not for their students, but for their consultants.
FLEX has been guiding students since 2001, boasting 14 consultants and 1 essay instructor. FLEX takes a team approach to consulting, teaching students to look beyond themselves to become contributors to society. Consultants include former admissions officers, who handle strategy, and essay specialists, who help students with personal statements. Other team members may assist with interviews and other dimensions of the admissions process. FLEX’s secret sauce is their Info Bank, a repository that has drawn knowledge from admissions experts and industry partnerships since 2001.
FLEX offers two packages for college prep. The first is geared towards 8th-11th graders and emphasizes course selection, extracurricular activities, standardized testing, and leadership skills. This program also emphasizes the development of intellectual vitality. For 12th graders, FLEX has a package called Application and College Essay (ACE), which begins the summer before senior year. This service helps students polish their application package and select the right major. An essay specialist works with the student to guide the writing process. The final product is then reviewed by a panel of admissions experts from the FLEX Info Bank.
FLEX also helps students choose between the SAT or ACT by evaluating their abilities and matching them to the test on which they are most likely to succeed. FLEX test prep programs include 1-on-1 tutoring, small groups, or class settings. These programs can be as short as one week or span an entire year to match the student’s needs. FLEX develops its own test prep curriculum and requires that instructors score in the top 1% in the subject that they teach. Teachers also receive training in classroom management methodologies.
The HS2 Academy website boasts a team of 25 consultants and 26 instructors. Their consultants have degrees from Harvard, UC Berkeley, USC, Duke University, Cornell, Pomona, and Columbia. Their consulting philosophy emphasizes healthy study skills, time management, and stress management. They offer the Highlands Ability Battery Test to help students match students with personalized learning methods and suitable career paths. Based on the languages used in their online course schedules, one can deduce that a significant portion of their clients are Chinese-and Korean-speaking families. This is a bonus for clients, especially parents who may be more proficient in Chinese or Korean than in English.
HS2 has an exclusive partnership with University of California - Riverside that allows HS2 students to take college courses for college credit. HS2 also has a similar partnership with a private high school in the Los Angeles area, which offers online AP courses for credit in Human Geography, Psychology, and Biology. HS2 also offers non-credit online classes to supplement high school curricula, including AP courses in Calculus BC, US History, World History, European History, Physics, and Statistics.
HS2 hosts its own West Coast college tours, which visit 11 popular schools in California. This service is advantageous for families that do not want to plan their own trip and who want the convenience of a personal guide while visiting.
Ilumin emphasizes a combination of college consulting and life coaching. According to their website, Ilumin uses
scientifically-proven skills assessments and results-oriented coaching to
not only help students figure out their college major, but become more motivated and mature individuals.
Indeed, this is the key to academic success. The types of students who get into the top tier schools are often very disciplined and mature compared to their peers. This student must be more than just book smart. Ilumin understands that a consultant must first build trust with the student in order to help motivate the student towards personal transformation.
The Ilumin team consists of ten consultants, eight essay specialists, and one interview specialist. They offer two service packages for college prep, providing coaching services to students prior to senior year, and offering college application support for high school seniors. For freshman to juniors, they offer strategic course planning, detailed standardized test planning, and extracurricular planning that emphasizes personal growth. Seniors who are soon applying to college will focus on creating compelling personal statements. Ilumin also helps seniors create great resumes, and provides strategic support as they piece together personal application details in a way that maximizes the chances of acceptance. Ilumin also offers a final review of applications with each student before submission.
Ready Edge Go was founded by a former stock trader turned Google Business Development Executive, who left a lucrative career to make a positive difference for future generations. Ready Edge Go brings a long-overdue approach to college prep, teaching students to think independently rather than emphasizing the need to get into a top-ranked university. Ready Edge Go teaches students to ask,
What do I want to do during my time here in this world? instead of,
How can I get into a top-ranking college?
Ready Edge Go sees itself like an In-N-Out Burger. Like the popular California fast-food chain, they only have three menu items, but they do them very well. They offer mentorship for course selection, leadership development, and extracurricular prep. For seniors, they offer college application help. For testing, they offer hybrid small groups & 1-on-1 sessions, or purely 1-on-1 sessions. Their philosophy is that test prep should be individualized, not delivered to a classroom of students.
Student-facing employees at Ready Edge Go are vetted for competence, compassion, and passion. Every employee brings student-facing experience, a unique perspective, and a strong body of knowledge. Another feature that sets Ready Edge Go apart from other companies is its emphasis on how it treats its own employees. Their
people are humans first, then employees last philosophy is meant to foster genuine student-centric service. Ready Edge Go believes that if staff members are stressed out, they aren’t in a strong position to reduce stress for their mentees.
Veritas Prep has been in the college consulting business for 15 years. Veritas has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg Business, The The New York Times, Forbes, U.S. News, Financial Times, Chicago Tribune, and Inc. They have a highly curated team of admissions consultants, who are hired with the minimum requirement of actual evaluation experience at an Ivy Plus admission office, including Harvard, Stanford, Yale, Princeton, and MIT. Their philosophy is that no two students are the same, so a consultant has to really
get the student in order to help that student succeed. Their technology platform keeps consultants, students, and parents connected in real-time, which makes it easier for families to monitor progress and roadblocks.
Veritas Prep separates its college prep consulting services into three main tracks:
First is a comprehensive college application service available to sophomores and above which includes flexible time with a team of experts covering different angles: academics, athletics, and financial aid. The service begins at the time of enrollment and lasts until the final commitment to a first-choice college in May of senior year, all for one flat rate.
Second, Veritas provides an hourly service matching each student with a Head Consultant, who provides targeted intervention in packages of 3 hours or more.
Lastly, there is a standalone final review service for those ready to submit their applications.
Veritas Prep offers in-house test prep and maintains the highest standards for their tutors. Every instructor must have an official test score in the 99th percentile in the subject that they teach. Veritas has also designed its own SAT curriculum and offers flexible formats for test prep. These formats include live online classes, on-demand self-paced classes, and 1-on-1 online tutoring.
One of the special features of Before College Consulting is its focus on helping student-athletes get into college. Athletic scholarships and athletic recruiting are a sub-specialty in the college prep industry because there are different deadlines and specific rules that students need to know. The founder of Before College Consulting is a former collegiate athlete and coach, so he knows the special circumstances faced by student-athletes and understands what different levels of collegiate athletic competition entail. There are specific strategies for applying to college through the various student-athlete tracks, so an experienced consultant is a huge advantage.
Before College Consulting offers a seminar that walks families through the applications process, including where to get scholarships and how to avoid unnecessary debt. They also offer 1-on-1 consulting on the college application process and how to get more financial aid.
College Bound Consulting has a team of 10 consultants and has served numerous high schools in the Chicago area. College Bound knows this region and its schools particularly well, which means they also know what preferences each college has for high schoolers in their area. College Bound Consulting focuses on personal connection with their students. This allows them to find the right college fit.
The College Bound website discusses setting realistic goals, especially as students put together the list of colleges where they’ll be applying. This approach underscores the College Bound goal of removing unnecessary stress from the application process. College Bound Consulting has its own network of tutors, so referrals are made strictly to trusted tutors who have done a good job in the past.
College Bound Consulting is also the only agency considered for this article whose website notes that their consultants travel
several times a year to dozens of universities around the country to better understand the landscape, allowing us to make more precise recommendations for our clients.
This kind of dedication means that they have a very real feel for the many great colleges out there.
Note: As of February 2022, the team at Atlanta Education Consultants has retired.
Unlike other companies that promote the ability to get their students into famous universities, College Inroads promotes the fact that
there are 2,400 4-year universities that have a place for everyone. This is the company of choice for families who wish to avoid the rat race of vying for limited spots at the Ivy League schools. There are many factors for a family to consider when deciding where to send their children to college.
College Inroads offers a structured roadmap that begins with an assessment of the student’s personality and testing ability. What follows are meetings to find the right college fit for a student, to plan strategies for improving a student’s academic profile, and to discuss financial aid matters before applications and after acceptances. College Inroads has an online test prep program and is connected to a network of local tutoring companies.
College Transitions hires counselors who have worked on
both sides of the gate — as high school counselors and administrators, and as college admission representatives. Their consultants are published researchers, having authored articles on the college-related effects of counseling, the predictors of selective college admission, test-optional policies, and education debt. They are the only college prep company in the USA to have published in higher education’s top journals. College Transitions boasts the publication of two well-reviewed books, The Enlightened College Applicant and the newly released Colleges Worth Your Money. Finally, given their quantitative background, they believe that they are more data-driven than most other providers.
College Transitions has 14 consultants on staff, as well as a team of essay coaches and college interview specialists. These consultants previously served as admission officers at some of the most selective colleges throughout the USA, including Duke, Stanford, Dartmouth, Pomona, Swarthmore, and Johns Hopkins.
Their fundamental objective is to guide students into colleges that are a good personal fit, schools where students can thrive and effectively pursue both personal and professional goals. College Transitions believes that the college admissions process should be about more than just admission. They value personal growth and self-discovery as much as selectivity. By doing so, they hope to bring perspective and sanity to college planning.
College Transitions also provides advice on how to secure competitive and non-competitive funding to attend their target colleges. Financial aid guidance includes advice on how to complete and process financial aid forms, how to apply for private scholarships, and what strategies to employ for winning merit-based aid.
Dallas Admissions applies corporate marketing strategies to help students develop their personal brand when applying to college. Different companies call it different things, but personal branding is the key to standing out. Dallas Admissions highlights individual strengths while focusing on academic and career goal setting. They offer their consulting service in four different packages, depending on how much personal interaction is desired. This is convenient for those who only want guidance on core principals or those who want a full analysis of the roadmap.
Dallas Admissions offers four different test prep packages for the SAT and ACT that differ based on how many hours of 1-on-1 tutoring are involved. Their larger packages conveniently include college planning.
Prepory’s team leverages over 100 years of collective admissions experience. Their team is made up of multi-degree academics, former university faculty, former admissions officers, Ivy League writing coaches, and graduates from the nation’s most selective schools. Each college coach is trained on the holistic college admissions process and is matched with clients based on availability and their academic interests. Prepory’s program assigns each family to a college admissions coach that will guide them through the entirety of their program. Their online platform, MyPrepory, connects students, parents, and consultants for regular progress checks.
Prepory’s programs are tailored to each student through a personalized program syllabus that outlines every advising session’s milestones and learning objectives. The student and college admissions coach meet for hour-long sessions to address their progress on extracurricular involvement, building their college list, writing their college essays, requesting letters of recommendation, and curating a winning college application.
The Shumsky Center has been featured in The The New York Times, Money Magazine, The Houston Chronicle, and ABC News. In their 25 years of consulting, they have worked with superstar students, great athletes, derailed students, and students with learning disabilities. Their separate service packages are a reflection of their understanding that each teen has different areas of need. They have summer programs focused just on
Study Skills and Methods,
Life Management Skills, or
The Teen Independence Program.
Indeed, these are crucial aspects to being both a great student and a successful college applicant. However, these features are often overlooked for students grappling with low GPAs or test scores. The Shumsky Center boasts a powerful combination: the expertise of college admissions officers coupled with a team of psychologists’ patience and insight.
The Shumsky Center partners with psychologists to assess students for learning disabilities and tailor academic plans that work for them. This streamlined teamwork is invaluable for families whose children have, or think they might have, learning disabilities.
The Shumsky Center also offers test prep for standardized tests, and summer preview courses to help students prepare for difficult courses in the coming year.
The Founder of Expert Admissions has been featured on NBC, CBS, Good Morning America, Inside Edition, CTGN, and Fox 5 News. Print media mentions include The The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Bloomberg, USA Today, and The Boston Globe. Needless to say, Expert Admissions is recognized as one of the top college consulting agencies in the nation.
Expert Admissions is a team of three consultants and four writing specialists. Their consultants include former admissions officers from Columbia University and University of Chicago. They have a strong record of helping students get into Columbia and NYU, as well as many other top schools. Expert Admissions has a scholarship program that offers free college prep for deserving students.
Expert Admissions’ staff includes a Director of Spanish Services and a Manager of Spanish Services & Outreach, which is a bonus for families who are more proficient in Spanish than English.
InGenius Prep has 150 college admissions consultants, all of whom were former admissions officers from top universities, such as Harvard, Yale, MIT, Brown, Johns Hopkins, and many more. They employ a tag-team model in which students are matched with a pair of mentors: a former admissions officer and a graduate coach.
InGenius Prep offers two special programs that are gems for school students. One is the Academic Mentorship program with professors, researchers, or scholars at top universities. Each student does an individualized capstone project and gets the chance to nurture a relationship with an established intellectual. This training relationship can result in a valuable letter of recommendation for college apps and beyond.
The second special program is a writing class that pairs students 1-on-1 with an Ivy League Teaching Fellow. Through this program, which is developed for students whose first language is not English, students practice academic writing through 16 online sessions across eight weeks. Programs like this often teach a form of writing that is not emphasized in the traditional high school classroom outside of the U.S.
InGenius Prep separates its college prep service into three packages. The package for 9th-11th graders is called Candidacy Building and involves course selection, test planning, and extracurricular planning. InGenius Prep offers three levels of service under this package that differ based on how much 2-on-1 and 1-on-1 time is included.
For 12th Graders, there is a package called Application Counseling. This package also includes three distinct levels of service differing by how many applications a student receives help on and how much personal attention is desired. Lastly, for 12th graders who only want help near the end of the application process, there is a package called Final Review. A former admissions officer edits your application and makes suggestions for improvement.
IvyWise is a team of 20 college prep consultants, each of whom has at least three years of experience as a Dean and/or Director of Undergraduate admissions at a top university. IvyWise also has a special consultant just for study skills, and a special consultant just for financial aid. IvyWise’s tutoring department is a separate team of 26 people, most of whom have degrees from Ivy League schools. More importantly, most of the tutors have over 1–10 years of teaching experience!
IvyWise does 1-on-1 college prep consulting and offers short-term and long-term service packages. They offer comprehensive planning packages starting from 9th grade, as well as short boot camps just for seniors. One of their secret weapons is the IvyWise Roundtable. This is a panel-style review of each senior’s college application that replicates the discussions within admissions offices.
IvyWise also has an administrative staff of 22 people. This more robust administrative staff allows consultants and tutors to focus entirely on their core student support functions. The fact that they boast six employees in the Client Relations department is also a major plus. The larger the company, the greater the need for regular quality assurance. IvyWise maintains a staff equal to this challenge.
Marks Education is a team of eight education consultants and 20 tutors. Their team consists of former college admissions officers, college counselors, and academic advisors. Their model works 1-on-1 with students to make choices that minimize stress and maximize student performance. The Marks Education approach involves gathering real-time data by speaking with contacts within universities to understand changing priorities in admissions offices.
Marks Education believes that no two students are alike and that the first question to ask a student is
What do you like to do? instead of
What college do you want to go to? Their strategic plan for each student centers around the student’s interests, which they believe is the crucial first ingredient for success.
Marks Education has published its own comprehensive guide to the SAT and four original practice tests. Their tutors meet 1-on-1 online with students. They can help with pretty much any test that a junior high schooler and high schooler would encounter in the USA. They place significant emphasis on helping a student decide between the SAT or ACT, which are different tests that students should carefully consider.
Preminente is a team of 23 college prep consultants who also have specialties in areas such as theater, career guidance, professional editing, and athletic recruitment. The fact that they have a Director of Athletic Recruitment says a lot about their ability to serve a sizable number of student-athletes.
Preminente’s core services are divided into three packages for 11th-12th grades; 10th-12th grades; or all 4 years of high school. These core services include course selection, test planning, and extracurricular planning. They also help families plan their college visits.
Preminente stands apart from other companies for its Additional Services. They have a workshop specifically for students building a fine arts or architecture portfolio. They have an academic writing and editing service to help students with research papers. They provide workshops on how to communicate with professors, manage time, and get internships. They also have workshops specifically for student-athletes.
The founders of Top Tier Admissions have been featured in The The New York Times, Business Week, and The Oprah Winfrey Show. They are also authors of Don’t Worry, You’ll Get In and have spent years in the Dartmouth admissions office. Top Tier Admissions offers a
4-day Application Boot Camp that guides participants through the Common App, personal essays, and application strategy. This camp also provides exclusive resources about summer camps and best practices. For those who want personal attention, a 3-day 1-on-1 version of this camp is also available.
Top Tier Admission’s comprehensive college prep package for 8th-12th graders includes the core elements needed for success. This service includes a vocabulary training program, which is geared toward standardized test prep but also helps a student become a better writer.
Top Tier Admissions offers an essay only service package called
College Application Essay Guidance, which is convenient for those who only seek help in this one crucial area. They also have a hilariously named service called “Common App 911.” Having worked in this industry myself, I appreciate the urgency implied by this name. This service includes a live, consultant-guided walk-through of an application portal, such as the Common App. This experience provides the student with expert insight on best practices when filling out the application