College admissions has become a crazy game where students and parents apply to more and more schools each year. The process has become more complicated over time, and exponentially so. The average student to counselor ratio in US schools was 470:1 in 2013 (https://www.counseling.org/docs/default-source/public-policy-faqs-and-documents/2013-counselor-to-student-ratio-chart.pdf?sfvrsn=2) and continues to climb. How can we expect that school counselor to give quality guidance to students? The reality is an industry of college counselors has spawned and the quality of them vary tremendously.
What is college counseling?
College counseling is the process of helping students through the admissions process. This is a stressful and complicated process and many parents turn to private college counselors to help their children.
College counselors help students with ideas and flow for their essays, choosing a college list, keeping students on track for deadlines, and much more.
College counselors are often individuals who are passionate about admissions and are parents or former admissions officers. They have an area of expertise or learn over time how to help many types of students.
Choosing a college counselor
There are many types of college counselors. Most are local and independent and help students because they are passionate about the process. There are some larger tutoring centers that also do college counseling. Finally, there are school counselors. We will go over each type and also our new approach at Synocate (synocate.com).
Independent counselors can be a good choice if your child matches well with their personality. Often they are passionate about the subject and love to help students. They usually take 10-20 students per year given the physical ability of one person or two people. Downsides to this option include the lack of expertise across schools or usually the robustness or the programs that some students and parents feel that they need to navigate this confusing and often unstructured process.
Larger tutoring companies are also now venturing into college counseling as they have found it to be complimentary to what they do. Many of these firms have the resources and people to be able to deliver college counseling, but often lack the personal touch and expertise that a pure college counselor has.
School counselors are often overwhelmed with students, with the average student to counselor ratio being 500:1 or higher in some states across the US. Often parents look for private college counselors because school counselors are overwhelmed.
At Synocate we believe in a unified and 1-on-1 approach at scale. We have a team of hundreds of college counselors with years of experience across the country that meet with our students online to help them through this process. We simulate admissions committee reviews to gain the collective experience of the team and put students through rigorous data-driven tests to ensure that our approaches work. We backtest our approach against thousands of applicants and refine it each year.
When choosing a counselor, make sure your student matches the personality of the counselor. At Synocate, because we have a large team, we use data to match each student to the counselor based on student and parent preferences. The other area to watch for is expertise. Make sure the counselor knows about your target schools or has experience helping students get in there.
Finally, the counselor should be personable and easy to work with. College admissions is a stressful process and often students love working with us because of the quality and caliber of our team. Carefully vet who you will be working with, what that organization stands for, and how that fits into your long term goals.