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Going to College? When to Consider Working with Independent Educational Consultants

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Adapted from adMISSION POSSIBLE: The "Dare to Be Yourself" Guide for Getting into the Best Colleges for You

The college admissions process can seem vast. As you begin down the path to college, remember your high school counselor and teachers are an important resource. Another option is to explore the independent counselor track. Sometimes, when looking for additional support or more personalized information and advice, students and parents reach out to independent counselors.

Most professional admissions counselors belong to the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) or the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA).

As with any other personal service, it pays to do your due diligence in selecting an independent counselor. Often the best way to find out who to consider is to ask students and parents who have already gone through the college admissions process. Once you start hearing the same names with glowing reports over and over, you’ve found a good starting place.

Here are some questions to ask an independent educational consultant:

  • Can you provide a list of services and a summary of what you do for students?
  • What kind of training, experience, and credentials do you have in college admissions and counseling?
  • Do you have a list of references available?
  • How much do your services cost? What is included in the fees?
  • How will you work with our school counselors to provide the best combination of resources for my child?
  • Can we meet for an informational interview before making our choice?
  • Do you have existing relationships with any colleges?

Be sure to discuss your plans with your high school guidance counselor, so he or she knows you are looking for the best available support and guidance for your college decision.

To learn more about how adMISSION POSSIBLE can help you get into the best college for you, visit the College Countdown Bookstore.

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Marjorie Hansen Shaevitz is author of adMISSION POSSIBLE: The “Dare to Be Yourself” Guide for Getting into the Best Colleges for You, and founder/director of, a free college admissions information and resources website. An award-winning author, speaker, and professional counselor, Hansen Shaevitz is a member of the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), Associate Member of the Independent Educational Consultant’s Association (IECA) and a Unigo Expert Network columnist. She is a former member of Stanford University’s Parents’ Board and chair of the Advisory Council for Stanford’s Institute for Women & Gender. She spent twelve years as a trustee for La Jolla Country Day School. Hansen Shaevitz has a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology from Stanford University, was Orientation Officer at the East West Center, a member of the Dean of Students staff at Stanford, and directed the College Re-Entry Program at the University of California, San Diego.

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