Independent College Counselors

The first step in deciding whether to seek outside services is to assess your individual needs and evaluate the resources available in your own school.

  • Does your school have counselors who spend a significant amount of time counseling students through the college admissions process?
  • Have the school’s counselors received special training through regional or national workshops for college counseling?
  • Is there a college/career center where you can have access to books, applications, computer programs, and other materials for individual resources?

If the answer to these questions is yes, you may not feel the need to seek additional assistance.

Independent Counselors Should:

  • Insist that students be the sole authors of their college applications & essays.
  • Help the student understand that no one can guarantee admission to any college or have influence on admissions decisions reached by institutions.
  • Encourage students to consider a range of institutions of admission, not just emphasizing admission to highly selective or prestigious universities.
  • Educate students about scare tactics used in some marketing campaigns.

Questions to Ask About Professional Qualification and Experience:

  • Do you have counseling experience, credentials, or a master’s degree in counseling or a counseling related discipline?
  • Do you have experience in a high school counseling office or as a college admission officer?
  • Do you visit college campuses regularly—locally, regionally and/or nationally?
  • What national and/or regional professional organizations do you belong to as a college counselor?
  • Do you follow a specific set of professional ethics/standard of practice as a college counselor?
  • Do you offer services free of charge or at a reduced rate depending on a family’s ability to pay?

* This information was adapted from the NACAC publication “What Parents and Students Should Know About…Independent Counselors, Educational Consultants, and Commercial Counseling Centers.”  Go to for more information.

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