In an ideal world, college admissions would be as simple as filling out an application and then showing up to class. For many parents with high-school-age students, it was that simple when they applied. Unfortunately, today’s reality is that our college admissions system is complex and opaque, and navigating it is stressful. But the stresses of applying to college can be much reduced with the help of a great college admissions coach.
College is extremely expensive: a four-year college education can cost a middle-class family anywhere from $60,000 – $120,000 after financial aid. And universities are using increasingly sophisticated yield management techniques to build a class, which means that many students risk a sub-optimal outcome without expert advice. For some students, this can mean they are rejected by every school they apply to, even when they meet or exceed the academic criteria for those colleges. For many others, it can mean significant undermatching: losing an opportunity to apply to a more selective school which provides a better fit.
A good college admissions coach can help students handle the many facets of their college application process, and provide expert guidance at every step. A coach can turn an otherwise anxiety-provoking experience into a smooth, streamlined process for any college-bound hopeful.
The Benefits of Working With a College Admissions Coach
1. A College Admissions Coach Can Help Students Build a Great List of Colleges
Internet searches and college fairs are a good way to get an overview of what to expect from a given institution. But sometimes information gathered this way can be unreliable or incorrect. For deeper, trustworthy information, parents and student may have to work harder by tracking down office hours and phone numbers for a school they have interest in. In some case, students may need to find others who have spent time studying there or attend tours to ask questions in person.
But if you ask employees of a college, they are likely to tell you things they think you might want to hear. A college admissions coach, on the other hand, is more interested in helping each student find the best-fit college for them rather than push them to a specific school or the highest-ranked university.
Coaches can also help build a list that balances likelihood, cost, and earnings, so students can find a college they will love. That means a college that not only provides a great education, but one that they can get into and afford, and that results in good earning opportunities.
2. A College Admissions Coach Can Help Students Execute a Solid Plan
The average student now applies to between seven and ten colleges. Many apply more than ten schools. Many students will have to write more than 20 essays for their college applications. With that many schools to apply to, many students will run into time constraints. Given how many scholarship applications, essays, tests, and letters there are to draft and re-write, the process can be a tough challenge.
A coach can help each student create a plan and hold them accountable for it. That means in many cases, drafting a plan that lays out goals week-by-week through the spring, summer, and fall of junior/senior year and tracking each week carefully.
3. A College Admissions Coach Can Help Students Set Themselves Apart
Academics and test scores are the most important factors in admissions, but it’s important that students stand out in other ways as well, as universities look for multiple qualities in a candidate, from demonstrated interest to stand-out essays to thoughtful letters of recommendation. A coach can help students create a great profile that is appealing to the qualities each university seeks. Especially in an era where universities increasingly use techniques like waitlisting, early decision, and demonstrated interest to select applicants, creating a standout application that showcases the student’s best qualities and expresses interest is critical.
A coach can also help students navigate the waters of admission by providing advice on items that don’t show up on the application. This includes, for example, interviews, emails to admissions officials, and college visits.
4. A College Admissions Coach Can Help Students Understand Their Needs
Students applying to college have to navigate a complex landscape. Finding the best-fit school for each student can be a challenge. A college admissions coach can help students find colleges that are the right fit culturally as well as academically.
For many students, understanding what they’ll need culturally is difficult, and it can lead to big mistakes in the process. Some students will thrive at a small university but struggle at a big school. Others will struggle with the academic pressures at a highly competitive school. Yet others need to find a school that nurtures and nourishes their religious faith. Helping a student identify their unique needs and meet them is a critical function for a coach.
5. A College Admissions Coach Can Help Families Save Money on College
Last, but certainly not least, a good college admissions coach can save families money. The costs of college can vary widely for any particular student. Schools offer merit-based scholarships based on widely varying criteria. At some schools, they value extracurricular accomplishments, artistic talent, and athletic gifts. At some, great academic work is the key to scholarships. Colleges also have a lot of discretion in awarding need-based financial aid, especially institutional aid.
A coach can help select colleges that are likely to maximize both need-based and merit-based aid. That can help immensely in managing the cost of college. The savings can amount to tens of thousands of dollars over a multi-year period.