As an independent college consultant, I network with other business professionals in Friendswood, Pearland, Clear Lake and the Houston areas. I also travel to Phoenix and Denver areas for clients and workshops. I love meeting potential new clients and other contacts in the professional world. One of the services I provide is to connect my student clients with professionals in their field of interest. This helps create a mentorship and sometimes evolves into job shadowing and internships which is great for everyone involved!
One of the things that I’m learning very quickly while networking and introducing myself is that most people don’t really understand what I DO. Most of the other networkers fit into well-known descriptions: lawyers, realtors, financial planners and sales reps. I find myself explaining not only what I do, but why it’s important and necessary. Many people assume my services are only for exemplary students or only for rich parents. So, I thought, I need to talk a little more about what I do, why it matters and just how affordable I am.
Who am I? I’m a private college counselor or consultant.
Some like to call us college counselors, others say we’re college consultants, but the services are usually the same. I am hired by families who need expert college planning advice. Some families are not getting the advice or guidance they need or expect from their high school counselor; others want a second opinion or more one-on-one attention.
When I’m not assisting parents and students directly, I’m travelling and touring campuses. I’m speaking with college admissions officials and reading about any new trends or developments in the field. I keep abreast of the issues in order to better inform my clients about their options.
What do I do? I counsel students and their families on college planning.
Simply, I help parents and students plan for college. But ask any parent of a college student and they will tell you how complicated the whole process is now. Here are some of the services I provide:
- Career planning help, assistance selecting a college major
- Guidance creating a list of colleges the student should apply to, including reach, match and safety schools
- Proofreading of college and scholarship essays
- Advice with the college financial aid processes
- Assistance meeting all deadlines and requirements for each school
- Suggestions for SAT and ACT testing and preparation
- Scheduling interviews, job shadowing and internships with professionals in their selected field
Most of my services are offered in yearly packages based on high school grade, but I do offer a menu of services for families who only need help in a few areas.
When do I work? I make myself available during non-traditional hours
I work evenings, Saturdays and Sundays. I work over holidays and school breaks. I work over the summer. Why? Because that’s when it’s convenient for students and their families. Those are also times when school counselors aren’t available, so it may be difficult to get assistance from the school.
I also do a lot of work by email, phone and Skype for students who live out of state or even outside the country.
Why do I do it? Because families need the help
After a home purchase, college expenses are the most expensive investments families will make. I think most families need help with one of the largest and more complicated investments in their lives. Most families wouldn’t dream of searching for and purchasing a home, not to mention signing the legal and financial documents, without a realtor on their side. Why go through the college process alone?
Due to large student caseloads and other issues that require their attention, public high school counselors can rarely spend more than an hour of time per student each year on college planning. I hardly think that’s fair to any student who is trying to make one of the biggest and most complicated decisions of his or her life.
What does it cost? Not nearly as much as you would think
My most comprehensive packages, which cover the 10th, 11th, and 12th grade years of high school typically cost about $4,000. This covers ALL issues that arise in the college planning process for more than 3 years and includes unlimited access to me for questions or concerns. This is below the national average of $4,335.
As I mentioned, I also offer smaller packages and a menu of services. Families can also choose to work with me on an hourly basis ($150/hour).
Consider that the average expense of 4 years of tuition, room and board and books can range from $80,000 to $150,000. It makes financial sense to invest a small fraction of that amount to ensure that your child’s college experience is successful.
If you would like to know more about what I can do to help you or your child, please use the contact page or email me directly [email protected].
Jolyn Brand is the president and founder of Brand College Consulting. Follow her on Twitter or like the Facebook page.