Private college counselor

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Fisherman
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Private college counselor

Post by Fisherman » Wed Nov 26, 2014 10:14 am

Does a private college counselor help for Ivy league college admissions? My son is a junior at a public school and doesn't get much help from school counselors, only two for a class of 450. It looks like there are several Bogleheads from Ivys. Appreciate any suggestions on college admissions to top schools.

Thank you all

livesoft
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Re: Private college counselor

Post by livesoft » Wed Nov 26, 2014 10:18 am

How many students from that class of 450 go to Ivies? If 90% of them go, then your school counselors are doing a better job than a private college counselor would. :)
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barnaclebob
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Re: Private college counselor

Post by barnaclebob » Wed Nov 26, 2014 10:39 am

I don't think I'd ever pay a private college counselor. Kind of like paying an active manager, they can't guarantee performance. And they may not tell you the truth if your kid isn't likely to get in.

My advice is to tell your kid not to put too much weight on any one school just because of its name. There are a lot of good schools and he can be successful coming from many of them that aren't on the east coast.

Fisherman
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Re: Private college counselor

Post by Fisherman » Wed Nov 26, 2014 11:54 am

It is a good competitive magnet school but only 2% , around 7 or 8 go to Ivies, I think the councelors are too busy to give any good advice in school.

I am not absolutely fixated on Ivies, but looking for a strong academic school where kids can learn from each other

Thank you all

psteinx
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Re: Private college counselor

Post by psteinx » Wed Nov 26, 2014 11:55 am

You might want to search for information on this topic (and other topics) on collegeconfidential.com.

My read is that they will provide:

1) Information (most of which you can learn on your own reading various books and stuff on collegeconfidential, but still, it may be more convenient to hire someone).

2) Help filtering/screening lists of potential colleges.

3) A reasonably neutral 3rd party voice, if college issues are contentious with your son/daughter.

4) Editing help for essays.

livesoft
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Re: Private college counselor

Post by livesoft » Wed Nov 26, 2014 12:30 pm

I see this from a couple of angles. First, both my kids are in college now and went to great public high school schools that had several graduates getting into HYPMS. Second, I have written many letters of recommendation for high school students for their college apps and for their jobs afterwards. These experiences tell me that if the student is not motivated themselves to go to one of these places, then it will be tough. Also, the best students in a high school graduating class often aspire to go to state flagship for whatever reasons. Lots of this is geographic, so that non-New England states with great state flagship universities, there is less pull to top-20 private schools. But in New England states, there is definitely a pull for the best students to apply to Ivy schools because the state universities have lesser reputations.

I would say that in a situation where the parents are college graduates, the high school has a good track record of graduates going to good schools, and the child's peers are applying to good schools, then a private college counselor will have a marginal effect. However, a fantastic student who is first to college in their family from a HS without peers going to good schools, then a private college counselor would probably be beneficial.

I will also guess in the OP's child's high school that 400 of the graduates are not bothering the two guidance counselors for any help, so that it probably is really a ratio of 1:25 anyways.

So for the self-motivation factor, I think the high school senior should have already applied to Ivies by this point in the year. It is probably too late help a senior at this point in time. Since the OP has a junior, there is plenty of time to get motivated.
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Fisherman
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Re: Private college counselor

Post by Fisherman » Wed Nov 26, 2014 1:03 pm

Our state universities are average, that is why many kids are applying for out of state schools. Per the school my son is in the top 5%, but it looks like only 2% of the kids are accepted to the so called top schools. I think anybody in the top 10% from their school are very good, they take around 12 to 15 APs.

It does appear that letters and presentation matters. I have to learn a bit more what the top schools are looking for both Ivy and other top ones. Appreciate any suggestions

Thank you all

Afty
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Re: Private college counselor

Post by Afty » Wed Nov 26, 2014 1:04 pm

In the do-it-yourself Boglehead spirit, I wouldn't pay for a private college counselor. I don't think there is much they would tell you that you can't learn on your own by reading on the Internet.

I would also echo the advice not to focus too much on the name of the school or its reputation. I went to a top college, and frankly I'm not sure I would choose to go there again. The quality of the teaching was often poor because professors are focused on their research, trying to become the world's top expert in their field, and view teaching as a distraction from their real work. The primary benefit you get is having that name on your resume, with a secondary benefit of building a network of friends who are very likely to be successful later in life. But I'm pretty convinced that the same kids would do just as well if they went to any other college. It's the students themselves who are exceptional, not the school.

Grt2bOutdoors
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Re: Private college counselor

Post by Grt2bOutdoors » Wed Nov 26, 2014 1:07 pm

I wouldn't. It's not the counselor, it's the student - grades, extracurricular, essay, etc. that get them into the school.
I went to a good public school with mediocre counselors if you could call them that - class of 850. 4 got into HYP, 2 got into a special MD program and 2 went to a pharmacy program. So, 1% got into top schools, the remaining 9% of the top 10% got into equally impressive name schools, none of them paid for a counselor seeing that we came from a low middle income environment. Now, this was years ago, but even today (I keep tabs on my alma mater) the kids are still getting into the Ivies and they aren't paying for "extra hand holding". It's not the end of the world if you don't get into an Ivy.
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2stepsbehind
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Re: Private college counselor

Post by 2stepsbehind » Wed Nov 26, 2014 1:11 pm

Fisherman wrote:It is a good competitive magnet school but only 2% , around 7 or 8 go to Ivies, I think the councelors are too busy to give any good advice in school.

I am not absolutely fixated on Ivies, but looking for a strong academic school where kids can learn from each other

Thank you all
This describes most institutions. Even at less selective schools there are often highly competitive programs. I echo those posters who suggest not getting caught up in the brand name. Of course if you have an extra 200k, however, to spare or are among those likely to benefit from generous financial aid packages, then go for broke.

Beth*
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Re: Private college counselor

Post by Beth* » Wed Nov 26, 2014 1:14 pm

In my opinion, and based upon my experience, no. My daughter went to a decent but not elite public high school and was accepted by an Ivy league college in 2008. She researched and handled this on her own. We did read her college application essays and we made some suggestions and edits but that was the extent of our involvement other than writing checks and taking her to visit schools. If you child is qualified for an elite college, your child should be able to research schools on his or her own, talk to older students from their high school or college about the admissions process, and figure out what needs to be done to get in.

Where I have seen private college counselors be helpful is when there is some particular need which requires finding the most appropriate school for a child. For example, if you have a child with high tests scores and not so high grades and you need advice on colleges that are likely to give your child large merit scholarships a private counselor should be able to provide some guidance. What are they going to tell you about getting into an Ivy League College? You need high grades, high test scores, some impressive extra curricular activities that demonstrate leadership or exceptional talent, and if you have all that the probability of getting in is still low because so many more students with these qualifications apply than can be accepted. While my daughter was accepted by an Ivy League college, she was also turned down by two others that on paper looked like the admissions requirements were about the same.

livesoft
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Re: Private college counselor

Post by livesoft » Wed Nov 26, 2014 1:22 pm

Fisherman wrote:I have to learn a bit more what the top schools are looking for both Ivy and other top ones. Appreciate any suggestions.
Here's is what I think they are looking for:
Great academics is a given, but also at least two other outstanding attributes such as athletics, music/drama, or working. This tells the admissions folks that the student does not spend all their time on academics, but devotes significant other time to other activities that they excel in. And one other activity besides academics is not going to cut it. The applicant will need a minimum of two other solid activities. For instance, a state-ranked cross country athlete who also worked in the local hospital 20 hours a week during school.
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davebarnes
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We think it helped

Post by davebarnes » Wed Nov 26, 2014 1:36 pm

We paid for one.
It was buried in the tuition to our daughter's private school.
Two people to help 70 students.
Our child wound up going to a private university on the Upper West Side of NYC.
Her education and the brand name of the school have been useful in her career, so far.
A nerd living in Denver

psteinx
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Re: Private college counselor

Post by psteinx » Wed Nov 26, 2014 1:46 pm

Given two equally motivated, equally intelligent kids, in comparable public high schools, I think on average there *WOULD* be a noticeable difference in the expected outcome (quality of college attended, fitness for student), for the kid who better understood and planned for the college admissions game, particularly if that information was obtained somewhat earlier in their high school career (or perhaps before).

There is much that's not transparent about what colleges value, how colleges differ, and so on.

That's not to say that a private college counselor is necessary. But for some folks, they might be helpful in obtaining an improved outcome.

denovo
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Re: Private college counselor

Post by denovo » Wed Nov 26, 2014 1:56 pm

It does appear that letters and presentation matters. I have to learn a bit more what the top schools are looking for both Ivy and other top ones. Appreciate any suggestions
Here is the simple truth.

The biggest factors in Admissions are 1. Grades/Class Rank 2. SAT 1/2 scores 3. Quality of Extracurricular Achievement. A counselor can do nothing for you , these are already set in stone.

If you already know your son wants to apply to X number of Ivy schools, the counselor can't help you with picking schools. At best they'll help you with editing the essays. And if your son or daughter already has Straight A's and got a near perfect score on the Writing Section he or she can write their own essays.
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Wellfleet
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Re: Private college counselor

Post by Wellfleet » Wed Nov 26, 2014 2:02 pm

Not sure if helps the OP but friends and I met at the big state U and all got into top 10 us news schools for graduate school.

Going to top 10 school may matter for some fields, white shoe law, wall street but in my field (and geographic location) there are many with state school undergrad and top 20 grad school.

I was NOT in top 5% of my high school.

virgingorda
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Re: Private college counselor

Post by virgingorda » Wed Nov 26, 2014 2:10 pm

This question has been asked many times at CollegeConfidential. You can start at http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/parents-forum/ and search the forums. In my experience, it is possible to educate yourself enough to not need one.

And before you get too hyped up about Ivies, realize the odds are against you:
http://www.roxandroll.com/2014/11/paren ... rd-go.html (you can skip down to the Q and A part)

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Re: Private college counselor

Post by Slapshot » Wed Nov 26, 2014 2:14 pm

Here's is what I think they are looking for:
Great academics is a given, but also at least two other outstanding attributes such as athletics, music/drama, or working. This tells the admissions folks that the student does not spend all their time on academics, but devotes significant other time to other activities that they excel in. And one other activity besides academics is not going to cut it. The applicant will need a minimum of two other solid activities. For instance, a state-ranked cross country athlete who also worked in the local hospital 20 hours a week during school


I'm an Ivy graduate and retired from 35 years of teaching/coaching in a public high school. During that time I've had many students accepted and rejected at Ivies. What livesoft says above is true. I don't think a private counselor will make any difference. Evaluate your child's record objectively. Unless he/she is the valedictorian (and even then, many get rejected), then they would have to be absolutely superb in some other area, given great grades and test scores. For example, playing football is not enough. Is he the league MVP or an all-scholastic at a position the college team is looking for? Does he play a musical instrument well enough to get onto the Boston Junior symphony? Volunteering at the local food bank? Not enough. Did he organize and execute a major food drive that involved hundreds of students? Better. It also helps if he comes from an under-represented area of the country or demographic. I used to interview kids for my alma mater, but I stopped after seeing so many deserving students get rejected.
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TomatoTomahto
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Re: Private college counselor

Post by TomatoTomahto » Wed Nov 26, 2014 3:18 pm

We did not hire a private college counselor, although we almost had one at my son's private school, where 3 college counselors worked with a graduating class of 100. Our particular counselor, who got mostly the IB kids, was helpful but I think it was still helpful for us to become knowledgable about the process.

The GC was very helpful in assisting teachers in writing the letters of recommendation, knowing the teachers' weaknesses in writing LoRs and also knowing what schools are looking for (and helping edit the LoRs). A private counselor will not be allowed to do this.

Additionally, for a few applicants (thankfully not my son), the GC can be helpful in getting a kid off a waiting list, or tipping a kid who is a close call over to the accepted side. Private counselors are usually not allowed to do this; the colleges get enough input through normal channels.

Some few very high-end private counselors will know the regional Admissions Officers (most commonly because they were once GCs at an elite HS). Many "regular" GCs will have relationships with the college's AO, and are allowed to contact them.

Some schools might consider a private counselor, if they're made aware of his/her existence, a negative. Being a first-generation college student is a hook at most schools; having a private counselor is probably an anti-hook.

I disagree with the Chinese menu 1 from column A, two from column B approach. My son had imperfect grades (very good, but not 4.0), imperfect (but danged close) SAT scores, okay but not extraordinary ECs at his school (but he did have a wonderful internship at a plasma physics lab, arranged entirely without parental or school involvement), and played ice hockey and did track but will never play anything above club hockey in college. He did not win Intel or Siemens, but his IB extended essay was a software filter to improve estimation in dynamic/chaotic systems that his mentor thought was exceptional -- he opted not to take the usual IB EE approach of a boring thesis supported by internet searches but instead took a chance on a senior project that could have failed.

He was accepted at Yale, his first choice. In other words, he got in even though he was exceptional only in his hunger for learning and his willingness to put himself out there.

I think there is no substitute for a parent (or other involved adult) spending time talking with the applicant. Not a few conversations; TIME. Finding out about schools that appeal to him, finding out what those schools are looking for, finding out how close to "decided" he is about his future (e.g., my son thought that he was interested in MIT and CalTech until Junior summer, when he realized that a broader school was a better idea than a more narrow one). How much, if any, financial aid will be necessary and what is the family view on student debt?

This is a time when ponying up the money for something (a counselor) is less valuable than providing the time and spirit. Your son will get discouraged, he will get passive-aggressive, you will question your ability to help him, etc. It was a time not without difficulties, but I think it was something that brought us closer together than anything else I can think of.

Do not take too seriously other people's experiences (including mine). All kids are different. My oldest child is in her early thirties, my youngest is 16. The changes in the college application process are staggering over those <20 years, and the difference to my application process is greater still.

Good luck!

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Watty
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Re: Private college counselor

Post by Watty » Wed Nov 26, 2014 4:16 pm

My son is a junior at a public school and doesn't get much help from school counselors, only two for a class of 450.
They may be very busy with the seniors who have been applying for college this fall and may be more focused on your son's class after the new year starts.

It would be good to check with other parents who have kids that are a few years ahead of your son to find out how useful they thought the counselors were.

It could also be that your son has not been actively seeking out their help so that could make a big difference too. When my son was going through the college application process he had minimal contact with his counseling department since he knew what he wanted to major in and he wanted to go to a state college(which was a good fit for him) so there was little need for him to work with the high school counselors.

It could be that even though there are 450 students that only a very small percentage of them require much time from the counselors for the college application process so they could be more available than you think.

livesoft
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Re: Private college counselor

Post by livesoft » Wed Nov 26, 2014 5:19 pm

TomatoTomahto wrote:I disagree with the Chinese menu 1 from column A, two from column B approach.
Thanks for the chuckle because you went on to describe one from column A and four from column B. My take-away is that you do not think 2 is enough. :)
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TomatoTomahto
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Re: Private college counselor

Post by TomatoTomahto » Wed Nov 26, 2014 5:36 pm

livesoft wrote:
TomatoTomahto wrote:I disagree with the Chinese menu 1 from column A, two from column B approach.
Thanks for the chuckle because you went on to describe one from column A and four from column B. My take-away is that you do not think 2 is enough. :)
You're welcome :D

I guess I didn't describe it well enough. What I don't like is the approach of "okay, your grades are good enough, but your ECs are deficient; let's see what we can do to improve your ECs. Fencing is an under represented sport, easy to make the team, why don't you sign up for that?"

I guess rather than Chinese menu, it's more like a checklist. Now that I've re-read it, I chuckled also.

One thing I forgot to mention to OP: there is the occasional college decision that is inexplicable (eg, they accepted Bobo but rejected Studiosa? Are the AOs idiots?). But, having watched the previous application season very carefully, I've been very impressed with how good most of the AO decisions have been. Larger schools are mostly "by the numbers," but smaller schools have impressed me with their more holistic processes.

Leesbro63
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Re: Private college counselor

Post by Leesbro63 » Wed Nov 26, 2014 5:39 pm

Did it for both my kids. HIGHLY worth it if you can afford it. What do I know about overseeing the very complicated college app process? Not much! Outsourced it to an expert and know it was done right. Some of the best dollars I ever spent. Oh and both of my kids got into their top "near Ivy" (but not real Ivy, I admit) choice.

Professor Emeritus
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Re: Private college counselor

Post by Professor Emeritus » Wed Nov 26, 2014 5:50 pm

I am afraid I hear the loud noisy sound of a helicopter parent. I'm pushing 40 years in academia. At top universities, for students admitted on "merit", (about 50%) schools care about only two things: talent and dedication. Can they do the work and will they do the work? All the indicators described here are methods of showing talent and dedication. The kids with real talent an dedication jump right out at you , they don't need to be packaged

Fisherman
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Re: Private college counselor

Post by Fisherman » Wed Nov 26, 2014 6:15 pm

Thank you all, very informative to me.
I don't consider my self as an helicopter parent, if so I would have asked this question when he Was a freshman.

May I know what you all think other top non ivy schools are for non engineering students. Would like to avoid large schools

Are there any differences between each Ivy, one better than the other in certain fields?

I don't know how much one can trust US news report

I am not pushing my son in any direction, trying to educate myself so that I can guide him a bit better

Thank you all

Fisherman
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Re: Private college counselor

Post by Fisherman » Wed Nov 26, 2014 6:20 pm

TT appreciate your long post
Leesbro did you hire the local counselor or away from home
And usually how much do they charge

Professor Emeritus
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Re: Private college counselor

Post by Professor Emeritus » Wed Nov 26, 2014 6:29 pm

Fisherman wrote:Thank you all, very informative to me.
I don't consider my self as an helicopter parent, if so I would have asked this question when he Was a freshman.

May I know what you all think other top non ivy schools are for non engineering students. Would like to avoid large schools

Are there any differences between each Ivy, one better than the other in certain fields?

I don't know how much one can trust US news report

I am not pushing my son in any direction, trying to educate myself so that I can guide him a bit better

Thank you all
:happy no one EVER considers themselves a helicopter parent :happy

So why are you asking these questions? Why isn't your son? it's his life, his career!
My daughter wrote to 10 department chairs as a junior asking: "Why should she apply to their schools?

But if your son wants the best liberal arts education in the USA and you son is good enough he will not do better than Swarthmore.

They set the standard for education in many areas. But these students have been preparing themselves to apply since they were freshmen.

livesoft
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Re: Private college counselor

Post by livesoft » Wed Nov 26, 2014 6:38 pm

Fisherman wrote:May I know what you all think other top non ivy schools are for non engineering students. Would like to avoid large schools
Thanks for asking since then I feel comfortable expressing my opinion. I would not and did not pay for non-top 20 private elite university. Might as well go to state flagship since state flagship is really outstanding and compares extremely favorably with private elites out of the top 20. That's my 2 cents. :)

Now if one believes a large school like a state flagship is too large, then maybe I can let my cutoff for top 20 drop to top 30 to allow for a smaller school. Or one can switch to a different ranking list. Aren't I evil? :twisted:
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sambb
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Re: Private college counselor

Post by sambb » Wed Nov 26, 2014 6:40 pm

I would hire a counselor
I attended an IVY
It was absolutely the right decision for me and opened alot of doors for me. Would do it the same way again.

Leesbro63
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Re: Private college counselor

Post by Leesbro63 » Wed Nov 26, 2014 8:18 pm

Fisherman wrote:TT appreciate your long post
Leesbro did you hire the local counselor or away from home
And usually how much do they charge
I think I paid about $2500 each to a local lady who was a former admissions person at a just-below-Ivy school. For us it was more about navigating the process and organization versus about being just about increasing odds of getting into a better school than otherwise. Like I said, what do I know about all this? I didn't even know what I didn't even know! It was a huge stress reliever FOR ME and my wife to have an expert working directly with each kid as the "director of college applications". I recommend her to others often.

I disagree with the helicopter parent comments. Applying to college is one of life's 2 or 3 most important decisions. There is nothing "helicopter-y" about hiring an expert to get it as right as possible.

Fisherman
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Re: Private college counselor

Post by Fisherman » Wed Nov 26, 2014 9:21 pm

Sambb,

Would it be possible to share a bit more how it opened more doors to you. Are there any differences between the Ivies in regard to non-engineering science studies

thank you

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TomatoTomahto
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Re: Private college counselor

Post by TomatoTomahto » Wed Nov 26, 2014 10:50 pm

I don't think there's anything over the top or helicopter-y about hiring a counselor, any more than finding a good private school was helicopter-y, or driving my son to a hockey game was helicopter-y. For the reasons I mentioned, I didn't think it had a better chance of a good outcome for my son, but had I thought that it would work for us, I would not have hesitated -- and everyone's circumstances are different. I am a SAHD, which gave me more time for research, and DS and I talk quite a bit with each other.

With all due respect to Professor Emeritus and Swarthmore (a wonderful school), there are many wonderful schools and naming one without knowing your son is, IMO, silly. Williams isn't chopped liver. I know some kids who have thrived at St. Johns of Annapolis (an eccentric school for eccentric kids, IMO, but who asked me?). Pomona. Bowdoin. And so on.

The Ivies are not very similar to each other, except that they play in a sports league and some people's eyes get big (or very squinty) when you mention that your kid attends. Cornell is very different from Brown. My son is very happy at Yale, but would probably be miserable at Cornell and enjoy Brown. Many of my son's friends go to Penn, but when he visited, he knew it wasn't for him. Ditto Dartmouth and Harvard. Columbia has a very strict Core Curriculum; Brown has a "roll your own" attitude about curriculum.

I don't know where OP lives, but geography is also a factor. Some families do well with distance; I'm glad that Thanksgiving doesn't involve a flight, but rather a car ride or train (around 2-3 hours for us). Close enough to visit, but too far to come home for laundry service :) Some kids thrive with distance from home; one of my son's roommate is from Italy and it works well for him. These are all considerations, as is the food, housing, size, rigor, weather, sports, etc.

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Re: Private college counselor

Post by blevine » Wed Nov 26, 2014 11:32 pm

This is an important and complicated decision to select and gain admission to a school.
I don't think too many 17-18 year olds understand the variables that impact the decision,
even if they are valedictorians.
Having an educated adult who went to college, pursued a career
and can give some advice is a very useful resource for the kid to exploit.

Now who would be willing to offer meaningful amounts of time and advice :

1) Parents
2) Paid advisors

Not everyone is lucky enough to have parents who have the experience (1st generation college applicants)
and not everyone can afford paid advisors. If I was a smart young kid, I would try to get advice from one
or the other, if I could, both maybe. If neither is available, all is not lost. Colleges love those
1st generation college applicants.

Personally my wife and I had 3 degrees between the two of us, and willingness to update ourselves
in the current state of the process, and confidence in our sons ability to put his best foot forward
in his essays, that we did not hire help. But I would have paid for it if this under different circumstances.
End result, accepted to every college he applied, some very good ones, with merit scholarships and
honors programs in less competitive schools.

Comes down to the fact this was important to our family, enough to spend our time or our money
to do the best we can. We just didn't need to spend the money, but time is money !

LongerPrimer
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Re: Private college counselor

Post by LongerPrimer » Wed Nov 26, 2014 11:36 pm

The cost of private schools is doubled to what we sent our Only to in 2002. I'm mostly on the fence on your decision. I, Never give advice, mostly; I will offer anecdotes :| ... If you are a full payer or expect to pay a good portion, I'd consider it. :mrgreen:

Ours was the top student in a public, 400 in class. IB Diploma. NMF, selected by teachers for leadership mentoring by Chamber of Comerce, and like stuff. Applied to 10 tech-engineering schools, 4 were IVY. Accepts to 3, not IVY. I think he was accepted to the proper schools. I think the applications to the IVYs were just to see if he could get in. We did not hire a counselor.

DS got fullride for MS. Made his first hire last month, a PhD in same field. Neighbor's son of same HS class went to engineering StateUniv and struggled to complete college, barely got into Masters at State U but finished with people and companies wanting to write checks. Today he's head of an engineering section. Different paths, parallel results. :D

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Re: Private college counselor

Post by travellight » Thu Nov 27, 2014 1:30 am

I did not use a private counselor, mostly because I am a DIYer. I have done my share of avid reading and research over at college confidential. I agree with the poster who said this is one of the top 2 or 3 points in the road and I am happy to help with research if it can help my kid. The schedules that kids who apply to highly selective schools manage is quite outrageous when factoring in multiple AP classes with intense homework load, getting great grades and test scores, and doing their sports and/or ECs. I don't know where there is ample time to do the extensive research to figure out the best schools for them and strategize how to apply well.

I would not at all fault a caring parent for wanting to be involved in the process and doing their utmost for their kid in a supportive role. I have friends who hired professionals and think I am compromising by not using one but they kinda know to expect that of me anyway.

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Sents
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Re: Private college counselor

Post by Sents » Thu Nov 27, 2014 2:00 am

I think advice for getting into top colleges is pretty general.
I'll spare you the private counselor.

Your child should strive to hit at least a few of these points:

1) Graduate near or at the top of the high school class
2) Have SAT scores in the top quintile.
3) Be a leader in impressive extra-curricular activities
4) Take many advanced classes at a local community college and/or a local 4-year University!
5) Get letters of recommendation from respected people who know his/her work
e.g. A university professor can write a letter if your child does research in their laboratory or a senator if he/she interned in their office.
6) Write a non-generic and passionate personal statement that will "knock the admission committees socks off"

Source: I have mentored high school students who ended up going to Stanford, Caltech, etc. Most entered University at a near Junior level standing (because they took so many classes at the University while in high school) and some had already published work in peer-reviewed journals.
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Re: Private college counselor

Post by livesoft » Thu Nov 27, 2014 6:42 am

There are other places to get some help besides parents, school counselors, and private counselors. Namely, books, the internet, peers, and newspapers although these all meld together.

I would like to point out the NYTimes has a discontinuted blog on college admission called The Choice which is a great resource. http://thechoice.blogs.nytimes.com What is so great about the NYTimes blog is that it is chock-full of the experiences and tribulations of neurotic and anxiety-pumped NYTimes readers who are worried about "us" getting into Ivy League colleges. And by "us" I mean the parent+child unit. The blog was fun to read and so full of useful information.
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Re: Private college counselor

Post by Fisherman » Thu Nov 27, 2014 11:59 am

Thanks livesoft that was a good blog. I think I saw some suggestions on books as well on that blog.

http://thechoice.blogs.nytimes.com/2013 ... egion=Body

I am planning to get some books as well from that list.

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Re: Private college counselor

Post by Fisherman » Thu Nov 27, 2014 12:03 pm

Thank you all for the suggestions.

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Re: Private college counselor

Post by nisiprius » Thu Nov 27, 2014 5:02 pm

Still stunned from watching "The Social Network" and reading Accidental Billionaires... I guess social prestige is still considered very important in... uh... the circles that have it. So I guess the question I'd ask is, can these college counselors not only get people into Harvard, but can they get them into the right final club after they've been admitted to Harvard?
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Re: Private college counselor

Post by sambb » Thu Nov 27, 2014 5:10 pm

Fisherman wrote:Sambb,

Would it be possible to share a bit more how it opened more doors to you. Are there any differences between the Ivies in regard to non-engineering science studies

thank you

Sure, but I would rather do it via PM rather than publicly.
I was offered a shot at better internships, jobs, graduate schools, etc.
There is no doubt that the right college background helped - and still does 20 years later.
Of course it still comes down to the individual - but more doors were open to me, and i was able to walk through the right ones.

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Re: Private college counselor

Post by THY4373 » Thu Nov 27, 2014 7:23 pm

My parents hired one for me and this would have been back in '87 or so. They did this after seeing what the high school counselor was recommending for colleges I apply to. The recommendations of the public high school counselor were all significantly below where I ended up going. The private counselor was more organized, gave me much more attention and in general was very helpful in navigating the admission process. My parents at the time and to this day feel they got their money's worth and so do I. That said no counselor (short of one with compromising photos of an Ivy League admissions director) was going to get me into an Ivy (though I still went to a very competitive college). So no they don't work magic but they may (or may not) be much better than what you get through your kid's school and they may make a difference at the margins.

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Re: Private college counselor

Post by Fisherman » Thu Nov 27, 2014 9:07 pm

Agree with you THY.

Nisiprius, It is not the Ivy or non-Ivy question. Can a student in a public school get all the guidance and help to get into one of the best schools in the country either Ivy or non-ivy or help with merit scholarships etc. As THY mentioned, it is not possible and not happening with one counselor advising 250 students, where as private schools have a ratio of 1 for 25 kids.

Looks like motivated students and parents like our Bogleheads can do most of it as mentioned in the posts. It looks like I have to read and learn a lot about the process and various schools.

Thanks Sambb, you can Pm at your convinience

Happy thanksgiving to all Bogleheads

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Re: Private college counselor

Post by livesoft » Sun Nov 30, 2014 8:59 am

Yesterday's article in NYTimes on getting into good college is not hard:
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/30/upsho ... -hard.html
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Re: Private college counselor

Post by Fisherman » Sun Nov 30, 2014 1:15 pm

Thanks Livesoft, a good article and very reassuring.

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Re: Private college counselor

Post by TomatoTomahto » Sun Nov 30, 2014 1:25 pm

I think people forget that there are dozens if not hundreds of very good colleges, at which a motivated student can get a great education. The college rankings by USNWR probably overall do a disservice to applicants.

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Re: Private college counselor

Post by Xpe » Sun Nov 30, 2014 10:07 pm

I'll just say that I remember my knowledge of the application process when I was applying to undergrad, being not so far removed from the process as many here. I knew very little, even as a relatively motivated aspirational college attendee. And my perspective was skewed, based on having only seventeen years of life experience, the things I thought would make me an attractive applicant weren't as good as other things I hadn't thought to mention.

Luckily both my parents had graduate degrees and were able to coach me on the process, one had even been an English teacher (hooray proofreading). Without their coaching, I would never had been admitted to the university I attended.

My view is that students need guidance, and the school guidance counselor is not enough. If you're not comfortable or qualified in providing that help, I would not hesitate going to a professional.
Last edited by Xpe on Mon Dec 01, 2014 7:20 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Private college counselor

Post by SpaceCowboy » Mon Dec 01, 2014 2:21 am

Going through the college applications process now with my oldest. Son is also in a very good public school, which simply doesn't have the counseling resources of a private school. If the expense is not an issue, I would hire one as early as possible during high school. It's not just the academics, but encouraging your kid to have an intense enough extra-curricular experience to support their application. Another key benefit of a counselor is keeping your kid on track with the process. Sometimes they listen to others more than the parents, at least in our case.
I'd also look for a counselor who had experience as an admissions officer at an Ivy or other highly selective college, not just a former guidance counselor.
For us, we only hired someone to help with his essays and we didn't do it early enough, but it was still helpful. Also, if you're kid is a recruited athlete, you'll have a lot of advantages in getting a decision earlier, but you will also likely be pressed to make an earlier decision in choosing a college.

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Re: Private college counselor

Post by Boglegrappler » Mon Dec 01, 2014 12:09 pm

Some counselors are valuable because the kids will listen to them, when they won't listen to their parents.

In the end, there's not a lot a counselor can do to improve the basic application if he starts in the junior year. You should be aware of each prospective school's requirements for testing. The Ivy's have historically desired/demanded several SAT II tests, which seems to be a surprise to some people.

You need to be among the top 2-3% usually, and you need to have recommendation letters that make the school feel like you're among the best student that the teacher recommender has seen. You have to have been active in extracurriculars, and you have to have done very well in them. If you're an athlete, you should be at an all-state level, especially if you are from a small state (that's if you are looking for a boost from a coach).

Generally to be competitive for the Ivy's you need to have SAT M-V scores of 1450ish or higher (on the 1600 point scale, ignoring the writing component). The more 750+ scores you have, the better. Your grades need to be very high.

There is a service called Naviance that many high schools use that plots SAT and grades for the past four years or so of applicants to each school. These are useful to look at, but often are password protected. Some allow guest viewing. Here's a link to a site that lists a number of them (I haven't checked to see if they're live), but if you go to some of the schools and look at the scattergrams of various schools you're interested in, you'll get a feeling for what the level of competition is. You can also just google Naviance guest password and you may find others. This will give you a decent feeling for what you are working with, and they usually have charts for many of the state universities too.

http://www2.newton.k12.ma.us/~brad_macgowan/naviance

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Re: Private college counselor

Post by Fisherman » Wed Dec 03, 2014 7:38 am

Thanks xpe and Bogglegrapper for the link

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