In our many years in the private college counseling business, we’ve seen it all. We’ve had the student whose mother secretly paid for our services because she didn’t want her husband to find out that she was investing money in helping her son get into the college of his dreams (heck, we’ve had a lot of these mothers). We’ve had the parent who only communicates with us through an assistant because the parent has political ties and they don’t want there to be any trace of a connection to the fact that their kid had help getting into a top college. We’ve had heirs to thrones, students who we are asked to refer to as “Your Majesty” (it’s happened — for real), homeless jugglers, LGBT service members kicked out of West Point because of the now-defunct “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy, and the children of Hollywood celebrities.
Here’s what we have to say to the mother whose husband doesn’t believe that their kid needs a private college consultant: Do you really want to come to us on Decision Day (today might be the real D-Day but in the world of highly selective college admissions, it’s not in June) and say you made a mistake not engaging with us sooner but you need our help with Regular Decision applications? Do you really want to ask yourself…did my kid make the right decision in terms of his Early Decision or Early Action school or did we completely just waste one of the most valuable assets in his arsenal? How is my kid going to feel when he doesn’t get into his dream colleges? Do I really want to be responsible when this happens (as it so often does)? Do I want to feel like I could have done something, like I could have done more?
Why live with regret? Why play these games? So you save some money by not working with a private college consultant? And then your kid doesn’t get into Yale. Instead, he ends up at UCLA as an out-of-stater. So you end up paying a lot of tuition for a school that doesn’t have the cache of Yale. Seems like a poor investment strategy to us. Talk about a reality check. Every time your kid goes on a job interview and the interviewer sees that he went to Yale, do you know what his assumption generally is? That he’s smart. It’s quite the assumption to have in your back pocket. That’s not necessarily the case for UCLA students, even though UCLA is a terrific school. So if you choose to not invest with a good private college counselor (and there certainly are bad ones), just know that your strategy can backfire for many years to come! And that’s the cold, hard truth.
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