It’s now February, six months into our daughter’s college-application process, and we could not be happier: She has a (virtual) stack of college-acceptance letters and some sizable scholarship offers. She has several more months to research her top choices. But wait, there’s more! She and her parents are talking regularly and calmly about her upcoming decision, like we are all mature adults…including the parents!
It’s easy to see how we got to this point, where she has wonderful options. It’s also easy to see how hard this might have been without the help of our college admissions counselor.
How an Independent Educational Consultant Reduces Overwhelm and Familial Tension
The list of steps involved looks simple – choose some colleges that look good, apply, wait, pick the best one. But each step requires a gajillion mini-steps, starting with the fact that there are more than 5,000 colleges and universities in the United States.
A good consultant will create a schedule of small-bite tasks that match each college’s timetable. A great consultant will interview the parents and student to identify points of possible disagreement, such as cost and location, in order to refine the list of colleges that the student applies to. These conversations — informed by a consultant’s understanding of how to maximize financial aid — reduce misunderstandings, tension and even heartbreak for the student. Financial-aid offers cannot be predicted in advance, but at least families can come to an understanding early on of what the constraints will be.
Moving from a Parent-Child to Parent-Young Adult Relationship
When our daughter goes to college, she will manage her course selection, her workload, her roommate issues, her job or activities, her nutrition and sleep, and her overall well-being. September should not be the first time she takes sole charge of her life. Our college-admissions counselor has helped us to step back, by encouraging us to share our concerns with her, while still mentoring her toward making the college choice herself.
Better Prepared to Thrive When She Gets to College
Our daughter is learning details that she might not have on her own, such as obscure degree requirements. With no consultant, if she were to pick a college that her parents also happen to like, she might feel that we pressured her and that she never truly authored the decision. I believe that her hard-won sense of ownership will give her more loyalty to her chosen college in the face of whatever unexpected obstacles the school presents. And if she should decide, later on, that she wants to transfer, she will know how to pursue that option.
I don’t know which college our daughter will choose by May 1, but thanks to our college admissions counselor, I know that her options are sound and that our family has been strengthened by this group effort.
Erika Casriel is a freelance writer based in Highlands, NJ. Her daughter is working with independent educational consultant Jason Vallozzi of Campus to Career Crossroads.