Take An Expert’s Advice
As parents and students begin to ponder the future, many families wonder whether they should hire a private counselor or take guidance from a third party to help plan their education. The answer to this question varies for applicants in different situations. For example, most MBA or graduate students applicants seek outside advising to substitute as a mentor through the application process – someone who can weigh-in on recommender choices or program selection and overall congruity between career goals and educational plans. For undergraduate applicants, however, families often require guidance on both the big picutre as well as the nitty gritty of applying, financing and lifestyle considerations.
For graduates, if a good mentor is available at work or among seniors who have recently gone through the application process, an outside counselor may not be needed. The most important components for getting through graduate applications with sanity (and hopefully success) are diligence, planning and realistic time-lines. Some applicants can execute all of this on their own, but others need external support to help stay focused.
Whatever your situation, if you are considering outside help for your application, do your homework. Professional counselors should have a demonstrated track record and be willing to share references. They should not write essays or recommendation letters (a counselor’s handiwork can be easily identified by admissions committees if essays all start sounding too similar). But most importantly, when choosing a counselor, trust your instincts. If someone doesn’t appeal to you, move on. No matter how popular a counselor is, if you cannot develop a rapport, the relationship will not be fruitful. In the end a counselor can only help you showcase what you already have, so find the one who believes in you.