College Counselors: Are they worth the money?

Hannah Vogel, Editor-in-Chief/ Web Manager

Getting into college today has become an industry. We pay thousands of dollars for ACT and SAT tutors and college counselors. Yet, no one asks: are these amenities necessary?

Personally, I think not.

Like every other prospective college-bound student, I started by studying for the ACT. So, naturally, I thought it necessary to go seek tutoring. My family spent around $2,000 at AR academics, and, in return, I received a 27 on my first test.

Determined to get a higher score I took the test again, this time studying by myself. I got a 29. Besides the calculator hacks downloaded onto my calculator, AR academics didn’t provide me with an advantage. So, when the time came around to begin applying for college, I didn’t see how paying another grand—to tell me what I already know—would benefit me.

Of course there are many perks of having a college counselor: they edit your essays, provide you with reach, target, and safety schools, and, hopefully, make the process easier for you. However, I think I should know better than anyone what my reach, target, and safety schools are. Afterall, shouldn’t we—after thirteen years of education—know our academic abilities well enough to understand which schools are a fit for us? I don’t need someone to tell me I can get into a state school, but NYU might be a reach—I know that. I don’t need someone to tell me where to put my commas in my essay and how to respond to a prompt. At the end of the day, you know you abilities better than a professional.

When it comes to college essays, having an outside source look at your essay and provide commentary is certainly helpful; however, my essay is my essay. My words are my words. I don’t need them—nor do I want them—changed to sound more academic or intelligent.

In fact, most of the admissions counselors reading our essays are in their mid twenties.

Therefore, they know how a seventeen year old writes. I know my essays aren’t perfect; however, I want my essays to reflect my insight and my voice. For others who aren’t as confident in their writing skills, however, I can see why having an adult look over your essays is helpful. However, although a second set of trained eyes is helpful, Mrs. Vanmill in the writing lab and the College and Career Center are free and more than qualified to edit, advise, and guide seniors through their college application process. Mrs. Bergen, arguably, knows more about the colleges you’re interested in than the average college counselor. She organizes college visits and meets with the reps from every school. Does a college counselor do that?  

I’m not saying that college counselors are useless; I am saying that I think their benefits do not outweigh the heavy price tag that comes with their guidance. Please, take advantage of your immediate resources.