You (or your child) studied hard for three years in high school. You’ve now got a solid GPA, and along the way you took difficult classes: AP Calculus, AP Biology, AP US History, and AP Physics. You earned a 4 or a 5 on each of these difficult AP tests. You played several sports at the Varisity level, and even wrote for the school newspaper.
You’ve taken the ACT several times, as well. The first time you scored a 25. Then, you took an ACT prep course, and scored a 27. Finally, you hired a private ACT tutor, received customized help, and scored a 30. Now, your applications are looking good.
The problem is that thousands of other high school seniors are in the same boat, with generally impressive overall backgrounds. That’s why biting the bullet and paying for college admissions advice might be a worthwhile investment. There are three reasons why paying for college admissions advice might make sense:
#1 - If You Know What Admissions Committees are Looking For, Your Chances of Success Increase
There is an all-important general theme running through college application questions – the school is trying to learn more about you with each question, essay, or request for data. Admissions advisors are good at understanding what the school is trying to learn with every question on the application, and they’ll help you write responses which get at the core of what is being asked by the college. Certainly, they’ll also help you write generally better essays that are clearer and more concise.
#2 – College Is Expensive, and the Return on Investment Varies Widely
High quality admissions advice can be expensive – it could run you $2,000 or more. However, the return on a $200,000 investment associated with a B.S. in Engineering from, say, Northwestern University vs. a B.S. in Engineering from a middle of the road state school probably varies substantially. At Northwestern, better companies actively recruit, and you might end up finding a job quicker – or, let’s assume, you might end up earning $10,000 more per year for the next decade – $100,000 (over a decade). If you’re the type of candidate with even an outside shot at Northwestern, consider your odds.
Let’s assume you think without any admissions advice, you just wouldn’t get in. Also assume that Northwestern and the other school you’re considering cost about the same. With some help via personalized admissions advice, you might have a 1 in 5 shot at getting into Northwestern University, because your essays would position you really well. So, you face the following decision. Should you spend $2,000 for admissions advice, which would result in you having a 20% chance of earning an extra $100,000 over the next decade? Well, a 20% chance at $100,000 is worth $20,000 – that’s the expected value of the decision to spend $2,000 (for you finance people, let’s just ignore the time value of money here). Would you spend $2,000 to get $20,000? You can play with the numbers all you want, but that’s the idea. It’s not a clear cut choice.
#3 – Different Schools Seek Different Candidates
Many students don’t realize this, but different colleges really do seek different candidates. While some large public colleges simply use a sliding scale of GPA vs. ACT/SAT score, others read essays carefully and put much less weight on GPA, test scores, or both. Some private colleges receive many applications and are very selective overall, but also work carefully to construct the type of incoming class they desire. GPA and test score will always matter, but sometimes the college is historically short on athletes, or business majors, or whatever – which means if you are one of these people, your chances of admission go up. Professional admissions advisors understand these types of things, and can help you apply where your chances of getting a scholarship or getting admitted increase.
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