Are college advisors worth it?

Advantage College Planning is one of many companies that offers college advising services for prospective college students. To further explore their services, visit their website at (Photo courtesy of Valentina Fernandez)

College advisors, like everything related to the college application process, have their pros and cons. 

From one perspective, they offer specialized guidance to help a student create a more well rounded college application. However, on the opposite side of the spectrum, college advisors are an expensive resource that isn’t accessible for every student.

This being said, it’s important to compare the outcomes of investing in a college advisor versus not investing in a college advisor. 

Taking all these factors into consideration, are college advisors worth it, or are they over-hyped?

Why get a college advisor in the first place?

Junior year is around the time where, in my experience, students start to commit most of their time to building their resumes in preparation for college applications. In simple terms, students start frantically trying to do everything they can all at once for a shot at acceptance to their goal school.

Trying to do everything is extremely stressful; in my case it meant taking a Wake Tech class (on top of the eight classes I took this year), picking up new responsibilities within my club, working towards being EIC of newspaper, volunteering at a local daycare twice a week, and working at my job twice a week. Still, it just felt like it was never going to be enough.

I really felt like I was putting in all this work, but I had no idea where to start in terms of actually applying for colleges.

I was introduced to the idea of a college advisor through my close friend. She and her older sisters had worked with this college advisor to earn acceptance to Davidson University, Duke University, and hopefully, Georgetown University.

I scheduled a meeting with the same advisor, and my parents and I met with her shortly after. 

By the end of the meeting, I felt confident that working with this advisor would be the right choice for me. 

After discussing with my parents and deciding what plan would work best for me, we moved forward with the advisor. 

The pros

At this point in my application process, my advisor has helped me determine my strengths and weaknesses and use them to my advantage. She has provided me with resources and information I otherwise would not have been able to use. 

On top of that, the most noticeable benefit I’ve noticed has been the decrease in my stress surrounding college applications.

My main cause of stress was realizing that I really had no idea where to even begin in terms of finding colleges that catered to what I wanted.

Through working with my college advisor, I was able to better understand what I need to be successful in college and find colleges that fit that description.

Signing into Common Ap, creating a list of prospective colleges, and visiting some of those colleges has been a long process, but it would’ve been a much harder journey without my advisor.

My main concern was that it would take a long time for me to feel the benefits of a college advisor, but I’ve noticed all these benefits within the four and a half months I’ve been working with my advisor.

However, although the benefits are obvious, there are a few cons of working with a college advisor that have cast a shadow on my experience.

The cons

The main con of the entire experience is the cost. 

The reason I was even able to move forward with a college advisor in the first place is because I am paying for a third of the cost out of my own pocket.

College advisors cost thousands of dollars. As a 17-year-old student with a part-time job, paying a third of the cost puts a serious dent in my wallet. The other two-thirds of the cost, another several thousand dollars, is being covered by my parents. 

The other thing to consider is, you’re paying for a college advisor to help you get into college, where you’ll spend even more money.

As a junior, I haven’t started applying for colleges yet, so I haven’t seen the long-term benefit of a college advisor in terms of acceptance rates.

This brings me to my next point; not only is there no guarantee that you will get into your dream college, but I’ve found that my confidence in my ability to make it into colleges has decreased while working with a college advisor.

When discussing colleges that I used to think were realistic for me, my advisor seemed to think they were a reach.

After my first meeting with my advisor, I left feeling as though I would barely be able to get into community college, much less one of my dream colleges.

While I think having the opinion of a professional advisor who knows the college application process is vital to my success, I shouldn’t feel completely discouraged from even applying to my reach schools.

In my opinion, a college advisor should push you to do your very best and shoot for the stars. Having reach schools is important and it’s worth putting effort into reaching one’s goals.

Having said all this, there’s a possibility i’m too sensitive… but separate to my feelings, the price is still absurd.

So is it worth it?

Taking everything I’ve experienced into consideration, I still believe some form of college advising is worth it.

The cost of a professional college advisor makes them a luxury resource, not accessible for the majority of students.

However, working with an adult or someone comfortable and knowledgeable about the college application process has valuable benefits.

Instead of a college advisor, students can worth with school counselors or other outside resources to experience similar benefits without having to pay outrageous amounts of money.

Overall, I think having professional guidance is a huge stress reliever, but the cost makes college advisors widely inaccessible; the bang isn’t always worth the buck.


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