Private College Adviser Just Another Status Symbol

Sebastian Fojut, Staff Writer

As college admissions get more and more competitive, students feel increasing pressure to perfect their college “resumes.” In some cases, parents will even hire a private college counselor to assist with college preparations.

This is a waste of money.

While it may make things easier, employing a college adviser takes away a critical opportunity for a student to learn how to be self reliant and access resources already freely available.

Take my sister, senior Sabrina Fojut, and her friends, who were able to complete their college applications and be accepted by their colleges of choice simply by enlisting the help of Joan Batcheller, our college counselor in the college and career center.

“As long as you are your own advocate and stay on top of things, you really aren’t missing out on anything by not using a private counselor,” said senior Kate Hardiman, who will be attending UC Santa Barbara after being admitted into its Honors program.

Batcheller’s services, which are available to all students free of charge, include helping manage extracurricular activities for college, offering advice for the best path to take for admissions, selecting a college that is a good fit, and any other tasks that a privately funded counselor may be hired to do.

“I am always here to help students,” said Batcheller. “Many students who are lost often take a while to request my assistance.”

Campus professionals like Batcheller are experienced, qualified, and free; Why would anyone pay for the same services?

According to the New York Times, parents from Irvine, California were paying $8,000 per month to keep an admission counselor on retainer for their child to help them with the college application process. In Lamorinda, the hourly expense for a college application consultant is approximately $200 per hour. Most private counselors also offer full-service packages where they will help students from sophomore year through college admissions.

These counselors will asses areas of academic interest, help select colleges, chose the classes to take in high school, help prepare the applications, review personal essays.  Some will refer students to other college admission experts, for an additional cost,  who specialize in reviewing the personal essays or prepare students for their standardized tests.

Yet again, these services are also available here on campus at no cost. Every Wednesday and Friday the College and Career center brings in a private college counselor to be available to students. “If you are a senior who goes to the Academies, you can potentially get all the help you need,” said Batcheller. Essentially, seniors already have opportunities to meet with these outside professionals during Academy periods.  That’s a $200 value.

I understand that for some overachieving students applying to many different schools, the convenience and personal attention of a private counselor sounds enticing. But this is just another example of how our culture of comparison continues to drive students to unnecessary levels of anxiety and to pay for unnecessary services.

Private college counselors are ultimately just status symbols in a community obsessed with status.

In the interest of developing self reliance, as well as important financial management skills, students should ignore the hype over private advisers and  take advantage of the free resources offered by the campus college and career center.