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Picking a college is about more than finding a place to study for a few years. It’s about beginning to find yourself. Choosing the right college or university can be your first step on the road to both lifelong professional and personal success.

Meanwhile, the admissions process can seem stressful, tedious, and sometimes even downright arbitrary. From the application to the essay to the interview (and don’t forget those standardized tests), there are any number of obstacles, potholes, and detours along the way. To make matters even more complicated, different universities are often looking for different criteria from different applicants.

Sound heavy? That’s because it is. Sound confusing or even scary? It doesn’t have to be.

The right college admissions counselor can help you cut through the chaos and anxiety to find the right fit for your budget, your focus, and your future.

Here are 3 reasons why you should consider hiring a professional college counselor:

Reason #1
Personal Attention with Professional Insight – High school guidance counselors are often overwhelmed, catering to dozens of students with a standardized, cookie-cutter approach. Frequently, their strategies are specific to your high school or region and based on results from 5, 10, or even 20 years ago. The problem is you’re competing against candidates from all over the nation and the world right now. A professional counselor will not only get to know you on a personal level, but they’ll also craft a custom strategy tailored to you while providing a bird’s-eye view of the current admissions landscape in real time. You’ve never applied to college before, right? Why not hire someone who’s made a career of helping others navigate the way.

Reason #2
Making Your Selection a Strong Suit – The admissions process has changed dramatically in recent years. With more and more applicants, universities are using data to target acceptance letters and scholarship opportunities to students they think will attend. An experienced counselor can help prioritize important factors like cost, interest, location, campus culture, and more. They’ll also ensure you keep an open mind by challenging your assumptions and suggesting schools you may have never considered. A qualified counselor can help formulate a balanced bracket of safe, reach, and match schools to give you a wide range of options when it’s time to make a final decision.

Reason #3
Acing the Application, Essay, and Interview – Professional college counselors are attuned to changes in the field and have a unique insight into what college admissions offices are looking for. They know how to play to your strengths and highlight your abilities, talents, and potential in ways that resonate and make an impact on your application. On the other hand, counselors can suggest ways to shore up areas that may be lacking and ensure your demonstrate interest in targeted schools. They can coach you through the application process, ensure you meet deadlines, provide resources to boost your test scores, and serve as a sounding board for essay topics. By providing an independent perspective, college counselors offer invaluable feedback and objective advice in selling you as a prospective student to admissions offices. The process is rigorous and counselors can also often provide the gentle yet firm push some applicants need to dig deep and rise to the occasion.

The right college can be your launchpad on a trajectory of success beyond your wildest dreams. It’s about more than what you want to do. It’s about who you want to be and how you’re going to get there

But getting in isn’t easy. The right college counselor should be a partner on this journey – one you can trust and count on in facing one of the first big tests of adulthood. Whether they suggest a school that’s not even on your radar, direct you to SAT tutoring resources, challenge you to rewrite your essay for the tenth time, serve as a buffer between you and your parents, or just provide a much needed “reality check, they’re here to help. Furthermore, a professional college counselor is invested in your overall success and hiring one will ultimately help you save money by picking the right school the first time around.

Most importantly, a professional college counselor will put you first, ensuring that you define your application and admissions process – not the other way around.

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