What is a College Advisor?

The following post was written by our Director of Client Services (and mother of 2 college and 1 high school students), Deb Coco. 

What is a College Advisor?  It’s one of the first questions you ask a new acquaintance  . . . “what do you do?”  And when I reply “I am a college admissions counselor” I often get a puzzled look.  The next question is always “do you work for a school?” and that leads into a discussion about what we at the College Advisor of New York actually do.

I understand the initial query because we are somewhat of a new kid on the block.  My memory of being a high school student involved only my high school “guidance” counselor and my parents navigating me through the admissions process.  However, as we’ve said in previous posts, the landscape has changed.  Parents phone us now, often overwhelmed and confused by a system with which they feel uncomfortable, and they are searching for help.

That’s where we come in.  We help families find the “right fit” school for their students.  By “right fit” we mean academically and socially for the child and financially for the parents.  This used to be easy and the stakes weren’t nearly as high.  My first tuition bill is now the equivalent of what my daughter’s books cost per year.  . . this is no joke.  Families who begin the college search on their own often quickly realize they are in over their heads.  Common questions include “Will my child be a competitive applicant?”;  “What type of student gets into an Ivy now?”; “How do we prepare for the SAT?”; “What is the timeline for the application process?”; “Will we qualify for need based aid?  How about scholarships?”; and the all too real “Did we save enough?”

These are all important questions and we have the answers.  We shepherd families from the beginning of the process right through to the final decision.  For students, we offer major and career counseling, a customized school list based on a series of unique assessments, essay coaching and editing and application guidance and review.  We empower students to take ownership of the college admissions process.  For parents,  we “have your back” so to speak, and often provide a cushion between parents and students when emotions run high.  We help parents understand their unique parenting role throughout the process.  In fact, we often spend as much time coaching parents as we do their kids!  What sets us apart from other counselors  is complete guidance through the financial aid and scholarship strategy process.  For many of our parents this is our most valuable service.  Many families will not qualify for need based aid, but they have no idea how to come up with the extra $55,000-$61,000 yearly tuition, room, board and fees (yes, those figures aren’t a typo).  We help parents plan and strategize early on in the process, submit the correct financial aid forms, maximize aid and scholarships, and then guide them in making the best family decision in the end.

The college search process is often an emotional transition for families.  It’s with a heavy heart that we send our children off into the world, and it becomes even more stressful when we feel out of our element.  We can help, because ultimately, knowledge is power.  And we help you understand that you have the power to make the best college decision.