Why Hire An Educational Consultant?

Mark Montgomery works with Chinese studentsSome people ask why one would seek the assistance of a professional college counselor.  Different people may seek us out for different reasons.  But a good college consultant can do the following.

  • Pay attention to each student’s needs
  • Alleviate stress for both student and parent
  • Give the student a competitive edge
  • Eliminate the confusion
  • Save money


College selection and application is a very time-consuming process.   Counseling—of all types—requires time and energy from a professional.  But school guidance counselors are overworked and have less time than perhaps they once did to give personalized college counseling.

The National Association for College Admissions Counseling (NACAC) recommends that a college counselor work with no more than about one hundred students per year.  However, a study by the National Association for College Admissions Counseling (NACAC) measured the degree to which school counselors are overworked.

  • Nationwide, the average college counselor in a public high school serves 315 students. In Colorado, the public school student-to- counselor ratio is 553:1.
  • The student-to-college-counselor ratio is higher in large schools: nationally, in schools of more than 2000 students, the ratio is 654:1. Colorado has 18 high schools of this size–all along the Front Range.

Choosing a college is not something that is easily left to computer programs and mathematical algorithms.  The admissions process, while seemingly quite simple on its face, can necessitate different strategies and tactics for each individual student.  As public schools continue to reduce the number of guidance counselors, parents are turning to private counselors to ensure that their children get the direction they need and deserve.



Choosing a college can be stressful for a variety of reasons.  First, parents, who have been nurturing their children since the day they were born, have a hard time delegating this important decision to their children.  Second, students are not always equipped to make this first great life decision:  most students have not made their own educational decisions or chosen their schools.  They may not possess the self-knowledge to make this decision, and may need to work through a process to develop a strong set of criteria on which to base this decision.

To make matters worse, the junior and senior years of high school can be very difficult for students.  They have many competing priorities to balance:  improving their grades, deepening their extracurricular commitments, and preparing for those annoying SAT and ACT tests (and don’t forget the difficulty of maintaining a social life!). For these reasons—and many others—the college selection and application process becomes a vortex of anxiety for everyone.

An experienced college consultant can help reassure nervous parents, guide students through a process of self-discovery, and ensure that all the administrative pieces are managed with efficiency and accuracy.  The transition from high school to college should be an exciting time in a young person’s life, full of anticipation and promise, and a professional college counselor can maintain the focus on the excitement—and not the stress.



College admissions today seems much more competitive than ever before.  More and more students are applying to college, and each student is applying to more colleges.  Acceptance rates at selective colleges continue to decline.  So how can college-bound students give themselves a competitive edge?

As noted above, high school guidance counselors are overburdened.  So more and more families are turning to private consultants to help select the right colleges and guide the student through the admissions process.  According to the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA), an estimated 22% of freshmen at private, four-year colleges have used some kind of consulting services in the admission process.

Private day and boarding schools have more robust college counseling programs than do public schools.  The student to counselor ratio at a private school may be as low as 50:1, compared to the national average of 315:1.  Obviously, some students are getting more help than others.

Good guidance in selecting the right schools and in completing the application can make the difference between acceptance and rejection.  We can help your son or daughter develop an appropriate college selection and admissions strategy to give them the best possible chance of reaching their educational goals.



One of the great benefits of the Internet age is that students and parents have much more access to enormous amounts of information.  With literally thousands of websites devoted to college selection and admission, parents and students can learn more about college admission than ever before.

But knowledge is not bliss: the overwhelming quantity of information that does little to clarify our vision and answer our individual questions.  Which information is useful?  Which sources can I trust?  Which information applies to my child’s particular situation?  The huge expansion of available information has created a new burden of having to sift through zillions of bits and bytes for useful tidbits.

An experienced college consultant can help do the sifting for you.  By focusing primarily on your student, the counselor can pull the information that is directly relevant to the student’s situation.  And because a good counselor also knows colleges well, he can select colleges that closely match the student’s needs, abilities, and ambitions.



In today’s economy, almost all parents are looking for a bargain in higher education.  The biggest sources of financial aid and scholarship money in the United States are the colleges and universities themselves.  Colleges award better financial aid and scholarship packages to the students that best match their institutional values and priorities.  Thus for the price-sensitive family, it is crucial that the student select colleges that are a perfect fit—not only for the student, but for the college.

While we can never guarantee a particular outcome, we have a strong record of helping families reduce the overall cost of a college education by carefully selecting the right colleges to which to apply.  Even families that do not expect any financial aid often find that working with us can save them tens of thousands of dollars in tuition bills.

So while hiring an educational consultant may seem like a hefty cost, many families are surprised at how much money they can save by hiring an experienced college consultant.


Read five more reasons to hire a college consultant.


Mark Montgomery
Educational Consultant


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Published by Mark Montgomery

Mark is a leading educational consultant. His experience as a professor, college administrator, and youth mentor help him guide students from around the country and around the world.

Join the Conversation


  1. Mark, today it seems that everywhere you turn someone is professing to be an expert, from riff-raffs to heavy credentialed fast talkers. How does one wade through the slick talk and really choose a consultant to work with their child and I?

    Also, while experts can certainly make life easier, families must realize that this will not allow them to off-load the entire college prep and planning process on someone else.

    BTW good advice!



  2. Hello, Johnny,
    One way parents can separate the “riff-raff” an the experts is to ask questions. Two good sources of impartial assistance in deciding whom to hire are the Independent Educational Consultant’s Association (IECA) and the Higher Education Consultants Association (HECA). You can check out IECA’s advice for hiring a consultant here. I find HECA’s advice a bit more pointed, and you can find those words of wisdom here. I am a member of both organizations, as well as the National Association of College Admissions Counselors (NACAC).

    Like any other profession, one will find excellent consultants as well as hucksters, and parents do have a responsibility to do a bit of due diligence when seeking a consultant. That’s why I’m always happy to let prospective clients talk to my past clients. It’s one good way to determine whether I’m able to deliver on my promises.

    As you point out, it’s also important for parents (and students) to realize that getting Great College Advice is not the same as “off-loading the enter college prep and planning process to someone else.” My colleagues and I are strive to be the guide from the side, helping students make good decisions, and offering new ideas and insights into the process. We always reinforce the fact that this process and decision is the responsibility of the student. We can be helpful in many very specific, very valuable ways. But in the end, the student must lead the way. We’re happy to help make the journey more productive and more pleasant.

  3. Mark, I have a son that is in the eighth grade this year. He is in all AP calsses and has been in the Gifted programs since second grade. He has always and continues to show his interest in the sciences. Last year as a 7th grader he joined the Duke TIPS program and took the SAT and was recognized by the TIPS program and the school district we live in for his accomplishment. Recently got a post card from the Culver Academy (boarding school) asking him to participate in thier contest for a full scholarship. this prompted us to look into other boarding schools to see reputations and back grounds.

    I have to state here that I was not the student my son is. We are very proud of him and want to provide the best education we can possibly get for him. He is open to the idea of boarding school, we have requested information from 7 of what looks to be the top schools for us to review.

    I came across your site here while loking for professional help with this. We are not sure where to go from here since never in our wildest dreams would we have thought these kind of opportunities would arise. We are torn between boarding schools and day schools, as well as which ones would be best to attend.

    We live in TX and could very much use the help of a professional to help us out with this. I don’t know if you can help with the High School decisions or maybe help direct us to someone that can.

    Thank you

  4. Dear Jason,
    Thanks for your inquiry. We do help with boarding school advice, and I have just the consultant for you. If you would please contact me via my website contact form, I can put you in touch with her right away so you can determine whether she can help you navigate this exciting moment in your son’s educational trajectory.

    Best regards,


  5. I am looking for a college consultant who can help my senior high school daughter to apply for academic scholarship in houston (the woodlands, tx)

  6. Dear Huong,

    I would be happy to chat with you about how to help your daughter apply for scholarships. As you may know, colleges themselves are the largest source of scholarships for college, and if your daughter is a good student, she may be eligible for thousands of dollars in grants and/or tuition discounts. The trick is to find the colleges that most want her particular attributes. When we make a good match between the student’s desires and talent and aspirations, then colleges are more likely provide the sort of financial resources you are talking about.

    Please give me a call at 720.279.7577, and I’ll explain more about how we can help you and your daughter save money.

    Thanks for your inquiry!

  7. Hello Mark,

    My husband and I are hoping to find someone who can help us apply for scholarships and grants for our daughter (sophmore in high school). She is an honor student who takes mostly honors and AP classes. She wants to go to a university in Tennesse….I am a teacher so she will qualifiy for a 25% discount for attending a state college. I feel like she would come closer to qualifying for an academic scholarship…she does not play sports and she isn’t in the band.
    Could you please share some information about your fees and services?

    Thank you,

  8. Dear Jamie,

    I’d be happy to talk with you about our services and how we can help you save money in the college search and application process. As you point out, academic scholarships are the #1 way in which students are able to earn themselves a quality education at an affordable price. I encourage you to give me a call at 720.279.7577. I worked with a young woman from Tennessee last year, and I have students attending both Rhodes and Sewanee. I’d be delighted to talk to you.


  9. I like all the advice on this website. Do you help students from out of your area?
    We live in southern california

  10. Dear Judi,

    Thanks for your comment. I absolutely do work with students in California. I have a couple from that state right now. Please give me a call at 720.279.7577.

    I look forward to speaking to you.


  11. My son is a senior in high school. He is a really good AP caliber student, and a full-time football player and wrestler. He has applied to about 10 schools. Engineering and D3 Football are his goals in college. He is having difficulty in being disciplined enough to fill out scholarship that pertain to him specifically. My husband are clueless in this area and his guidance counselor is very vague and general. What should we do?

  12. With my daughter graduating from high school next year, we are wanting to prepare for as best as we can for college. We have had heard about hiring a education consultant, but are curious to know if this is something that is really necessary. I like how you pointed out that getting one will help alleviate stress that might come with choosing a college and for her getting through her senior year. It might be nice for her to have someone there that might be able to point her in the right direction.

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