Best College Admissions Consulting Services

A checklist to help you determine the Best Admissions Consultants for your college needs.

Choosing The Best Admissions Consultant Is About Being A Savvy Consumer

So you have decided to apply to college and to hire an admissions consultant. What now? There is no national ranking system of the best admissions consultants, even though some national magazines do publish their own rankings - see Entrepreneur Magazine's Looking To Get Into Top College? These Are the Best College Admissions Consulting Companies of 2020. So there's no easy way to determine if an admissions consultant is qualified and knowledgeable about the admissions process.

Below we provide a checklist of questions you should ask the admissions consultant you decide to interview:

Best Admissions Consultants

1. Admissions Committee Experience

  • Has the consultant worked in a college admissions office? (Experience working in a college admissions office is probably the most important factor as no one in the field knows more about admissions than individuals who have worked in the admissions offices of the colleges to which you will be applying.)
  • How many years did the consultant work in a college admissions office? (Be sure that the admissions officer didn't only spend a summer interning at the admissions office, but actually worked as a full-time employee)
  • In which colleges did the consultant work?

2. Provable Results

  • Can the consultant produce actual acceptance letters from successful clients for the most recent admissions cycle? Acceptance letters are the ultimate reference as they are proof of where clients got in and of the client's satisfaction with the service (clients who are dissatisfied don't send in their acceptance letters). References can be faked and provide no proof of which colleges a student was accepted to. See our clients' acceptance letters here, which are the best reviews for Solomon Admissions Consulting.
  • What is the consultant's success rate at each college you are interested in? (Ask for an exact percentage for each school such as success rate at Stanford, Columbia, NYU, etc. The best admissions consultants keep track of such statistics, so if a consultant can't give you concrete numbers, then that most likely means that his or her success rate is not very good at those schools.) View our Independent Accountant Report for the Most Recent Admissions Cycle.
  • Does the consultant guarantee acceptance? (If so, run. No reputable college admissions consultant guarantees admission, especially to selective schools like Stanford and Harvard. There are no guarantees since elite college admissions are a subjective process.)

3.  Writing Coaches

  • Is the person editing your child's personal statement a professional writer with top-notch academic pedigree and publications? (Many college admissions consultants either edit the essays themselves or have people who are not professional writers edit the essays. Unfortunately, the people who know the most about the admissions process are often not the best writers.)
  • Does the editor provide substantive changes to the essays or do they simply do grammatical edits? (Many college admissions consultants do a bait and switch and provide only grammatical edits after promising substantive edits. Ask for a sample before and after essay work product to see the quality of the edits.)
  • Does the editor maintain your student's unique voice? (Ask for a sample before and after the essay.)

Check out our article on 7 College Application Essays Do's and Don'ts

4.  Methodology and Culture

  • Does the college admissions consultant have a clear methodology for determining your student's unique positioning strategy (his narrative) and for driving the entire process, or does the consultant let the student drive the process?
  • Does the consultant use a team-based approach to bounce unfamiliar questions off other consultants who may have more knowledge on the topic?
  • Is the culture of the consulting company one that treats you like a number or one that is invested in your child's future success?


5.  Special Cases

  • If your child is a potential recruited athlete, does the consultant have extensive experience placing recruited athletes at the schools on your list?
  • If your child is an over-represented minority facing discrimination issues, does the consultant have extensive experience marketing similar students and successfully getting them into their top choice colleges?
  • If your child is a legacy or development case, does the consultant have experience placing similar students at the schools on your list?

6.  Cost and Membership in Professional Organizations

  • How does the cost of the consultant compare to other consultants with similar admissions committee experience and success rates? (Be careful about companies that offer services at too low a cost. This may mean that they have a dearth of clients as a result of low success rates or lack of knowledge.)
  • Is the admissions consultant someone local who primarily works with students within driving distance, or is the consultant someone in demand nationally who works with students across the entire country?
  • Is the consulting company a member of a recognized professional organization like NACAC (National Association for College Admission Counseling) that upholds high ethical standards for college counseling? You can search for NACAC members here.