How to Become an Admissions Consultant
If you like the idea of helping high schoolers get into and have a great college experience, becoming an admissions consultant might be a good career for you. To become an admissions consultant, you need the right credentials, including undergraduate and graduate degrees. Work hard to build your network by attending conferences and visiting colleges. Make a business plan that includes advertising to get news about your business out there.
Getting the Right Credentials
Earn a bachelor’s degree in education or counseling.A degree in school counseling is especially useful because you’ll learn how to advise students in a positive, productive way. You’ll also learn how to asses a student’s strengths and weaknesses. These are great skills to have as an admissions consultant.
Earn a graduate degree.Most companies that employ admissions consultants require a master’s degree in school counseling. Even as an independent consultant, having a graduate degree helps you look legitimate, and can help increase the number of potential clients.
- You can find schools with these types of programs through professional organizations like the Higher Education Consultants Association.
Work as an admissions counselor.If you’re interested in becoming an admissions consultant, it can help to work as an admissions counselor first. You’ll learn how the admissions process works and what colleges are looking for. That experience will help you help your clients make the right choices.
- You can also come to admissions consulting from other professions. CPAs or financial planners often make good admissions consultants because of the financial commitment college requires.
Join a professional organization.Professional organizations for admissions consultants include Higher Education Consultants Association (HECA) and the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA). Belonging to one gives you a built-in community, plus the prestige and legitimacy of belonging to a professional organization.
Building Your Network
Attend professional conferences.Education consultant organizations usually have annual conferences. These conferences give you a chance to speak with other consultants who can give you some good advice about the field. You’ll also have a chance to meet school representatives and learn what the admissions requirements are for different schools.
Visit colleges and universities to speak with admissions representatives.Your job is to match your student with the best possible university for them. This can mean visiting 40 to 60 colleges to learn about the university. Some employers will pay for this, but if you’re starting your own consulting business, you’ll have to do this on your own time and money.
Talk to admissions counselors.Ask them about the school’s admissions requirements when you visit, as well as available extra-curricular activities and scholarships. You should also ask for a tour of the campus. Knowing this about each college can help you direct your clients better.
Leave your business card with admissions counselors.Some parents are students may call the schools looking for a referral, so it can be a good way to build your network. It also creates a relationship with the counselor, who you can contact later about potential students.
Build a client base.Ask your friends, or the parents of your kids’ friends, to refer clients to you. Let them know you’re starting an admissions consulting business and ask them to recommend you to people who might be looking for a consultant.
Crafting Your Business
Create a business plan or budget.You’re likely to lose money the first year, break even or earn up to ,000 the second year, and make a real salary in the third. Knowing what your financial situation will look like can help you decide how many clients you need, what prices to charge, and how much work you need to do each year.
Choose your field or areas of specialization.There are so many schools and so many majors that there’s no way you can be an expert in all of them. Instead, focus on areas of specialization. This might mean focusing on schools with great teams for student athletes, schools with great teaching programs, or even schools in a specific geographic location.
- Choose your specialization based on the things that you like. If you’re not really into sports, you probably won’t be patient or passionate about helping student athletes find great schools.
Decide what services you’ll offer.You can offer full college placement services, which usually begin in 10th or 11th grade and include helping students select high school classes and extracurricular activities, choosing schools, helping write application materials, and helping with financial aid. You can also offer college visit assistance, and evaluation of high school activities.
Advertising Your Services
Create brochures.The brochure should include the services you provide, a list of successful placements (when you have them), your areas of specialization, and testimonials from satisfied customers. Don’t forget your contact info in case someone wants to use your services!
Communicate with other professionals.Anyone who works with teens in a professional setting - like psychologists and pediatricians - can be a good resources for advertising your services. Start your communication by sharing professional resources about working with teens with other professionals. Then remind them what you do and you tell them you’re happy to be referred to their own clients.
Ask to be included in high school programs.Get some direct contact for your target audience by putting advertisements in high school programs. You can place your ad in playbills, honors night or graduation programs, and really anything else high schools produce.
- The cost of these types of ads will vary depending on the school, the type of program, and the size of your ad. If you’re interested in placing one, call the school and ask the secretary who you need to speak to.
Create a website for your business.Having a website lets people who need your services find you - they don't have to wait for you to give them a brochure or your card. You can make your own website through host websites like WordPress, or you can pay a professional web developer to make you one.
- If you're low on start-up money, it might be best to make your own free basic website and upgrade to a professionally produced one later.
Develop a social media presence.It's a good idea to keep your business's social media presence and your personal one separate. You can create accounts across a lot of social media platforms and use them to update your clients, advertise your services, and show off our successes.
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