I Said I’d Never Become an Independent College Consultant. Then I did.
by Bethany Schweitzer
Being an independent consultant, I had a number of friends send me the New York Times blog post “I Said We’d Never Hire a College Admissions Adviser. Then We Did.” Fascinated to see what she had to say, I dove right into the article. Curious as always I scrolled down and started reading the comments. As I read all of the negative criticisms geared towards the independent consultant I was transported back to my first Law School Admissions Council admissions fair. I was hired to work as an admissions recruiter for a law school and my first event was the LSAC fair in Chicago where law schools from across the United States set up their tables to recruit prospective law students. Halfway through my first day a woman marched an apprehensive student up to our table and asked point blank if we would admit her with a low GPA and even lower LSAT score. I felt bad for the student. As they walked away I looked at my fellow recruiter and asked what that was about. She explained the role of the dreaded independent consultant. This girl had hired an independent consultant to help her get into law school. In this moment, the stigma was born in my mind. Consultant=evil, Admission office=good.
A few years later working in a different admissions office, I was tasked enrolling students. Many times they would have 3-4 transcripts after transferring from one school to another. I kept thinking, “This shouldn’t be happening. Why aren’t they picking the right college, persevering and graduating in 4-5 years?” It was during my time spent in this admissions office that I saw the need for an independent consultant. School counselors are overworked, underpaid and under appreciated. Admissions counselors are tasked with filling seats and not necessarily filling those seats with the right students.
My mom (a school counselor) and I used to discuss this problem at length over cups of tea. “How could we make a difference?” “What could be done to help students find their right fit the first time?” “Why are they transferring and ending up with mounds of debt and no degree?” We wrestled with these questions and came up with an answer. We could open a company and become “evil consultants”. It was through these conversations that the idea for College Ready was born.
We are approaching our ten year anniversary. We have helped hundreds of students and very few have transferred. I am proud of the work that we are doing. Contrary to public belief, we are not a company for only rich kids. We have families from varied socioeconomic backgrounds hiring our services. Annually we take on 1-2 scholarship students that would not otherwise be able to afford our services.
The best piece of advice we give to families considering hiring our company (or any other consulting company)–when you are interviewing ask for credentials. Do the consultants have experience that truly make them experts in the admission process? Through this journey I have learned that there is a place for independent consultants. Many consultants are doing great work and can really help students and families through the process.