You can pay for college admissions advice from any number of independent counselors who provide their qualified advice over the phone, but the first question you should ask is whether the counselor you are paying is the right person for you. You will not receive the targeted advice you need to make your best decision if your counselor just plugs your GPA and ACT/SAT scores into a formula, or the counselor immediately assumes that you want to attend an Ivy League or some other name brand school. Before you contact and pay for a college admissions counselor, you should understand two preliminary matters, and then you should proceed from those matters to interview and qualify your counselor.

The first preliminary matter is that "we" are not going to college, only "you" are. Many well-meaning parents and family members become overly-involved in the college admission process. This is entirely understandable, given that parents will want to see their children succeed and that they will be paying for the bulk of their children's college experience. Nonetheless, the time that you spend at your college will be your time. You need to understand what you (and not your parents) want from a college in order for your college admissions counselor's advice to have any value.

The second preliminary matter is that there are more than 4,000 two- and four-year colleges in the United States. This further implies that there is some place in that college universe for everyone. The college admissions counselor that you will pay should be familiar with as large a sample of that universe as is possible in order to help you locate and select the best college for you. You will find any number of anecdotal stories about intelligent high school students who floundered in the highly-competitive environment of a top-tier college, with similar corollary stories about students who thrived at mid-level colleges that better suited their desires and abilities. 

Once you have digested these preliminary matters, you can develop your own list of interview questions for a college admissions counselor. Your questions should reflect you, your study habits and abilities, and your personality. Listen carefully to the counselor's answers to your questions. Your instincts will inevitably tell you if a counselor is the best independent counselor for you.

The college admissions process is both exciting and unsettling. If you are paying for qualified advice from a counselor who is advising you by phone, make sure you are working with a counselor that takes the time to know you and to give you the advice that will put you in your ideal college environment.

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