I am an independent college counselor.

Counselor, like helping kids who are in trouble?  Uh, not exactly.

You help them get higher SAT scores?  Uh, no.

You help them study so they get higher grades?  Not really.

You make sure they get into their first choice school?  Only the student can actually do that, it’s one of the topics I stress…

Sorry to interrupt – what do you do, again?

I am a college search planner.

(Silence…)

I’ve had multiple conversations that sounded much like the scenario described above. And I realize that not everybody is familiar with my wonderful professional field.  So, let me explain what I do (and do NOT do).

I do not tell you where to go.  I do not “get you into”  a school. I teach you how to fish, rather than set a plate of tilapia in front of you.   Or, if you don’t like seafood, I am the driving instructor, not the chauffeur.

My goal is to ensure that you make informed decisions during the college search, including your final decision regarding enrollment in college, based on best available information.  I believe, as someone who worked on “the other side” for 23 years, I can provide a special perspective on the college admission and financial aid process.

College is a major investment. It is an investment of money, but also of time and effort.  The college you select generally has profound effects in terms of professional development, but also your personal development.  It dramatically influences your career (at least your initial one), but it also shapes values and friendships.

Like most major purchases, you receive lots of shiny product information and you receive some guidance from generally well-meaning sales professionals. College Education (at least not-for-profit, “traditional” education) is generally done as a softer sell by someone who often doesn’t think of themselves as a salesperson.  And there ARE real fundamental differences between an admission counselor and a typical retail salesperson.  However, you are still buying something from someone paid by the company that sells that product.

Guidance Counselors are generally wonderful people.  They are generally highly qualified individuals, are warm, caring, “people persons” and have excellent educational credentials.  Unfortunately they are often serving a caseload that grows each year, and a clientele with increasingly diverse personal, social and educational needs.  College counseling has become a smaller piece of their daily puzzle at the same point int time that it has become a more common, more nuanced, more complicated part of the typical high school student’s life.

Me?  My Board of Trustees, my Cabinet, my supervisors are…YOU.  Oh, I would love to make money from ads on this site and on my YouTube channel, and makes oodles of money speaking as conferences and workshops.  But my primary clients (and my only ones right now) are the families and adult students that I serve.  And I think that’s pretty cool – for both of us.

So, after all of that, what would be my “elevator speech”? How would I tell someone, in the time it takes to go up to the fourth floor, what I do for a living?

I am a College Counselor.  I provide information and insight to students and families as to how the college admission and financial aid process works and how to best navigate your college search.  I save you time, money and sanity.

How’s that?

As always, I welcome your comments and questions.  Please feel free to email me at info@cc4therestofus.com, call or text me at 908-403-3819, join me on Facebook on “College Counseling for the Rest of Usand join me on Twitter at @MichaelCCR.

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