My parents have been thinking about this for the longest time and I'm debating on whether or not I should get a college advisor. For anyone with experience, are they worth it? How much do they actually help, and what's the best year to get it (junior or senior)? I would really appreciate some pros and cons too. Thanks!
I think answering this would be nearly impossible for anyone on here because we don't know your age/grade/demographics, what colleges you are interested in applying to and what your basic stats are like UWGPA, #APs, Test Scores, ECs, Spikes and Talents.
Most successful admits who use college counselors hire them in 9th and 10th grade because they have the most opportunity to guide, mold, affect change in an applicants narrative if given enough runway. Lets be honest by 11th/12th grade you can't really change anyone's narrative that much. If you start in 12th, there is like 2 months before Early applications are due and 4 months for RD. So if you have a gaping hole in your language or math narrative, well it's too late. If you are missing key leadership positions, it's too late. And if you have a poor set of ECs, it's too late.
If you just start in 11th, then you only have an extra year to change everything that needs fixing on your academics (course rigor, test scores, #APs, intellectual vitality/curiosity), ECs (leadership positions, community service/volunteerism, sports, talents, Spikes), the quality of your essays and optional portfolios (art, music, dance, acting etc). That's not a lot of time. Maybe you can fix 1/2 of the problem areas.
The 2 most important years of HS as far as college admissions officers are concerned with are 10th/11th. Why because they are the only 2 years that are full years and they are back to back. So some schools like Stanford, throw out your 9th grade marks and don't even factor them into your Stanford GPA. 12th grade is like a mess. Why? Because most college admissions officers know you are trying to scramble to get your essays done, select schools, take the final SAT or ACT, hone your ECs and grades so they end on an uptrend, and doing all the senior year activities like homecoming, prom, dances, etc.
Historically, in the UK, Europe, Canada and US, going back 250-500 years super powerful, successful families sent their children off to boarding schools or at least top privates in big cities. They wanted to make sure they have 3-4 years of solid structure in place to ensure the transition from HS to top Universities without a hitch. So the symbiotic relationship between say an Eton/Harrow and Oxford/Cambridge that began between 1400 and 1572 still remains intact today just like the HADES (Hotchkiss, Andover, Deerfield, Exeter, St.Pauls) feeder boarding schools (1891,1778, 1797,1781,1856) ensure certain outcomes into Ivies, Elites and top liberal arts colleges. College counselors can help sharpen a applicants narrative but they never will be a replacement for going to the source and being part of the system on the inside versus the outside. Is this fair? No. But until Americans demand better public education and it becomes a priority, all the rest of the students who have no choice but to attend the 24,000 public high schools will find it harder and harder to get into the Ivory Towers of academia.
If you want to share some more about yourself, I think myself and others would be able to rely some advice to you and your parents.
In my opinion, college advisors are only helpful if you are targeting super elite schools or have will have glaring deficiencies in your application. If you just want to pick a college and major then there are tons of free resources online, and if you aren't planning on a super elite or competitive college then free resources you can find online will probably be helpful enough in revising your application. I think that college advisors really help in strategizing applications and helping fix any weak spots that might show as you put together an application, so if you need help with that then they'd be beneficial. Also, the best time to get one would be junior year because then they have time to help you pick classes and recommend clubs or other extracurriculars to boost your resume, and it would give time to get to know you and help you prepare for applications over the summer before senior year.
To keep this community safe and supportive: