College Counselors Coddle Students

Tamar McCollom

With college admissions becoming increasingly more competitive, it is no surprise that students are searching desperately for a leg up on the competition. The latest place that students have turned to for help is the college counselor.

College counselors do everything from helping to establish a list of potential colleges, to organizing alumni interviews, to editing essays. Considering how challenging and time-consuming the college admissions process is, the concept of outsourcing some of the busy work and getting additional assistance is no doubt appealing.

However, don’t be mistaken.  College counselors are a luxury, not a necessity. Nothing that a college admissions counselor does is beyond the capabilities of your average high school student.

Anyone can go to Barnes & Noble to pick up the Princeton Review’s Best 373 Colleges or the Fiske Guide to Colleges, and the application process, while complex, is not some labyrinth of doom
that can only be tackled with a professional guide.

Like many of her peers, senior Annie O’Shea worked with a college counselor on her essays. “I felt that it really took away from my own voice. She put in words that I never use, and it’s not like they were wrong, but it just didn’t sound like me,” said O’ Shea. “I wish that I had gone to one of my English teachers because they have more experience with the way I write, and they know how I sound.”

There are always special circumstances, and there is no right answer for everyone. For instance, Junior Jessica Goldstein is interested in playing golf collegiately, and therefore has been using popular college admissions counselor Joanne Levy-Prewitt to help her navigate the complicated world of Division I college athletics.

“Coaches can be very deceiving, so it is nice to have someone help you through interviews and the entire recruiting process,” said Goldstein.

For most of us, however, college counselors serve virtually no purpose, other than to create yet another unnecessary cause to throw our money at. They continue to perpetuate a hyper-competitive, anxiety-ridden atmosphere where it is perfectly normal and acceptable for rising juniors to have paid “experts” holding their hands through a process they are a year away from beginning.

Yes, it is good to be prepared, and one shouldn’t go into senior year completely bewildered. That is why Miramonte employs not only a school counselor, but also a  college and career counselor. We have so many resources available to us that should be explored before forking over roughly $100 an hour.

The bottom line is simple. College counselors can add convenience to one of the most complicated and stressful times in our lives, but don’t expect them to be the golden ticket. They can’t sell what doesn’t exist already. In the end, it will always come down to you and you alone.