Beware of Admissions CON-sultants Hiding in Your Midst

See, Speak, Hear no evil monkeys

Amidst the rise of the academic meritocracy, as increasing numbers of students qualify for then apply to college, selectivity for admissions annually increases, yet high school counseling staff has been inadequate for the demand, thus many families seek the help of private admissions consultants. But, in the Era of Educational Experts, when qualifications and motivations to help families range widely, families need discernment to choose the “right” consultant for their needs.  

Parents and students must first determine why they seek advising; typically, one of three broad reasons (not ranked in a particular order):

  1. Are families seeking to further unlock a student’s aptitude, aligning colleges to their student’s needs, and instead of chasing an acceptance letter, seek to invest wisely in higher education? 

OR

  1. Do they view the admissions process as a competition, so seek strategic advantage over their peers for the most selective acceptance available?

OR

  1. Does the modern online college admissions process seem like a treasure hunt, for which they have no map, just a belief in riches where X marks the spot, and don’t have time to Google every nuance to draw their own map? 

For a select group of families, understanding that education is a process of becoming, the modern hero’s journey, if you will, where a young person discovers and then unleashes their genius, seek a “Mentor/Tutor” in the Aristotelian style of a private tutor, who in the modern day is an educator in private practice. Thus, parents have peace of mind their child is in the tutelage of a trusted advisor, as well as students gain space to discover their ability, more likely making a valuable investment in higher education. 

Yet for those families who seek an edge in the “Hunger Games” of college admissions, a “University Insider Turned Private Advisor” may be a likely choice, believing that networks and insight borne in boardrooms are most advantageous. Such families often prize an acceptance letter as a validation of their child’s achievements, believing a lasting prosperity will simply materialize with a renowned credential

Finally, for families who seek a project manager for the mystifying college application process, a “More Than Random Googling” college admissions company, typically helmed by business people, not educators, may help families focus their efforts. Families purchase access to online college databases, self-serve aptitude inventories run on algorithms, self-paced college admissions workbooks, complemented with a few broad advisory sessions. 

Regardless of the type of assistance hired, parents and students must also trust their advisors. Referrals from others in their parents’ networks are the most credible sources to initiate contact. Furthermore, families can gain confidence in a consultant’s understanding of the college admissions process as well as education on their blog, social media, or other public media

Since families seek to make a six-figure investment in a college education, they must be discriminating in their choice of advisor. Otherwise, parents may unwittingly hire a CON-sultant, not a consigliere—someone whose genius is to teach, who listens, understanding each parent’s as well as the student’s views to devise a path to realize their unique genius so humanity may benefit.


Since 2003, Creative Marbles’ educational experts have collaboratively advises families throughout the United States and globally who seek the greatest value in education for their children’s prosperity. Contact us for more details.

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About Jill Yoshikawa, Ed M, Partner of Creative Marbles Consultancy

Jill Yoshikawa, EdM, Harvard ’99, a seasoned, 25 year educator and consultant, is meticulous in helping clients navigate all aspects of the educational experience, no matter the level of complexity. She combines educational theory with experience to advise families, schools and educators. A UCSD and Harvard graduate, as well as a former high school teacher, Jill works tirelessly to help her clients succeed.
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