Most high schools have at least one on-site college counselor to advise students on finding and applying to colleges. As the point person for your applications, college counselors keep you on top of deadlines and graduation requirements and ultimately send your official transcript to colleges. They can also help you find schools that fit you, identify dream/match/safety schools, complete your FAFSA, craft strong school-specific application essays, and help manage anxiety and stress.
Depending on how much one-on-one time they get with their schools’ college counselors, some families decide to hire independent college counselors to guide them through the admissions process. I always tell parents who are thinking about hiring an independent college counselor to make sure that person is a member of a professional organization, like IECA or NACAC. Why? Because not all IEC’s are created equal. For example, IECA members have met the highest standards of the profession. IECA’s required qualifications include a master’s degree; at least three years of admissions counseling experience; and experience working with scores of students. IECA also requires extensive member undertake campus visits—members, on average, have visited over 150 campuses each—and continue to visit an average of 35 campuses annually.
Whichever route you go, check out this Princeton Review article that outlines five (accurate) reasons you need your college counselor. You can also read more about IECs from IECA here, or from me directly during a consultation!