By Tam Warner Minton, <a href="http://www.collegeadventures.net/" target="_blank">College Adventures</a>There are many reasons families use college consultants, but I believe the most important one is finding a college that truly fits the individual student. The college admission process has become so challenging, confusing and competitive that most parents don’t even recognize it! It is certainly not the experience we had fifteen or twenty years ago. As a sociology professor I always explained to my students that it is the unusual and sensational that makes the six o’clock news. In true form, we usually hear about the college consultant who charges tens of thousands of dollars to “package” a student for the Ivy League. This type of consultant is certainly NOT the norm. There are a handful of such consultants, and they generally give all of us a bad name. Most news articles and stories are about the “packaging” type consultant. It makes a more sensational story than the truth: most educational consultants are very interested in each and every student, and truly seek to find the right fit school. We volunteer our time with students who cannot afford our services, and hours researching and visiting colleges and campuses and curriculums and programs. The value of a college consultant lies in their knowledge in recommending colleges and programs that “fit” the individual student as well as their ability to motivate students (and work with parents). Students who matriculate to schools that are a “fit” generally stay at that college and graduate in 4-5 years. Students who choose colleges for the wrong reason are at risk for dropping out, transferring (which puts off graduation), and having a poorer college experience. Graduation and intellectual growth are certainly goals of a great education! Another reason to use a consultant is to give the student the chance to take charge of the process. By the time a student is a senior in high school they are truly seeking some independence from mom and/or dad. Silly arguments erupt between parent and teen and these are mostly “turf” or “breaking away” issues that seem to come up more and more frequently as our children get older. It is always best to guide the student in college research, writing essays, filling out applications, and considering majors, and sometimes an objective counselor can be most effective. Mom and dad need to be involved, but a student who drives the college application and search will mature in the process and be more enthusiastic about their education. The feeling of accomplishment, responsibility and independence benefits both the student and the parent(s). It has always been my goal to teach each student how to take responsibility and how to make good decisions. Going to college is a life enhancing experience, but first one must choose wisely!