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❶A few small alterations to the FAFSA financial aid application could have big implications for college-bound students beginning next October. This season, yet another of my students couldn't explain to me what different sections of her story meant because her tutor, a screenwriter, had added examples into her essay that were unfamiliar to her.

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What are your child's needs, strengths and hopes? Does your child have an idea where he or she would be comfortable in higher education and what learning environment will be best?

It may even be -- surprise -- you, the parent or a family member. Professional guidance neither guarantees success nor is always warranted. In this case, pick a consultant with organizational affiliations, accreditation, good recommendations and clear explanations of their services and associated costs. Their assistance in application writing remains confined to stylistic, organizational suggestions, never to writing anything for the student.

Most importantly, they encourage your child to write in his or her own voice -- not according to some imaginary formula for acceptance. A number of highly critical articles, studies and books have responded to the private admissions consultant industry. One article even decries a " New Snake-Oil Industry ," which it claims is "increasingly propelled by greed, it preys on the fear of families, especially parents.

It's the private, for-profit college admissions consulting industry. He also doubts the self-marketing approach of one admissions consultant, especially for his shy child. Rynearson , president of Higher Education Consultants Association, takes on some popular perceptions of her profession:. While a few outliers may employ such tactics, the vast majority work hard to alleviate stress by providing accurate information and guidance. Working with some students as early as 10th grade, consultants, like those at IvyWise, help students build their portfolios and identities in the "soft factors" like interests and activities, in efforts to aid the admissions process.

Parents I've spoken with have differing views on the necessity of a private admissions consultant. After much research on the web and discussion with his son, he narrowed down the Division II schools with track programs for a mathematically inclined, artistic student, who wants to avoid urban schools and stay on the west coast.

He and his son are in the process of applying to 11 selected institutions of higher education. What about the application essays? More specifically, what about the "coherent message" and "packaging" that consultants offer?

He says he's found enough examples and advice on the web to get a draft going and has asked family members and friends with writing backgrounds to check the style and organization.

Consultants are unnecessary luxuries. In contrast, another parent was thrilled at having hired a college consultant to help her daughter apply for college. Alla Gershberg, a San Francisco real estate agent, put it this way to me. It's incredibly complicated to know the market, the product involved and how to position oneself as a buyer.

People can do it themselves, but they are often much safer and more successful with the help of a professional. Can every student and parent gain such a peace of mind? Clearly, shedding light on the admissions process helps students and their families. But what can you do if you can't afford a consultant? There are many helpful websites to check out. Here are a few to start.

Tap here to turn on desktop notifications to get the news sent straight to you. ACT prep on the go: The app also clearly tracks student progress in easy-to-understand charts and provides adaptive feedback on all four sections of the test.

Professional feedback on applications: Me This site offers professional editing of applications by experts who know the college application process intimately. They provide insight on the application process and applicant goals of individual universities. Assistance with the management of college applications includes all dates, deadlines, recommendations and interviews.

It sounds amazing, but it all comes at a price. Scholly We always hear that hundreds of college scholarships go unclaimed each year. This Web and app platform little trivia: Using eight parameters, the app delivers each student a targeted list of appropriate scholarships along with their links and deadlines.

Students can enter all of their application information and the Application Manager generates personalized to-do lists for each school to which students are applying. It also provides alerts of school-specific requirements like optional SAT subject tests and supplement essays. Free version includes the Task Manager function. Do you have a college application resource to recommend?

A Step-by-Step Guide to Filling Out a US College Application.

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The college application process encompasses your entire high school career. You've crafted the perfect transcript, Our College Counselors will help you find, apply and get accepted to your dream school. Learn More. Related Articles. Popular College Application Essay Topics (and How to Answer Them). To apply to college, keep in mind that you need to start early in high school and do your research to find the right fit. The tips in these articles will help you tackle the application essay.

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Informing students of solid college-resource tools can help demystify applications. Here are seven websites and apps we recommend toward that goal. Need college application help? Work with your very own advisor and receive the guidance you need to succeed in admissions.