What is an Independent College Counselor?

Maybe you’ve heard of them, and maybe you haven’t. Sometimes referred to as Independent Educational Consultants, these counselors are frequently self-employed, or otherwise, work for consulting businesses. Independent College Counselors work to help students and their families navigate the college search and application process.

Who do they work with?

Counselors typically work with families that are looking for a more comprehensive approach to finding and applying to colleges. High school counselors are often wonderful resources. But, it may be harder for them to focus as much time on individual students. They have other demands their jobs require and a large number of students they may work with.

Independent counselors spend many hours working with the student who is applying and their family in order to get to know them better and figure out what kind of colleges would best fit the student. They can also help students consider colleges they may not have originally included in their application pool. Finding schools that are the best for the student is what is most important to these counselors. They are not in the profession to push students off to colleges and gain money in the process; they truly want to help these students succeed in college.

How do they help?

Counselors can help students with specific portions of the applications, including proofreading essays and practicing interviews. The student needs to be prepared and ready to talk about why they are qualified for a specific school. Counselors can assist students in making pro and con lists before picking colleges to apply to, and during the process as well. They might be able to connect the student with previous clients who have gone to schools that the student is interested in.

Independent counselors do not work for colleges or universities. They do not push students to go to certain schools regardless of what is best for the student. The student and their family are paying for the counselor. The counselor will work with them to find the best options for the student.


Extracurricular participation may or may not be important to the student. If the student has had their foot in every corner of clubs and athletics, the counselor might talk about how they can use those to their advantage when applying to different schools. If the student has minimal experience with these activities, the counselor will likely encourage them to get involved in some area. Student government, athletics, band, and choir are all good starting points for students.

While independent and high school counselors are both great resources for applying to college, don’t think that it is necessary to be a junior or senior in high school to start this process. Planning ahead will only help you out in the end, and we have great tips for freshmen and sophomores to consider in order to get a step ahead in this process.

Get started now! Check out the relevant articles we linked above, and use our college match tool to see what schools might be a great fit for you. If you want an in-depth search process, consider utilizing an independent college counselor in your area.