Good question. You might not need an independent counselor. Your high school counselor has known you for years, knows the colleges and the admissions representatives well, and knows the process you’re about to begin. What more could you ask for? What more do you need?
Maybe you’ve had some random thoughts about college. Both an independent counselor and your school counselor can help you sort through the overwhelming amount of material and information. Your school counselor will write the Secondary School Report required by the colleges and will be the one who will be contacted by the colleges if more information is necessary. He/she is already working hard for you, but given the number of students and their additional responsibilities, his/her time may be somewhat limited.
An independent counselor serves as an adjunct to your school counselor. An independent counselor will provide advice related to your essays and resume and will keep you on target with your deadlines.
Many students have worked hard in high school, paid attention to testing, listened to older students when colleges were discussed and have visited colleges even before their junior year. They have taken courses that challenge them, gotten to know their guidance counselors and built strong relationships with teachers who might write recommendations for them. Other students haven’t even thought about college. If you are a student who needs additional support, needs a push to get moving or if you haven’t a clue what the process is about, you might consider hiring someone to steer you through it.
If you have recently moved and are afraid no one at your present school knows you well enough, you might think about an independent counselor. If you are one of those kids who cannot, no matter what, keep things together, you might need someone to keep you on track. Anxious parents, not knowledgeable about the process or the schools, might also be interested in an independent counselor.
Examine your reasons. You will know whether the decision to hire an independent counselor is the right one for you.