College advisers give privileged advantage in college process

Every fall, millions of high school seniors across the country rush to complete the stressful and rigorous process of college applications. However, according to The Chronicle, in the past few years, colleges have seen a record number of applications, and their acceptance rates have plummeted as a result.

To combat this issue, families have turned to college advisers to increase their student’s likelihood of getting accepted into their dream college. For some, a college adviser is an easy and valuable investment to their future. According to Empowerly, students who use college advising are 11 times more likely to get into their dream school—a great statistic for those who can afford to pay for the product. But for lower-income students, it’s yet another way they are at a disadvantage.

According to the National Society of High School Scholars, colleges consider five main factors when assessing a student: grades, standardized test scores, extracurricular activities, essays and demonstrated interest. Before college advisers became popularized, standardized test scores, such as the ACT and SAT, were the only place a tutor could help students gain a significant advantage over peers. However, after policy changes due to COVID-19, many colleges have adapted the practice of becoming “test-optional” to combat students using a tutor to give them an edge on standardized tests.

Now college advisers are providing a significant advantage in not only standardized test scores, but essays, extracurriculars, grades and demonstrated interest, too.

College essays, like the Common Application’s Personal Essay and select colleges’ supplemental essays, is the place where colleges learn who a student is beyond grades and scores. While in theory, essays are a place in a student’s application where they have no advantage over another student, college advisers can play an essential role in creating a better essay. For example, a college adviser may know what trigger words and essay topics certain schools are looking for, thus giving those students a better chance of standing out to an admissions officer.

Not only can a college adviser help students craft the perfect essay, but they can inform students about what college classes various schools want to see and help craft the optimal high school schedule for admittance into them. When selecting which classes to take freshman year, many students are not focused on what classes a certain college may want to see, but instead focused on what classes they want to take. For example, when underclassmen at the high school select their course schedules, little to no thought goes into what classes a potential college may want to see on their transcript in two years. However, those with college advisers, many of whom were former admissions officers, may be advised to take certain STEM or elective classes that they know a college wants to see.

As colleges across the country try to diversify their student bodies and reform the college admissions process, college advisers are giving wealthy students a helping hand in once again.