First, here are some reasons why hiring a college essay coach might be a good idea:
1. Your student’s counselor is too busy.
According to the US Dept of Education, the average student-to-counselor ratio is 471 to 1. (Source.) In California it’s 1,016 to 1. I have many high school counselor friends who do amazing work, so this is by no means a knock on them. But often they’re so overwhelmed with all their other responsibilities and the sheer number of students they have that they don’t have time to sit with each individual student to craft a well-written personal statement.
2. As a parent, you don’t feel you have the knowledge or time to help them yourself.
An excellent counselor knows 100 schools really well, knows 100 ways to brainstorm an essay, understands which traps to avoid, and know how to help a student breathe life into a dull essay. And applying to college can be a time-consuming process: hours can turn into days and weeks and without the right resources, the process can become all-consuming and before you know it it’s the only thing that you and your child are talking about.
Side note: One way to avoid this is to set clear boundaries around when you will and won’t talk about college. Example: Mondays 6-8pm is our weekly college app meeting. But we agree that we won’t talk about college apps at dinner. (See? Boundaries.)
3. You’re worried that if you try to help your child yourself, the process will strain your relationship.
It can happen. You so badly want your child to be happy and have a good job and to you, sitting in front of the TV or playing video games isn’t going to lead to happiness or success in life and you kinda’ want to say (or you do say), “Get off the couch and start writing your essay!” Then you think to yourself, “It’d be so much easier to hire someone else to do this.”
Here are some reasons why hiring a college essay coach might not be a good idea:
1. It’s too expensive.
It can be. Some counselors charge up to $40,000 to work with students, or $14,000 for a five-day workshop. Think I’m kidding? Check it out. (Yeah, it’s nuts.)
2. You’re worried hiring someone else will take away valuable time that you could be spending with your child.
Totally. And working with your child through the college process can be an amazing learning and growth experience for you both. If you’re considering working together, here are some tips for how to do that and here’s a book that’ll help (oh, and just may change the way you think about parenting).
3. Your student has already written an international best-seller.
But even still, the best writers need editors.
Okay, I admit it, this whole “anti” argument is falling apart. I can’t even think of another reason why, if you can afford it, you wouldn’t want to work with an essay coach.
And here’s a quick word about not being able to afford it:
Some counselors are very affordable and most counselors, although they don’t advertise it, will work on a sliding scale. All you have to do is ask. (You’ll be amazed how many people don’t ask.)
And some counselors, like me, actually do advertise that they work on a sliding scale. So just ask.