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Do You Need a Consultant for Adult Education?

Apr 11, 2012 Jennifer Williamson, Distance Education.org Columnist | 1 Comments

If you’ve been out of school for a considerable amount of time, it’s not easy going back. Often as an adult student, you’re forced to handle full-time school in conjunction with full-time work and family demands—with no or very little support. And if you think navigating the college admissions process is difficult for recent high school graduates, try doing it when you’ve been out of school for decades and have recent high school graduates of your own.

However, the population of adults returning to school is growing—and becoming more and more important to admissions advisors. And as adults return to school, more are using admissions consultants—a group of professionals who usually work primarily with traditional students and their families—to get an edge in the admissions process.

Should you hire a consultant? Here are a few things to consider when making the decision.

Do you have the disposable income?

COnsultant

Getting into college isn’t easy at any stage of life, but non-traditional prospective students often face special challenges.

 

Consulting can be expensive. Depending on the company you hire, your consultant may work with you for weeks or months to refine your essay and all aspects of your application. This can cost anywhere from several hundred to several thousand dollars.

Do you have little room for error?

For adult students, online degree programs is often a means to an end—and as an adult student with a full-time job and a promotion or job transition waiting on that degree, you may not be able to afford to try over and over to gain admission to the degree program you need. If you have a very small window of time to get into school—or are limited by very specific needs only filled by one or two colleges—an admissions counselor can help you make sure you get it right the first time.

Has it been a long time since you’ve been in school?

Admissions can be more difficult for adults who have been away from school—and far from an academic mindset—for a  long period of time. Admissions counselors can help you understand how admissions officers and colleges think and what they’re looking for in applications.

Is your school competitive?

If your school has a fairly high admissions rate, you probably don’t need an admissions consultant. But if you’re planning to attend a school that accepts only a very limited percentage of applicants every year, bear in mind that your competitors are probably hiring consultants—and it can help you to hire one if you want to compete successfully.

Is the admissions process overwhelming?

If you find yourself overwhelmed by the admissions process and without the time to learn it—due to job and life demands—a consultant may be able to help you develop a game plan. At some companies, you may be able to hire consultants on a short-term basis for only a few counseling sessions, if you’re confident you’ll be able to handle the process once you sit down with someone and develop a plan.

Getting into college isn’t easy at any stage of life, but non-traditional prospective students often face special challenges. Do some research into consulting firms before choosing—and go with one that offers the right combination of services, expertise, experience, and pricing that works for you. If needed, check with friends who have children entering college—some people you know may be able to give good recommendations. In addition, ask if the consulting company has ever worked with adult students before, as returning adults often face very different challenges than traditional students do when it comes to college admissions.

Comments:

Sarah Spath Over a year ago

A consultant can also draw your attention to things that will affect that your educational experience that may not otherwise occur to you. For example, let's say that you have to take math courses, and it has been 10 or 20 years since you have taken any math. You may want to ask about the learning support and tutoring services offered by a prospective college. Can you get tutoring online? Does the learning center offer services at times that mesh with your work schedule?

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