information is an excerpt from NACAC's "What Parents and Students Should Know About Independent Counselors, Educational
Consultants, and Commercial Counseling Centers."
Families searching for
external counseling services should ask the following types of questions before enlisting the services of an independent or
commercial counseling service.
• Do you have counseling experience, certification, a credential or a master’s degree in counseling or
a counseling related discipline?
• How long have you been an independent counselor?
Do you have experience in a high school counseling office or as a college admission officer?
• How long
has this counseling center been functioning?
• How long have your counselors been active in
the field, and in what roles?
• How recently did you work on a high school or college campus?
Are you familiar with the academic program in my high school?
• Do you visit college campuses regularly—locally,
regionally, and/or nationally?
• Have you attended professionally directed conferences, college counseling
institutes or workshops?
• What national and/or regional professional organizations do you belong
to as a college counselor?
Independent counselors/counseling centers should:
• Insist that students be the sole author of
their college applications and essays
• Help students understand that no one can guarantee admission
to any college or have influence on admission decisions reached by institutions
Encourage students to consider a range of institutions for admission, not just emphasizing admission to highly
selective or prestigious universities
• Educate students about scare tactics used in some marketing campaigns
Independent counselors or commercial counseling centers should not purport to replace the role or function of school-
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