College Counselors: An Exclusive Ticket to Success?

Updated: Mar 31

For parents and students alike, the college admissions process has always been a source of struggle. Pressure to have perfect SAT scores, inspiring essays, and endless honors societies displayed on applications weighs on students. It seems nearly impossible to have the perfect application, all while managing a normal teenage social-life and demands of regular school work. But some students have an extra helping hand in the process. With college counselors and other paid professionals, students have an expert’s voice to guide them to the school of their dreams.

A college counselor is defined as an advisor that works closely with a student and family to help them through the college admission process. They help build lists of potential colleges, research academic needs to get into those colleges, recommend extracurriculars and classes, assist with paperwork and edit essays. Essentially, college counselors help students get into college.

At B-CC, many seniors have worked with college counselors since this past summer or even during sophomore year. One senior notes that some of the most helpful advice she received from her college counselor was the specialized tips regarding her supplemental essays. With a professional’s help, she got to understand “what each [supplemental] entailed in order to appeal to schools directly.” When asked how her application process would have gone without a college counselor, she believes her “experience would have been significantly more stressful and would have taken much more time to complete.”

Even though it seems like this is a perfect resource, it is not available to all. College counselors are often very expensive. Because of this, some students seek professional help with specific aspects of their applications instead of one counselor for the entirety of it. This may include SAT tutors, essay editors, or one-time meetings with college counselors/other advisors. However, these advisors are still expensive, so many students are not able to get professional help on their application at all. In a school as wealthy as B-CC, many students do have the means to employ college counselors and get those extra on-on-one advantages that come with this service.

After surveying one English class from each level of the 12th grade class, it was determined that 30-35% of the seniors sampled at B-CC have a longterm college counselor outside those provided by MCPS. In a smaller sample of Blake High School students, only 4% of the seniors sampled had college counselors. Additionally, approximately 45% of the B-CC students received other professional help, and about 11% of the sampled Blake seniors did. Although it is not new information that there are disparities of wealth throughout MCPS, this is a clear indication of the disparities of opportunity and ad- vantage distribution.

When asking B-CC seniors without college counselors about their opin- ions on fairness in the college process, they often have mixed feelings. “Obvi- ously not everyone can have access to a college counselor because of financial reasons and it can’t be denied that they can make the application process a lot easier. They basically walk you through it,” says a senior. This student men- tions he got professional help with his SAT studying and explains how he uti- lized the resources at B-CC. “It’s defi- nitely possible to get help through the counselors at B-CC and get an extra pair of eyes on your applications with- out having to pay a fortune, but the process would undeniably be easier to manage with a one-on-one counselor, that’s obvious.”

The support that B-CC provides through the College and Career Cen- ter cannot go unnoticed. Counselors like Ms. Heald and Ms. Bonner are al- ways available to answer questions and guide students through the process and to other helpful resources. But as a student remarks, it is obvious that the paid services that long-term college counselors can provide is more specialized throughout the entirety of the process. Unfortunately, the college admissions process will most likely never be an even-playing field.