Clarifying College Admissions

Omar Siddiqui '25, Web Editor

As a college convention concludes, the Ivy League table is left vacant as a representative helps deconstruct on Mar. 2. (Omar Siddiqui ’25)

As South students enter their junior year, a daunting task lies on the path ahead of them. The college admissions process can be nothing short of a horrifying time for some students as they venture their way into the next phase of their schooling.

Luckily, counselors are available to hire that help guide students through the difficult journey known as college admissions. However, the prices that college counselors charge for their service can be more than many students would like to pay. This begs the question, is hiring a college counselor worth it?

The admissions process has many key parts. Organizing extracurricular activities, course selection, writing your college essays, and many more. College admissions counselor, Shannan McCarron, describes her job as providing the scaffolding that students can build on to find their best college match.

“I can provide clarity in the [college admissions] process,” McCarron said. “I can help students highlight their strengths and limitations in a way that presents them in the best light during the application process.”

McCarron also stresses how there is not one specific type of student that needs a college admissions counselor. Rather, students should decide whether hiring a counselor is in their best interest regarding confidence in their abilities, grades, and the colleges they would like to attend.

McCarron explains how a college counselor is not a replacement for high school counselors, perhaps more advantageously, high school and college counselors should be used in conjunction.

“I don’t think the need for hiring a counselor is specifically for one kind of student over another.” McCarron said. “It’s really more about your individual wants and needs.”

The students that McCarron works with are encouraged to look deep within themselves to find their strengths, weaknesses, and what they can improve on. Addison O’Keefe ’24 has been working with McCarron and considered it to be an eye-opening experience.

“[McCarron] gave a good perspective about looking at everything as a whole,” O’Keefe said. “Not just course selection and grades, she also brought in volunteering and extracurricular activities.”

When using a college counselor, as stated previously, it is important that you use their talents in combination with the help of your personal high school counselor. One of South’s counselors’, Beth Walsh-Sahutske. described how she finds that some students who use college counselors fail to communicate their progress back to her.

“[The students] are really doing themselves a disservice because we’re the ones that are writing their letters of recommendation,” Walsh-Sahutske said. “When you get high school counselors who are struggling to get a student to even come in and meet and talk with them about some of the activities they’ve been involved in they’re only hurting themselves.”

High school counselors such as Walsh-Sahutske emphasized the importance of making sure that if you do hire a college counselor, you make sure that who you hire is worth the money. The Independent Educational Consultant Association (IECA) is considered the gold standard for college counselors.

“I think that it is really important that the counselor you hire has gone through that IECA training like Ms. McCarron,” Walsh-Sahutske said. “It requires a lot more than just hanging a sign and calling yourself a college counselor and that’s really something that people have to be concerned about.”