Should I Hire a Private College Counselor?

Question: If I plan to apply to prestigious schools, is hiring a counselor a good idea? All my friends have these special counselors but my dad doesn't want to pay for it. (It's in the thousands) He thinks I can get in without one. Can private counselors significantly increase my chance of acceptance? Or would it just be a waste of money? I appreciate your insight.

In addition to writing the "Ask the Dean" column, I also work as a private counselor, so you have to consider the source as you read my response. :-)

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