Should We Hire a Private College Counselor?

Question: Our friends have hired an independent college counselor to help their son maximize his Ivy League admission chances. My own son (a junior with a B/B- average) has a college list that is far more modest, but the guidance counselor at his high school is new and doesn’t seem very well informed. We are new to this process ourselves. Are we short-changing our son by not engaging a private counselor for him, too, or is that money better spent for those aiming at the very selective universities?

When it comes to life’s to-do lists, we all have different comfort zones. The same folks who trudge through their income taxes every April without the aid of an accountant might never tackle a tire change ... even in their own driveway. Likewise, some families can easily navigate the college admissions maze with only the help of Web sites like College Confidential or a short stack of guidebooks, while others prefer to have a seasoned pro at the helm.

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