College admissions is a complex and rapidly changing field. Be wary of anyone who says that because they helped their own kids they are now qualified to help others. While homeschooling experience is vital, quality consultants will have pursued advanced training in their field and are involved in ongoing professional development.
A consultant should lower your stress rather than increase it
Avoid consultants who use scare tactics or tell you they are the only one who can help you through this process. The reality is that there are thousands of colleges in the United States and there are places for students of all abilities and interests. You should feel comfortable and supported when interacting with your consultant. You should not feel pressured to measure up to a standard of perfection or feel like your homeschooling is being judged. There are many ways to homeschool and many ways for homeschoolers to successful navigate through the college admissions process.
A consultant should be a homeschool specialist
High school planning and college admissions are different for homeschoolers in many respects. Simply following the same strategies that work for traditionally schooled students may leave your homeschooler at a disadvantage. Look for a consultant who really understands how homeschoolers are different and can help your student present their “best self” through their applications. You want to hire someone who understands as a homeschool parent you will always be the guidance counselor. A good consultant doesn’t take this role away from you, but instead helps you with the support you with information and resources.
A consultant should operate within strict ethical guidelines
Be wary of anyone who promises admissions or acts like they have a special “in” with a particular college. Avoid consultants who imply they will make sure your student gets a scholarship – that is not within a consultant’s power. Ethical consultants do not complete applications or write essays for students. Consultants may provide proofreading or editing help, but are always mindful to make sure the essay belongs to the student and is his or her work product. Look for a consultant who is a member of a respected professional organization and has made a commitment to operate within their ethical guidelines.