Frequently asked questions
Does VCC guarantee admission to a college or university?
No. It is both unethical and unrealistic to make such a guarantee. If you are researching independent college counselors and they make this claim, you can be assured of two things:
1. They are breaking several professional ethical codes/principles.
2. If they can make that guarantee, which is doubtful, it likely means that they are engaging in unethical and possibly illegal business practices behind the scenes.
What we can guarantee is that we will give 100% of our efforts to every student, in order to help them discover and achieve their goals. We also ensure that students apply to a balanced list of schools, all of which are a good fit for the individual.
Is VCC a member of any professional organizations?
Our college counselors are current members of the following organizations:
-Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA, both professional and associate membership)
-College Consultants of Colorado (CCC)
-Rocky Mountain Association of College Admissions Counseling
Our college counselors have been members of the following organizations:
-Texas Association for College Admissions Counseling (TACAC)
-Southern Association for College Admissions Counseling (SACAC)
-International Association for College Admissions Counseling (InternationalACAC)
Does VCC write essays or complete applications for students?
No. We are here to guide and advocate for students on their journey of personal growth and transformation. Not only is completing student essays and applications unethical, but it also hijacks the student's opportunity for positive growth throughout the process. Lastly, if admission professionals discover that a student used that sort of service, they will almost certainly deny the student or retract their acceptance decision.
Which professional and ethical guidelines does VCC adhere to?
Virtual College Counselors takes ethical and professional guidelines extremely seriously. We work with all of our students and families in accordance with the following industry standards:
Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA) - Principles of Good Practice
National Association for College Admissions Counseling (NACAC) - Code of Ethics
Higher Education Consultants Association (HECA) - Standards and Ethics
Does VCC give or receive any compensation to/from schools in the admission process?
No. This violates several professional guidelines, principles, and ethical standards. Colleges and universities may provide us with college swag or invite us to campus visits, but these opportunities are strictly for informational purposes and not intended to sway any college admission or counseling professionals.
Does VCC give or receive any additional compensation to/from students or families?
No. This violates several professional guidelines, principles, and ethical standards. When you pay us it will only be for our services. If a family or student wishes to provide a thank you gift, it should be modest and given after services have concluded. There is no expectation to receive anything from families or students aside from the payment for services.
Virtual College Counselors
Do you have any specialties in the college counseling/admissions field?
We have many notable specialties, including:
- Extensive recruitment experience within the U.S.A. for students at independent, charter, public, and home school programs.
- Several years of international recruitment experience, with expertise in admissions for international students. An added emphasis on East Asian countries: China, Japan, South Korea.
- Helping DACA and undocumented students navigate their college search, with a focus on safety, support, and affordability.
- Advocacy for First Generation, HALI (High Achieving, Low Income), and URM (Underrepresented Minority) students.
- Allyship and advocacy for LGBTQ+ students, foster youth, and other disenfranchised populations, including those making any significant personal transitions during the high school or college search process.
- Student-athletes interested in eSports programs.
- Students with 504s, IEPs, and/or diagnosed learning disabilities.
- Graduate School admissions in Psychology, Business, and Law.
- 83+ professional visits to colleges and universities.
How do you build a college list around finding a good fit?
Before we can talk about finding a good fit, we usually have to start with the definition of a good fit. There are many definitions of "fit", but we have two main criteria:
1. The school provides an environment that supports a student's academic, professional, and personal goals.
2. The school provides an environment where students feel happy, supported, and have a meaningful educational experience.
Keeping that definition in mind, our common considerations for a good fit are: Field of Study, Academic Profile, Size, Location, Campus Culture, Finances, and a Student's Affinity (i.e. your gut).
Do you help with financial aid and scholarships?
Yes! We have extensive knowledge of external scholarships that focus on academic interests, location, background, institutional type, etc. We do not apply for the student, but we are more than happy to show them the path and help make their scholarship applications as strong as possible. We also help students understand institutional financial aid processes in regards to merit and need-based aid.
How do you schedule and communicate with families?
One of the many benefits of working with a virtual/remote independent college counselor is the flexibility offered to families and students. We work around your schedule to make sure that we are meeting on a consistent basis to ensure the college search and application process runs smoothly for every student. Most communication occurs via text, phone, email, or video conferencing software (e.g. Zoom). During our first meeting, we work together to establish a timeline/schedule that works for both parties.
How do you keep current with higher education trends and developments?
When looking for an independent college counselor, it is incredibly important for them to keep current with the developing trends and changing policies in higher education. We subscribe to several leading information sources (Chronicle of Higher Education, Inside Higher Ed., etc.) and closely monitor information from industry organizations (NACAC, IECA, HECA, etc.). Before COVID, we collectively visited over 83 colleges and universities in a professional capacity. Conferences, webinars, and workshops remain a consistent form of professional development, particularly in a virtual world. Lastly, we leverage our large professional network to keep in touch with both high school counselors and college admissions officers, to understand the behind-the-scenes factors informing industry and institutional decisions.
How did you arrive at your prices?
Honesty and Transparency are two of the key pillars of Virtual College Counselors. We openly publish all of our prices, packages, and what services are included and offered.
According to the 2020 IEC Pricing survey, the average hourly cost for independent college counseling is $190. Although we charge an hourly rate of $250, we offer significant discounts on our hourly packages that put our prices below the average cost: $200/hr for 5 Hours, $150/hr for 10 Hours, and $125/hr for 20 Hours.
10-Hour, 20-Hour, and Premium package plans also include a $500 Program Fee to cover access to the powerful college search and application management software, GuidedPath, for students and parents.
When working with Hourly Packages, our free 30-minute consultation with families helps us to understand which services best fit the student's needs. The Premium Package is comprehensive, including all services and add-ons (including GuidedPath and Career Coaching).
Why hire an independent college counselor?
Students and families hire independent college counselors for a variety of reasons:
-The primary reason is that many high school counselors have overwhelming caseloads and do not have the time or bandwidth to focus on each individual's post-secondary journey. When working with an independent college counselor, their goal should be to complement, not replace, your school's counselor. While we can guide you through the process, there are many specific documents that only your high school counselor will have access to. We encourage students to utilize all available resources.
-Another prevalent reason we often hear from parents is that college admissions has changed so dramatically since they applied, that they feel ill-equipped to guide their students. Here's some statistics to illustrate how the college search has changed between the generations:
Yale: (1980s) 20% vs (2015) 5%
Northwestern University: (1980s) 40% vs (2013) 14%
UC Berkeley: (1984) 48% vs (2014) 17%
Washington University in St. Louis: (1990) 62% vs (2018) 14%
Johns Hopkins: (1990) 53% vs (2018) 11%
Ease of Applying Leading to More Competition: In 1995 only 10% of high school students applied to 7+ colleges. Now in 2016, 33% of students apply to 7+ colleges. The Common Application alone has doubled from 414,000 students using it in 2008 to 813,000 students in 2013.
(Statistics courtesy of "Where You Go Is Not Who You'll Be" by Frank Bruini & "Who Gets in and Why" by Jeffrey Selingo. You can find links to these books on our Recommended Reading page.)
-Raising a teenager can be a journey in and of itself. Hiring an independent counselor to help guide the college application process can relieve some of the stress families often experience during the final years of high school, and create more opportunity for positive family engagement. In other words, parents won't have to nag their student about deadlines, opportunities, and choices because independent college counselors serve as coaches and liaisons.
-Independent college counselors spend the majority of their time working with students, but when they aren't in face-to-face meetings or reviewing essays, they can be found in webinars, visiting schools, and interacting with college admission representatives in order to build their knowledge base and best advise their students about schools and opportunities.
-Independent college counselors who are members of professional organizations (such as the Independent Educational Consultant Association, Higher Education Consultant Association, and the National Association of College Admission Counseling) follow strict ethical guidelines to ensure best practices in working with students of all backgrounds.
-Independent college counselors provide professional, trusted, and expert guidance to ensure students feel confident that their applications and essays are the best representation of who they are. This means that students who work with independent counselors often feel more comfortable in sharing their essays and applications with parents, and are more receptive to feedback once the bulk of the work is completed.
When should I start working with an independent college counselor?
Some families will begin work with an independent counselor as early as middle school, while others might start as late as their final year of high school. There are a few benefits to starting earlier rather than later. Starting earlier allows the counselor and student to create solid long-term foundations that can be built up over several years to impress admissions officers. When using a comprehensive package, starting earlier also means you get more return on your investment over time.
It is most common for students to start working with an independent college counselor during spring of their sophomore year or fall of their junior year. The earlier a student can start, the less stressful the process becomes.
Should I choose an hourly or comprehensive package plan?
This is a decision ultimately based on the needs of the student and family.
The three primary factors involved in making this decision are their understanding of the college search process, application workload, and when they sign up to work with us. Most students who start earlier in the process appreciate the Premium/comprehensive package option, because it allows for more flexibility in how often students meet with their counselor.
Do you offer any payment plan options?
One of our goals as a business is to do everything in our power to ensure students have as many resources available as possible. This philosophy drives our creation of informative and free content on the internet through blogs, videos, social media, and infographics.
To make our services affordable for families, we are more than happy to accommodate a payment schedule to help ease the financial burden of a one-time payment. Every family is unique and comes from a wide variety of financial backgrounds, so we make our best effort to personalize each payment plan for the family. Please reach out to us if you are interested in utilizing a payment plan.
Are there any hidden fees or costs?
Do you meet with students in the evenings and on weekends?
Yes! We do our best to work around a student's schedule. In general, all we ask is that students are respectful of late night hours.
Why work with Virtual College Counselors?
When choosing independent college counselors, we're aware that there are many options. At Virtual College Counselors, we emphasize honesty, transparency, and authenticity because "fit" with a college counselor is just as important as "fit" with a college/university. We seek to help build meaningful relationships with our students to help mentor them through the college process and all of the opportunities for personal growth along that journey.
When you work with Virtual College Counselors, we promise:
1. Personalized guidance that fits the student's schedule and goals, from the comfort of their own home.
2. A simplified and guided college admissions process with straightforward, honest, and transparent conversations.
3. Expert, up-to-date, and insider information from a former college admissions counselor with a vast professional network.
4. Transformational Coaching that emphasizes the academic, professional, and personal growth of students.
5. Reduced stress, time saved, and one-on-one support with industry experts.
How does Virtual College Counselors work with students?
At Virtual College Counselors we believe in a comprehensive and collaborative approach to working with students. Students are assigned a primary college counselor. Their primary college counselor will be their main contact for working through the college admissions process and scheduling any advising sessions. As colleagues, we leverage our specific professional capacities, knowledge bases, and personal experiences to support every student through the process. This means that all students have two counselors collaborating to help support a student on their journey to success.