Career Story: Independent College Counselor

Independent College Counselor

Job Title: Independent College Counselor

Type of Company: I am self-employed, working with families all over Massachusetts and occasionally farther afield.

Education: BA, French, University of Massachusetts •• MBA, Simmons College (Boston, MA)

Previous Experience: I began work in the health care industry as a director of a start-up and began building ongoing education into the company along with numerous other management duties. I continued my career for 25 years with one foot in health care and the other in education, designing training and education for the health care industry and building networks with both health care providers and colleges. My current practice, for the last 15 years, has built on these networks and on my long-time involvement in public education.

Job Tasks: I have been fortunate in being able to follow my own philosophy (and my advice to my students): find what you love to do first, then figure out how to get paid for it -- not the reverse!

Throughout my life, dating back to stints of volunteer work in high school, I've been strongly committed to education and efforts to enable others. I have chosen both paid and volunteer positions that were consistent with my own values, one of which has always been autonomy. I recognize that I like to be in the position of doing things very thoroughly, and often according to my own lights. Self-employment has permitted all of the above.

As a counselor, I work one-on-one with high school students (and their families) as they navigate the shoals of the educational process. I help them choose their courses, find interesting extracurricular activities, plan what tests to take and when, and, finally, choose suitable colleges and prepare effective applications (and essays!) to them.

College counseling has many rewards for me, most of them intangible. Unlike many people, I love working with teenagers, and am especially gratified by the blossoming of a shy student or the hidden passion discovered by a student who had not yet found a focus. Many of the kids I've worked with remain in touch for years, and seeing their evolution is fascinating.

While it supports a modest lifestyle, college counseling is definitely not a way to get rich quick! It is, however, highly interactive, endlessly challenging, and always rewarding.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of counseling is the sustained relationship with students and families that it provides; the best part of college counseling is the challenge of an ever-changing, dynamic field.

The worst part of the job is its long hours! And the most demanding season is autumn, my favorite season that affords the least free time!

Self-employment has pros and cons -- lots of flexibility in scheduling, lots of autonomy (important to me), and the ability to work at home in sweat pants if I want. On the other hand, there's no-one to delegate to -- all the responsibilities are mine -- and there are no benefits like paid vacations, health insurance, or pensions.

Job Tips:
1. Love what you do. 2. Love what you do. 3. Love what you do.

At the moment, there is no formal preparation required for this career. There is training available, but no underlying degree or certification required to enter the field. On the other hand, you will need a willingness to do a great deal of research, work with a wide variety of people, learn continuously, listen well, and be open-minded and enormously patient. If you're a college student, work or volunteer in the admissions office at your school; if you're a high school student, volunteering with teenagers is a good start!

Additional Thoughts: This field requires enormous dedication. You need to develop encyclopedic knowledge of colleges, majors, social environments, campus personalities, trends in admissions, changes in financial aid, testing policies, etc. You need to develop an equally encyclopedic knowledge of your student. Each one is a unique bundle of interests, needs, abilities, and preferences. One student may be a D II football player who wants to study Chinese; the next may be a ballet dancer with a passion for marine science! The possible permutations are endless... which makes my role ever-challenging!

Popular Schools offering School Counseling Programs

quickinfoThese schools offer particularly quick info upon request, and we have written detailed profiles for each (click school names to see the profiles).

Request info from multiple schools, by clicking the Request Info links.

Matching School Ads

Liberty University provides a world-class education with a solid Christian foundation, equipping men and women with the values, knowledge, and skills essential for success in every aspect of life.

  • Programs: M.Ed. - School Counseling, AA in Psychology, BS in Psychology, more...
  • Degrees: Master, Associate, Bachelor

Since 1949, Grand Canyon University has been a premier private university in Arizona, helping students find their purpose and achieve their potential.

  • Programs: M.S. in Psychology with an Emphasis in Forensic Psychology, Graduate Certificate of Completion in GeroPsychology, M.S. Psychology with an Emphasis in Geropsychology, more...
  • Degrees: Master, Certificate

You've found Ashford University, where school comes to you. Earn your bachelor's or master's degree online.

  • Programs: BA/Cognitive Studies, MA Psychology, BA/Psychology
  • Degrees: Bachelor, Master

Study online with California University of Pennsylvania.

  • Programs: Sports Counseling (Certificate) - Online
  • Degrees: Certificate

Established in 1897, Bradley University is a private, independent institution of higher learning in Peoria, Illinois. Inspired by our founder, notable philanthropist Lydia Moss Bradley, we pursue excellence in teaching, research, scholarship and service; and we celebrate leadership, integrity, diversity and collaborative learning.

  • Programs: Online Master of Arts in Counseling - Professional School Counseling (PSC)
  • Degrees: Master

Discover the Difference a Community of Support Makes in Your Educational Journey. From Application to Graduation, the Support You Need to Achieve Your Goals. 100% Online.

  • Programs: AA in Psychology, BA in Psychology/Experimental Psychology, BA in Psychology/Social Psychology, more...
  • Degrees: Associate, Bachelor

Earn your graduate degree online with Northcentral University.

  • Programs: Mental Health Policy and Practice - Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology, Psychology - BA, General Psychology - PhD of Psychology, more...
  • Degrees: Doctorate, Bachelor, Master

Welcome to Argosy University

Argosy University offers doctoral, master's, and bachelor's degree programs to students through its eight colleges:  College of Behavioral Sciences, Graduate School of Business and Management, College of Education,  College of Health Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences, College of Creative Arts and Design, College of Clinical Psychology and Western State College of Law at Argosy University as well as certificate programs in many areas.

  • Programs: Psychology (BA), Psychology (BA) (Online), Counseling Psychology (EdD), more...
  • Degrees: Bachelor, Doctorate, Master
Adler Online

Adler University Online Graduate Degree Programs

Adler University offers fully online, accredited master’s degrees with the academic rigor, personal attention, and commitment to social responsibility that have distinguished our institution for more than 60 years.

  • Programs: Master of Arts in Psychology: Specialization in Military Psychology
  • Degrees: Master

Pursue a certificate, master, or doctorate degree in Psychology at The Chicago School for Professional Psychology.

  • Programs: Ed.D. Educational Psychology and Technology, M.A. Psychology, Online Ph.D. Applied Behavior Analysis, more...
  • Degrees: Doctorate, Master, Bachelor
Matching School Ads
You are visiting:

Find a school near you

What are Career Stories?

Career Stories are concise, real-world career overviews written by people relating their personal career experiences and wisdom. They provide invaluable insights and mentoring advice to students and career changers.

Most stories include:

  • a typical day or project
  • tips and advice
  • best and worst parts
  • educational background
  • previous experience

Browse hundreds of Career Stories

More Details On This Career

Please also see our detailed information about Educational Counselors, including:

Back to Top
SPEAK TO AN ADVISOR 1.844.285.6104