Point: Should students partake in college counseling?

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Dylan Rothman, Contributing Writer

When the topic of college applications arises, it invariably brings about frustration and confusion.  Most information regarding what is important to consider when submitting an application are not in agreement.  The courses of action recommended by one’s guidance counselor are seldom reiterated in the advice of friends, parents, and popular books.  Individual universities have their own expectations and requirements, which adds to the confusion.  With such a barrage of information, students and their parents find themselves uncertain as to which source of knowledge is correct.
Contrary to popular opinion, there is no secret for gaining admission to any single university.  Instead, submitting an application requires the qualified applicant to shed their preconceptions and contemplate which seemingly extraneous qualities they do or do not possess to assist their cause.  A successful application must reach beyond the strategies of academic excellence to know what colleges truly look for in applicants.
Most successful applicants are diligent in collecting both a depth and breadth of knowledge that allows them to compare and contrast sources, and evaluate their preferred course of action in meaningful way.  College applications are similar to important medical procedures in that both hold ramifications for the future, and that participants would be wise to seek a second opinion.  College counselors can balance information sources, because they often have firsthand experience as admissions officers at prestigious universities, and their perspective on the famously clandestine workings of admissions offices is invaluable.  This is especially true when the applicant is in the process of writing their common app essay, since a good essay is both eloquently written, as well as conscious of the admissions officer’s perspective. 
“College is important for the future,” said junior Andrew Gruber.  “And my college counselor is helpful for me in answering all of my questions, alleviating stress, and finding programs that might interest me.”
Two of the major concerns with independent college counseling are that it is more available to the affluent, and that it cannot guarantee any particular outcome.  To address the latter point, the goal of college counseling is to expand the resource base for an applicant and allow students to see a different perspective with regards to the admissions process.  Knowledge is power, so students have the option to do what they desire with the advice they are given.  At the least, the knowledge with which they have been provided can be stowed away without being expressly followed. Additional perspective cannot hurt. Ignorance can leave an applicant wondering whether they would have been admitted to a particular university had they known more.  Of course, a proper match has to be made between the counselor and student.  
“I think that there is a range of qualities,” said physics teacher Mr. Donald Fish.  “Some counselors’ advice will be better for some students than others.”
It is important for research to be done on the part of the applicant so that the best counselor can be found.
It is already known that the college application process is unfairly geared toward the affluent.  This is an unfortunate fact, but one that is in the hands of universities and institutions to fix. It has been well documented that the SAT favors students who have the money to pay tutors for test preparation.  The fact is, if college admissions were reformed the need for exorbitant amounts of money to be spent on outside service would be decreased. 
At the present time it is still within any student’s prerogative to exploit their advantages to achieve their goals.  It is in a financially capable student’s best interest to partake in activities that will help them towards winning admission into the school of their choice.  It is not as if all affluent students lack capability.  Rather, they must present themselves in such a way that they distinguish themselves from the vast ocean of other applicants who are vying for admission.  College counseling is, in essence, the edge that many applicants need in order to have a fighting chance at their goals.  Participating in college counseling is like another arrow in a student’s quiver; whether or not it is used, it is a good idea to have on hand.