Ralph Figueroa, Albuquerque Academy

Ralph Figueroa is Director of College Guidance at Albuquerque Academy in New Mexico, an independent day school serving approximately 1,100 students in grades six through twelve. As Figueroa describes it, Albuquerque Academy provides its students with the high-powered college preparatory education of a selective school but with the less anxious attitude that typifies New Mexico. “It’s not high-pressure,” he says. “It’s not frenetic about the college process, kids are much more open to opportunities and options and there aren’t the huge family pressures you sometimes see other places.”

Hiring an Independent College Counselor

Independent counselors— also sometimes called “consultants”—work outside of the high school and are not employed by a school or school district, providing private fee-based services directly to students and their families. Hiring an independent counselor may benefit some students, the particulars of which we discuss extensively in Chapter 4, College Counselors and Advisors, in our book.

The issue of whether to hire an independent counselor is complex and parents should consider carefully the costs and benefits to their family and the student’s future.  For those families who have thought through the matter carefully and decide to hire an independent counselor, consultant Todd Johnson joins us today as a guest blogger to discuss how families can begin that process:

Not everyone needs an independent or private college admission counselor. But if you are considering hiring one, how do you find the best consultant for your needs?

Charlene Aguilar, Lakeside School

Charlene Aguilar is Director of College Counseling at Lakeside School, an independent day school for grades 5 through 12 in Seattle, Washington.  A graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara and Harvard University's Graduate School of Education, Aguilar has worked both sides of the desk in college admissions during her career.  She began as an admissions counselor at her alma mater in Santa Barbara and served as Associate Director of Undergraduate Admission at Stanford and Director of Undergraduate Admissions at Santa Clara University.  For ten years prior to coming to Lakeside, she was Director of College Counseling and Dean of the junior class at Castilleja School, an all-girls independent school in Palo Alto, California.