Updated May 7, 2021
Despite the growing rate of tuition, more people are attending college out of high school than ever before. And with this increased number of attendees comes greater competition for the limited number of spots available at each institution. That’s why thousands of college applicants have sought the help of professional college admissions consultants to ensure they are as competitive and attractive as they can be as applicants.
These days, there’s a lot more to college admissions than your GPA and SAT scores. Most colleges use a ‘holistic’ admissions process, meaning they consider many parts of a prospective student’s application, including test scores, GPA, high school course load, application essay, extracurricular activities, community service, work history, and much more. In short, meeting college admission requirements isn’t as easy as reaching a certain test score—there’s much more to it than that.
And while it’s certainly possible to be admitted to your top undergraduate school by approaching the admissions process on your own, your chances are significantly higher if you enlist the help of professional college admissions consultants.
In this guide, we’ll go over everything you need to know about the services provided by college admissions consultants, what to look for and expect in a consultant, and our picks for the top college admissions consultants available.
Please note that several of the links included below are affiliate links. At no extra cost to you, we may earn a referral commission if you use one of the courses below. Only use the links if you have been helped by our review!
College Admissions Consultants Reviews and Exclusive Discounts
|College Admissions Consultant|
|COMPANY||ADMISSIONADO||VERITAS PREP||A-LIST EDUCATION||ACCEPTED||TOP TIER||COLLEGE COACH||PREPSCHOLAR|
|COMPREHENSIVE PLAN STARTING PRICE||$4,295||$4,700||$4,800||$8,850||N/A||$5,800||$6,8950|
|UNLIMITED PLAN (No School Limit, No Time Limit)|
|ADVANCED APPLICATION PACKAGE|
|ADDITIONAL CONSULTING||Grad, MBA||MBA||Medical, Law, Grad, MBA||Grad, Gap Year Guidance||College Transfer Counseling|
|A LA CARTE SERVICES||No a la carte options||School Selection, Test Strategy, Essays, Resume Planning||Essays, Resume Planning, Student Athlete Consulting, Transfer Apps +||Final Application Review, Essays, Waitlist Review, Rejection Review||Common App Guidance, Test Prep, Essays, Waitlist, Guidance||No a la carte options||Full Essay Service, Grade 9-11 Mentorship|
|GET STARTED||Start Now||Start Now||Start Now||Start Now||Start Now||Start Now||Start Now|
For more on our ranking and review process, jump down to the bottom of this article to see How We’ve Ranked the Top College Admissions Consultants.
Review and Compare Top College Admissions Consultants
Admissionado (Rank #1)
Founded in 2007 by two college friends, Admissionado has quickly become one of the top college admissions consulting firms around, and they rank number one in our list for a variety of reasons. Perhaps the most significant factor for us is their no-nonsense approach to college admissions. Admissionado consultants are honest and upfront about what they can offer their clients.
One unique aspect of Admissionado’s services is the way they divide their work among experts. Rather than having a single consultant manage all aspects of a client’s services, they instead have a team of consultants that work in their areas of expertise. For instance, one person might help you with your applications, while another person who is more well-versed in writing will work with you on your essays. This way, you get the best person for each job, though there are head consultants that will work with students one-on-one. With that in mind, it’s no surprise their essay preparation and editing, interview prep, and customer service are second-to-none.
Admissionado Featured Consultants:
- Athena Lao: Educator, degrees from Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania
- David Fung: Business Executive, degrees from MIT, Columbia University
- Anna Li – Professional Chef, Degree from University of Chicago
- Rob Franklin – Former Consultant at Bain, Degree from Stanford University
Admissionado Staff Admissions Experience:
- Harvard University
- Stanford University
- University of Pennsylvania
- Columbia University
- Brown University
- The UC System
Veritas Prep (Rank #2)
Started in 2001 by a group of Ivy League students, Veritas Prep is one of the most successful college admissions consultant firms around. Part of this success has a lot to do with the high-achievers they hire as consultants. Indeed, Veritas Prep consultants have all earned test scores in the 99th percentile! On top of that, each Veritas prep college consultant has actual experience working in admissions at a top college, giving them insider knowledge of Ivy League admission requirements for institutions around the country. This all shows that the consultants at Veritas Prep have the personal experience to back up their claims of expertise in elite college admissions. What’s more, since 2002, Veritas Prep has helped over 300,000 students get accepted to their dream schools. You can’t argue with results!
Veritas Prep Featured Consultants:
- Jessie Hill: Dean at Yale University, Writer, degrees from Barnard College and Columbia University
- Ruben Alonzo: Educator, degrees from MIT, Harvard University and Columbia University
Veritas Prep Staff Admissions Experience:
- Princeton University
- College of William and Mary
- Yale University
- Brown University
- Smith College
- UC – Berkeley
- Duke University
- + more
A-List Education (Rank #3)
A-List Education has been around for over 15 years, and offers various educational services like test prep programs, homeschool services, and private tutoring and college advising. When it comes to college consulting, A-List has a unique catalogue of packages that come in three different varieties: college advising & application packages, college advising & tutoring packages, or hourly advising & tutoring packages. These packages are differentiated by the number of hours of consulting that they provide and how many schools a student can apply to, but the services that you can take advantage of within those limits are expansive.
With the amount of variety that A-List provides in terms of package options, students are highly likely to get a custom-tailored service that matches their specific consulting needs. Budget-friendly options are available a la carte through hourly packages, while bundle packages that combine college advising with application or tutoring services can give you more value-for-money if you need to accomplish a variety of tasks.
A-List Featured Consultants:
- Anna Marie S.: Former Admissions Counselor at Rice University, degree from Davidson College
- Leslie R.: Presidential Scholar & STEM education specialist, degree from Bryn Mawr College
Top Tier Staff Admissions Experience:
- New York University
- Rice University
- University of Southern California
Accepted (Rank #4)
Accepted has been around since 1994, so they have considerable experience with college admissions. But it’s not the experience of the consulting firm that really impressed us; rather, it’s Accepted’s focus on one-on-one, personalized consulting.
Another benefit from going with Accepted is their various other consulting services, which go beyond just undergraduate admissions consulting. You can use Accepted’s top-notch consultant team when applying to medical school, law school, business school, or any other graduate program.
Accepted Featured Consultants:
- Natalie Epstein: Dean of Admissions, degree from the University of Michigan
- Marie Todd: Admissions Specialist, degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison
Accepted Staff Admissions Experience:
- University of Michigan
- University of North Carolina
- Michigan State University
- Cornell University
- + more
Top Tier Admissions (Rank #5)
If it’s experience and expertise you’re after, it’s hard to beat Top Tier Admissions. While not as large as some of the other firms on this list, Top Tier has a proven track record of success in getting students admitted to their top-choice schools. Top Tier has been around for 20 years, and their leadership and consultants have direct experience working in admissions offices at top universities in the US.
In comparison to other undergraduate admission consultants on our list, this team doesn’t have quite as much experience working directly inside admissions departments, but that hasn’t stopped the team from becoming one of the most successful consulting firms out there.
Top Tier Admissions Featured Consultants:
- Kristen Willmott: Admissions and Financial Aid Officer, degrees from the University of Rochester and Ithaca College
- Brian Feldman: Business and Policy Analyst, studied at Washington University, Harvard University and the University of Oxford
Top Tier Staff Admissions Experience:
- Dartmouth College
- Harvard University
College Coach (Rank #6)
College Coach, founded in 1998, takes a truly student-focused approach to college admissions consulting. Their philosophy is that focusing on their clients’ unique goals, strengths, and accomplishments is the best way to get them accepted into top educational programs and universities. And we agree. College Coach emphasizes that the key to college admissions isn’t trying to be like everyone else, but rather is about making yourself stand out from the crowd by amplifying what makes you special.
One thing to watch out for, though, is that College Coach doesn’t offer cheaper a la carte services for students who need help with only one aspect of their admissions package. To make use of College Coach’s insight into undergrad admissions, you’ll need to shell out enough money for their more expensive and comprehensive consultant packages.
College Coach Featured Consultants:
- Amy Alexander: College Advisor, degree from Yale University
- Sarah Calvert-Kubrom: Educational Administrator, degree from Lewis & Clark College
College Coach Staff Admissions Experience:
- Yale University
- Northwestern University
- Reed College
- Swarthmore College
- Babson College
- Goucher College
- + more
PrepScholar is well-known thanks to their prep courses for tests like the SAT, ACT, and GMAT, to name a few, and the quality and expertise they’ve developed for those services carries over to their college admission consulting. They don’t offer as many a la carte options as you’ll find with other companies on our list, but their essay editing and full essay packages are some of the most affordable ones on our list. PrepScholar’s cheapest essay service, their Essay Editing package, can provide you with expert-level revision for as low as $195!
When compared to other top undergrad consulting firms, PrepScholar may not have quite as much in-depth admissions administration experience. Still, they have plenty of experience in the higher education admissions field thanks to the years they’ve spent providing test prep services to students. On top of that, their staff includes an expert group of students from top tier colleges that each have stellar standardized test scores. All this makes PrepScholar a good option for those seeking affordable a la carte services or guidance from consultants that really know their way around the world of standardized testing.
PrepScholar Featured Consultants:
- Anna Wulick: Educator, degrees from Princeton University and Columbia University
- Eric C.: Historian and Educator, degree from Harvard University, studies at the University of Cambridge
Elite Advantage Prep Admissions Experience:
Elite Advantage Prep (Rank #8)
Elite Advantage Prep is a small, but growing, college admissions consulting firm. Among the many excellent aspects of Elite Advantage is their personalized service and variety of consulting package options. In fact, they have a package for every high school grade, so you can find the perfect package for where you’re at in your college admissions journey.
The young age of this business, combined with their small consultant team, make Elite Advantage Prep a bit less experienced overall than other major college consulting firms on this list. Even so, they offer great options for personalization through their a la carte services, which let you purchase just the services that you need without spending extra money on things you don’t.
Elite Advantage Prep Featured Consultants:
- Anna Ren: Admissions Strategist, degree from Georgetown University
- Fadhal Moore: Educator, studied at Harvard University and Georgetown University
Elite Advantage Prep Admissions Experience:
- Georgetown University
- Harvard University
Other College Admissions Consulting Options
While the following admissions consultants didn’t make our list, they are certainly deserving of honorable mention status. Here are a few college admissions consultants you should also consider when weighing your options:
Anna Ivey Consulting (Rank #9)
Solomon Admissions Consulting (Rank #10)
Shemmassian Academic Consulting (Rank #11)
College Admissions Consultant Alternatives
If you’ve decided that you don’t want to hire a college admissions consultant—either because you don’t think there’s enough value in it for you, or it’s simply too expensive for your budget—there are several other options you might consider as alternatives that could also increase your chances of getting accepted to your top-choice schools.
First, reach out to school alumni for advice. After all, these are the people who have been where you are now and got in! You’d be surprised at the kinds of valuable insight you can get from school alumni.
Next, seek out current and former admissions officers. While current admissions officers probably won’t offer you much help, if you can find a former officer, they might have some good tips and advice on how to make yourself a more competitive applicant.
Finally, if the all-inclusive college admissions consultants packages are too expensive for you, consider looking into the a la carte options available from many of the firms we’ve listed. This is a good way to get some help and advice on just the things you need assistance with, without having to shell out tons of cash for the comprehensive packages.
How We’ve Ranked the Top College Admissions Consultants:
After reviewing the top admissions consultants, we have ranked them based on the following criteria.
While experience isn’t the most significant factor for us, we did take it into consideration. While we think even newer college admissions consultants at companies like Admissionado and Elite Advantage Prep can do just as good a job as many of the more established firms, there’s no denying that having college admissions industry experience is a major help.
When it comes to matching you with a college admissions consultant, each consultant firm has its own process. This is key to your success when working with an admissions consultant, and there are pros and cons to every approach.
For instance, with larger college admissions consultant firms, you get the benefit of knowing that there is a large enough staff to provide you with the personalized support you need. On the other hand, smaller consultant firms may be able to offer even more individual support because they have smaller client loads.
Either way, it’s important that you do your research when it comes to each firm’s matchmaking process. Some firms take a team-based approach to consulting, which has many benefits, like specialized expertise in different areas of the application process. This also has some downsides, like the possibility of feeling like you’re ‘lost in the shuffle’ or like you aren’t getting the one-on-one support you’re looking for.
Ultimately, we gave greater preference for firms, large or small, that connect you with a single, dedicated consultant who also has the support of the entire firm’s team.
Is Unlimited Truly Unlimited?
While nearly all college admissions consultant firms provide some kind of ‘unlimited package,’ some put caps on the amount of time the consultant spends with a given client, or the amount of schools you can apply to without additional cost. This is usually the result of the firm only paying each consultant by the contract, rather than by time spent. Of course, for us, we have given more weight to those firms that offer truly unlimited and comprehensive packages, as well as those that are upfront about the time they can devote to each client.
Top-Tier Admissions Committee Representation
We have given some measure of preference to those college admissions consultant firms that staff consultants with top-tier admissions committee experience. While this wasn’t a major factor—after all, one doesn’t need to actually serve on admissions committees to be a good consultant—it is something that we considered, and those firms with top-tier representation were given extra consideration in our rankings.
Limits on Consultant Load
Due to the nature of the college admissions calendar—as most college applications are due at the same time of year—we have given special consideration to the limits on consultant load. We wanted to be sure that any college admissions consultant we recommend is able to provide as much attention as possible for their clients, so we gave firms a higher ranking if they show evidence that they limit each consultant’s client load.
Team vs. Individual Approach
As we’ve mentioned above, we believe the best system for a college admissions consultant firm is one that matches clients with a dedicated consultant who is backed by a larger team. This way, you’ll get the one-on-one interaction and personal relationship that is so key to this kind of service, as well as the specific expertise offered by a larger team effort.
Who doesn’t like bonus content? We’ve given extra preference to those consulting firms that offer useful resources outside the boilerplate stuff you get from every consultant firm. These are things like interactive web platforms, special ‘boot camps,’ and other innovative approaches that can help you get where you want to be.
Because of the nature of college admissions consulting, we placed a considerable emphasis on firms that offer a free consultation. We simply had a hard time justifying ranking many firms who don’t offer such a free consultation. After all, how can you (and the consultant) know if the relationship is going to be productive if they just take your money upfront before they know anything about you? We simply think that the free initial consultation is one of the most important things any firm can offer because it will get all parties involved on the same page from the outset.
What We’ve Left Out:
Self-Reported Success Rates
In the interest of providing quality, unbiased rankings of college admissions consultants, we have left out any mention of self-reported success rates. While we certainly don’t believe that the self-reported success rates of our picks are necessarily in dispute, we felt it would be more useful to provide our own analysis, unskewed by the rates the firms themselves advertise.
What Is a College Admissions Consultant?
Simply put, a college admissions consultant is an individual or organization that you hire to assist you with the college admissions process. Services vary from consultant to consultant, but they all share the same goal: to get their clients admitted to their top-choice schools. Often, they’ll help you with your college admission essays, overall application, and resumes—many offer interview preparation services and coaching as well.
Though there has been some negative press recently about college admissions consultants, the truth is that the vast majority of them are reputable organizations that operate ethically, with the sole focus of helping applicants reach their educational goals. Indeed, the consultants we’ve included in this guide have strong reputations and are not the sort of bad actors that have dominated the news in the past couple of years.
So, is hiring a college admissions consultant something you should consider? We hope to help you answer that question in the next section, so read on for all the details you need to make a smart decision.
Who Should Hire a College Admissions Consultant?
The short answer is simple: anyone who wants to have an edge in the college admissions process! The long answer is, of course, a bit more complex. For starters, hiring a college admissions consultant isn’t exactly cheap. So, one of the first things you need to consider when deciding whether or not to hire an admissions consultant is your budget. Can you afford to hire one?
While cost is probably the single biggest factor to consider, another important thing to take into account is the amount of time you have to devote to working with a college admissions consultant. While these consultants work hard to help you get where you want to be, it will require a significant investment of your own time and energy as well. You’ll need to find the time to work with them on your essays, resume, interview prep, and much more. So, if you’re already pretty swamped with school and extracurricular activities, be sure you can carve out the time to work with a consultant before you hire one.
That said, there are many people who should seriously consider hiring a college admissions consultant. You might be one of them if you have clear, practical goals, have seriously considered your options, and are committed to following through with the college admissions process and getting the most out of the services consultants provide.
So, what exactly do college admissions consultants provide, and what can you expect if you hire one? We’ll answer these questions in the following section.
Will a College Admissions Consultant Get Me Into a Top School?
One thing you should not expect from a college admissions consultant is a miracle. Admissions consultants can only do so much with what they’re given. So, if your grades or test scores are sub-par, you might want to consider that before hiring an admissions consultant, since there’s nothing a consultant can do to change that. The fact is, no matter how gifted the admissions consultant is, they can’t guarantee that you’ll be admitted to your dream school.
That being said, if you are reasonable in your expectations and are committed to working diligently with your admissions consultant, you can seriously boost your chances of getting offers from top schools.
Top College Admission Consultants of 2021
|Best College Admissions Consultants||Course Feature||Comprehensive Package Price|
|Admissionado||Consultant + Team Approach||$4,295|
|Veritas Prep||Experienced Team||$4,700|
|A-List Education||Bundle Packages||$4,800|
|Accepted||25 Years Experience||$8,850|
|Top Tier||Additional Packages/Resources||N/A|
|College Coach||Truly unlimited Elite Package||$5,800|
|PrepScholar||100% Money Back Guarantee||$6,895|
|Elite Advantage Prep||Great A La Carte Packages||N/A|
|Anna Ivey||Cheaper 9th, 10th, 12th Grade Packages||$7,500|
|Shemmassian||Fast Turnaround Times||$2,999|
|Solomon Admissions Consulting||In-Depth College Profiles||N/A|