Table: How to Choose a Consultant

-- Get a list of names from your high school guidance office, college admissions offices, and the Independent Educational Consultants Assn. (, 703 591-4850)

-- Look for someone who has worked as a college admissions officer or high school guidance counselor

-- Make sure the person spends at least one-third of his or her time

visiting campuses, attending professional seminars, and going to college fairs

-- Be wary of anyone who offers to help write an essay, rather than just go over it, or promises to get a student into a particular school

-- If your child has a learning disability, seek a counselor who specializes in working with such students

-- Check several references

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