If you want to become a higher education consultant, you typically must hold an advanced degree yourself — at minimum, a bachelor’s degree. You also should have a passion for learning, because a higher education consultant should serve as a role model or mentor for prospective students. You should glean all the information you can about the entire college admissions process and the options for the degree programs available, and you should possess foundational knowledge about adolescent psychology and development. It’s also wise to familiarize yourself with what is available for higher education careers so you can pass on that advice to students who inquire about the opportunities that their degrees might open for them.
As you pursue your options to become a higher education consultant, also called a college admissions counselor, consider a few suggestions that address work in higher education. First of all, if you don’t already hold a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in education, psychology or a related field, you need to achieve that initial goal. After you have earned that degree, or if you already have one, you should take advantage of professional training opportunities offered by universities or professional associations for college admissions consulting. You also can volunteer at a high school guidance office or a non-profit organization dedicated to providing prospective college students with college planning advice. Numerous professional organizations also offer professional development workshops and provide the opportunity to network with other higher education consultants.
Before you take that step to become a higher education consultant, however, it’s important to consider the qualities or traits you should possess. Obviously, a consultant works with people, so you need to have excellent “people skills” as you work in higher education with students and their parents. Other soft skills relevant to consulting in higher education are good communication skills, both in listening and speaking; a genuine desire to help students achieve their academic goals; and the capacity to encourage students who might feel frustrated or discouraged at some point along their educational journeys.
After you become a higher education consultant, you should stay current with important higher education topics and events. Take advantage of professional development opportunities, or consider pursuing additional higher education or some other type of training that will hone your skills and keep you sharp for those students who seek a higher education consultant. This will, in essence, demonstrate your ability to be a role model and exemplify the wisdom of your decision to become a higher education consultant.