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Deciding to work with a college counselor is an investment, and as with any investment, a return is expected. A spend without a return is not an investment, it is a purchase. Pre-determining the value of the return can be the best measurement of whether or not it is a good idea to invest. One method is to evaluate what the investor will receive back in value; another method is to consider what will be lost if the investor chooses not to invest. Both methods are valid, but require different mindsets.

Let’s consider an upfront investment in a college counseling agency and what the potential return may be. First, let’s look at what might be gained by investing. The easiest metric of measuring return is typically in terms of potential monetary gain. Is there a way if I invest $X, I will get back $2X or $3X or $5X? When it comes to money for college, identifying, applying for, and receiving grants; locating, applying for, and earning scholarships, and negotiating financial aid packages is one of the easiest and most objective ways to determine whether or not you got the return you wanted on your investment. If you would have received a financial aid package of $21K/year off of a $36K tuition bill without the help of a college counselor, but you received $25K/year with the help of one, your return is $4K/year or $16K over a 4 year period. Now, let’s look at what might be lost by not investing. Knowing that almost 2 out of every 5 students transfer colleges at least once, and understanding that when one transfers, there is an imminent loss of credits – which means you lost the money you paid for those credits with and have to pay for them again at the next school; a delayed entrance into the workforce – which means you are giving up a salary as an employee by needing to attend college another year. Of course there are a myriad of non-monetary losses one may incur including the stress and anxiety of starting the search process over, the social stigma of not making it or failing to choose the right school, etc.

In summary, a case could easily be made that the value of hiring a college counselor ranges from $40,000 to $70,000 depending on the student. There aren’t too many investment opportunities that can produce this type of return or yield.

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