Who are the current top college counselors nationally (US)?
College Coach, Ivy Coach, and Ivy Wise appear to be the top three college counselors in the US, based on their reported success rates, prominent mentions in news media, memberships with reputable accrediting bodies, and annual revenue. Other highly-regarded organizations include ThinkTank Learning, Top Tier Admissions, mbaMission, Stacy Blackman Consulting, and College Horizons.
You can jump right to this spreadsheet to read more on each organization or read on below for more information on the assumptions, limitations, and methodology that informed this analysis.
First, I took "college counselors" here to be synonymous with "admissions consultants," rather than (for example) guidance or psychiatric counselors who are employed by a US college or university, or high school guidance counselors. Thus, these latter two categories have been excluded from my analysis.
Second, I assume that use of the term "college counselor" here does not imply the candidates listed should be exclusively focused on facilitating admission to undergraduate programs, but rather could counsel applicants to any US tertiary degree, including graduate programs.
The greatest limitation of this research is that I was not able to find any publicly available pre-existing rankings of college counselors using any criteria (e.g. number of students served per year, successful admissions rate, annual revenue, etc.). The one exception to this is GMAT Club's annual admission consultants rankings. While I have factored these into my findings, I have endeavored to provide the bulk of my research from other sources, as these are specific to MBA admissions.
Based on these assumptions and limitations, I used the following methodology to gather some useful information for you!
After confirming the aforementioned limitations, I used the following tactics to populate a list of US college counselors who are likely to be among the "top" in the US, based on success rate, reputation, revenue, or some combination thereof:
- First, I confirmed the relevant governing/accrediting bodies for college counselors in the US. Based on my findings, the most prominent among these are:
* National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC)
* Higher Education Consultants Association (HECA)
* Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA)
- I confirmed that none of these bodies appears to rank their membership in any way; nor do they offer any information in their media materials that would allow us to rank their members by any criteria. Some do, however, have yearly awards recognizing members' excellence or outstanding achievements.
- I scoured reputable news media and industry reports to find the most prominent and/or frequently mentioned college admissions consultants.
- Finally, based on the above search paths, I compiled a long list of potential candidates, and refined and enriched the results by endeavoring to include the following:
* Which (if any) accrediting bodies they belong to;
* By what criteria are they likely to be considered among the "top"?
- For example: success rate, annual revenue, industry awards won, etc.
I have collated my findings into a spreadsheet for you here.
Because of the lack of unifying rankings data available in this field, the data I was able to find is not entirely "apples to apples"; that is (for example), some institutions may be included because of their success rate, and others because of having won an industry award. Where available, I have attempted to provide annual revenue as a unifying metric that could be used to sort and rank this list, but (as you'll note), this data was not public for all.
Further, you'll note that a few of the results I've included are less general in scope: two MBA-specific organizations (as previously mentioned), and one nonprofit dedicated to serving Native American students. While these may be more specialized than you had in mind, I included them due to their prominence and/or reputability according to my findings, as well as to give you as broad a base as possible to assess the US admissions consulting landscape.
Now that we've established this broad base, you may want to identify more specific research pathways to pursue! For example, it may be of interest to identify top admissions counselors for specific regions of the US, or targeting specific schools, disciplines, or student populations. If this would be useful to you, just let us know and we'd be happy to conduct some fresh research for you!