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Let’s face it–getting into college is a huge source of stress for many parents and their children, not just in the United States but all over the world. The United States is home to the top elite schools on the planet. As a result, not only are the best of the best of American students are applying for these schools, but they are also competed over by students from the rest of the world. These international students are no slouches. Many of them come from very wealthy and accomplished families that are willing to spend top dollar to make sure that their children go to the best American schools.

Considering the huge amount of competition for top American institutions, it is not a surprise that there is a fast-growing cottage industry of college admissions counselors. These counselors help parents and their children with planning to get into top schools as well as helping them apply and deal with the admissions materials. Many counselors also help with the financial aid process. Given the large selection of admissions partners, it is too easy to contract the services of a faulty counselor. I am not going to say they are a fake, but there are many faulty college admissions counselors out there. In fact, if you run a Google News search on some college admissions counselors, some are facing law suits and even fraud cases for making big promises that they could not deliver on. The stakes and the risks are high. That is why if you are looking for a solid college admissions counseling, you have to really use a lot of common sense and also pretend that you are a private investigator. Ask for their past clients. Interview those people. Look at their website. Figure out if people are talking about the website. Figure out who is behind the company. Do a search for the names of the people behind that company. Look for Better Business Bureau Certification. In other words, do the leg work. If you do not want to get burned, if you do not want to get ripped off and you do not want to lose your hard-earned money, make sure that you do the leg work to fully get the information that you need to make an informed decision.

College admissions counseling is no joke. It can cost a lot of money and most importantly can cost you your peace of mind if you go with an incompetent or faulty service provider. You have to undertake this process very seriously. If you are a parent, make sure you have a plan. If you are a student, make sure your parents are working with you. You have to work together to get all the information that you needed and always follow your gut instincts. There are too many scammers out there and the worst thing they can rob you off is not your money, but your trust and your time. In this tough college admissions sweepstakes, trust, peace of mind and time are the most precious commodities–guard them carefully.

Popular education blogger Chris Walker wrote this guest post on behalf of the Internet’s leading source of free sample admission essay models, IvyResearch.Com