A higher education consultant can refer to two different professions. The first is an individual who works with teens and their families when they are applying to colleges and universities; this individual will assist with the admissions process and will offer advice on applying to colleges, preparing for interviews, and being as competitive as possible, making it more likely that the student will be accepted to the university. The second type of higher education consultant works with the colleges and universities directly, attempting to reform certain aspects of the university such as the admissions process or even the type of programs offered to make them more desirable to students and professors.
The first type of higher education consultant is most common, and is often hired by families who want their children to get into extremely competitive schools, such as Ivy League schools. This consultant will then work with the family and the student throughout the entire admissions process, first strategizing about which schools should be applied to as first choices and back-up schools, then assisting with the actual application process. This individual will be able to offer specific advice about what the school is looking for, as well as what types of extracurricular activities, grades, or SAT scores are necessary in order to be accepted into the school.
In addition, the higher education consultant may also work with the students in preparing for the interview process. It is important that anyone who wants to work in this career enjoy working with people and have experience interacting with different colleges and universities, and be familiar with the application and interview process. There is no specific training available for this career path, though some have master's degrees or higher in education, or other fields such as financial planning. This is typically a self-made career that can be very lucrative for people who are good at it. Other job titles include college planning consultant or educational planners, among others.
The second type of higher education consultant generally works as part of an educational consulting firm. This is a much more lengthy process, but it is ultimately designed to make the university itself more competitive among other educational institutions. This is because these universities tend to attract more students as well as higher quality professors. The university will typically hire a consulting firm to address specific areas of concern, such as application, admission, or graduation rates; the higher education consultants will then research and analyze the university, and offer suggestions for areas of improvement and methods of implementing change.