Local vs. Online College Counseling: Which is Better?

young troubled woman using laptop at home
Madeleine Karydes
Madeleine Karydes

Madeleine attended UC Berkeley and double-majored in English and Media Studies. She is now an integral part of the Empowerly team.

Local or online? In-person or virtual? Parents and families searching for the best available guidance for their students applying to college face an important decision. Believe it or not, it’s a conversation that we at Empowerly have with families often. When weighing the pros and cons of local vs. online college counseling, what should you know? 

Don’t stress. We’re going to give it to you straight, and discuss how each can help you in different ways. 

An Investment

Firstly, though, in case you’re on the fence, let’s address why college counseling is so important of an investment. Working with a qualified counselor, you can see your odds of all of the following increase: 

  • getting accepted into that summer program you love
  • being hired for an amazing internship
  • being accepted into the college or university of your choice
  • figuring out your passions and potential career path early
  • avoiding paying too much for tuition
  • selecting the right college for you in terms of culture, opportunities, and prestige
  • handling the tricky transitional phases as you face your young adulthood!

In fact, our company can say that these chances (as opposed to not working with a counselor for guidance) improved by three times. Three times greater chance! That is significant in today’s fiercely competitive landscape. 

So, there is no reason not to seek help from a professional counseling service to help your dreams become reality. College counselors can also help you change and transition from one major to one another or make a career change that will impact your life for years to come.

Local or Online?

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, one of our STEM experts wrote an article encouraging families to consider online college counseling for their health. And yes, there are clear, on-going public health benefits to working with a counselor virtually. Nonetheless, there are benefits to local counseling too. Let’s go deeper on the difference between local vs. online college counseling.

1. Local counseling

When you work with a local counselor, chances are, you can find someone to recommend them. That means you can talk to a friend or classmate who worked with them already and get the scoop. There’s also a chance they might know more about your high school or the local college you are considering applying to. And if you do want to meet with them in-person, having a counselor that is local means that you could, theoretically, set up physical meetings. All of these are compelling options.

However, college counselors employed by public school districts and universities are overbooked. Depending on your school and district, you, as students, don’t get nearly as much time with them as you may need. Next up, let’s talk about online counseling.

2. Online counseling

Online counselors, different from local options, tend to work extra hard to earn your trust. That means providing case studies from previous students, references from happy families, and evidence of how their program works (in numbers). The internet is a powerful tool, so if your counselors don’t know everything about your high school, much can be uncovered through context and research. The upside to virtual meetings is that you have increased access to your counselor’s schedule on shorter notice, no commute time, and flexibility to find someone in your time zone (or a contrasting time zone, if you want to meet in the middle of the night)! And, as mentioned above, you get as much one-on-one face time with your counselor as you need.

What Do YOU Think?

My personal bias falls towards online counseling. Think about it this way: working online gives you the freedom to be matched with an expert from a totally different background than your hometown. Not only can you make use of a full digital suite of tools to help you, the online accountability tracks your progress. Plus, depending on your interests, you can work with someone from Stanford, Harvard, UC Berkeley, or the like, directly! They’ll meet with you, review your essays in Google Docs, and send you emails about your work between sessions, depending on the level of support you need. Even better, you can interview expert counselors in a range of career fields. If you’re motivated, you can even learn what you would be interested in pursuing for your career. 

And finally, a small perk to ours (the Empowerly program) in particular: we can even set you up with a virtual internship.

The Best Counselor Out There

No matter what you choose, there are clear benefits to working with a college counselor as opposed to trying to face the application process on your own. 

The professional experience and connections that an experienced college counselor has can make a significant impact in your educational career as well as your professional working career. When you seek guidance, you are taking a big step toward improving your odds of success on many levels of your life. Professional college counseling teams have vast experience ranging from Ivy league and top-notch college educations to graduate degrees, to having contacts in different careers, in different locations, and with different experiences which can benefit you in many ways.

College counselors are available to help you do more than just complete a college application. You may not be aware of the multi-faceted services offered by professional college counselors and how they can help you with various ventures. College counseling can assist you with finding the perfect summer educational programs, superior and competitive internships, opportunities at the leading employers, and build a resume that will knock it out of the park! They can help with career services and even help you choose the right major as well. Financial aid assistance and guidance is also available to help you make your education affordable. All of these services are things you should ask for when you work with a college counselor, no matter who it is. 

The best college counselor is the one who can help you the most.

Conclusion: Your Choice

In the end, the choice is yours. Whether you choose local vs. online college counseling or still aren’t decided, college counseling is a good choice. Hopefully these descriptions addressed your main concerns and shed some light on the decision you’re facing! 

Remember, it is never too early or too late to benefit from the services of a professional college counseling team. With the right guidance and the right attention, you can reach for the stars. Let a counselor help you attain your goals and turn your dreams into reality. With the right dedication and help, you can change the world.

If you have any questions, still, please feel free to reach out! You can book a free consultation with a team member at Empowerly to talk through your concerns, learn about how our program operates, and gain more insight into your decision. We are happy to answer anything you’re curious about. There’s no downside to extra information. Ultimately, Empowerly wants to help you find your best future and success in college. That’s what we care most about. 

So, what are you waiting for? 

Questions? Let us know!