College Planner Business Idea

College Planning Center of Rhode Island

cwreilly33 1/10/2008

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Business Summary:

As a college planner, you’ll use your degree together with your experience with financial planning and college admissions to help students succeed in their college careers. Because finances are such a critical part of college planning, you’ll benefit from a degree or certification in the financial planning area. Add to that your own experience in putting a child through the college admissions process, and you’ll have valuable experience to bring to the table. Here are some of the issues you’ll help to resolve for would-be college grads:

  • What federal and state education aid programs are available – and how and when should one apply?
  • What are the client’s long-range goals and what colleges best meet those goals?
  • What should the client accomplish during campus visits?
  • How can you improve a client’s writing skills for entrance essays?
  • How can your client evaluate her skills to help determine her career path?
  • What assistance is most effective in the college application process?

In short, you’ll be able to provide specialized knowledge to relieve anxiety and guide students through the college selection and application process with empathy and confidence.

Start Up Cost: Varies – $5,000

Can Be Home Based?: Yes

Can Be Operated Part Time?: Yes

Skills Required:

You’ll need empathy and patience for counseling sessions with reluctant teens and anxious parents. In addition to the degree(s) discussed above, you may find it to your advantage to be certified as a financial planner or college planner. On the other hand, if you’re a veteran from a college admissions office or you have put several children through college yourself, you may be able to establish a reputation without the certifications.

How Much Can You Earn:

Depending upon your credentials and your experience, as well as the geographic area where you work, you can expect to earn up to $60,000 and more per year fulltime. You should have a college degree, preferably in business or counseling, with continuing education as needed. Education will be your biggest expense in this career choice. Most college planners offer package deals, ranging from $2,000 to $3,000, with a certain amount to be paid up front, the remainder when the application process is completed. Other packages may deal with transfers, dropouts, special testing and various unique situations. You may find that you prefer to bill by the hour, usually from $30 to $50.

Understanding Customers:

Your clients will be both the students and their parents. While the parents will be understandably anxious about the significant outlay of money for your services, they’ll need your self-confidence in reassuring them that your skills are needed. The students may be reluctant at first, but your professional approach can convince them that college planning is the most important process of their young lives. Your brochures and website should offer testimonials and credentials that assure your clients of your abilities.

Marketing Strategy:

Networking among parents’ groups and civic organizations can be very effective – don’t be shy about asking if you can make a brief talk to your local Kiwanis or Rotary Club. Develop a professional flyer that you can leave with civic groups, at the local libraries, and at other community gathering places. An effective website is essential. Cultivate a professional demeanor to instill confidence in clients, and use the power of print advertising in local papers and telephone directories.


As indicated previously, a college degree is an essential, preferably in business, finance or counseling. Additional certifications may help establish your status as an expert in the college planning process. You’ll need a home or commercial office, with computer, fax and appropriate software. A separate office phone line with a toll-free number is also a necessity. You’ll need a webmaster to keep your website current, and a blog as well, but these can be developed as your career takes off. Initially, you should have eye-catching brochures and business cards, and the print advertising already mentioned above.

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