P.N. of Manhasset, NY writes:

My son will be a senior in high school this year, and we are considering enrolling him in an online college planning seminar. The price seems right ($299), and a set of CDs is also available for an additional sum. Any thoughts?

The College Whisperer responds:

It seems that nowadays, almost anything can be done online, including college itself. [When online dentistry arrives, count me in!]

Call me old-fashioned, but when it comes to college planning, there's absolutely nothing like face-to-face, mano-a-mano, up close and personal.

Give and take between student and counselor is an integral part of the process through which the student truly achieves college admission success. Yes, online lectures, guides, and tutorials can point both students and parents in the right direction, but beyond the online interface, most of the online applications (and their CD/DVD counterparts) tend to leave you on your own in the critical steps involved in navigating that road to college.

"How-to" sessions are, indeed, helpful tools, as are comprehensive essential links and resources, compiled to be in one place and always at hand. [Which is why College Connection provides all students with College Cafe, where the resources and links every student needs are never more than a mouse-click away.]

Beyond the rote and the mundane (in other words, the stuff most students and parents already know), online counseling sessions, while often a good source (among many) of resource material, rarely fill the gap between application and admission, leaving most users wanting, if not needing, more.

True, the price is right, but like those "how to get rich" DVDs of infomercial fame, you typically get just about what you pay for, at best, or taken for that $299 (plus shipping and handling), at worst.

Can you find solace, comfort, and, ultimately, admission to the college of choice through online and/or CD/DVD counseling sessions? To be sure, so long as you understand that what you are getting cannot possibly be custom tailored to the needs of the individual student, any more than a suit bought online is likely to be that perfect fit.

College is, to put it lightly, a huge investment -- in time, in life choices, and, of course, in money. When considering college counseling, choose wisely, and always remember, while you don't always get what you pay for, as a general rule, when you buy cheap, you get cheap.

Besides, I always prefer the interaction of live contact, rather than the dull glare of the computer monitor.

The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of The College Whisperer.

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