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The Ultimate Guide to Student Search Service by CollegeBoard

Starting or expanding an Independent Educational Consulting (IEC) business involves equipping oneself with the right tools to guide students effectively. One such tool gaining prominence is the College Board's Student Search Service. Designed for IECs and the students they guide, this service opens doors to over 1,900 four-year colleges and scholarship programs. Let's explore why IECs should consider integrating this resource and examine its features, benefits, and potential drawbacks.

An Overview of Student Search

What are some of its features?

The Student Search Service is a voluntary platform connecting students with colleges and scholarship programs actively seeking individuals with specific characteristics. By opting in during SAT registration, through the College Board website, or on assessment answer sheets, students grant permission to share their names and limited information with participating institutions. Eligible organizations and college counselors then use this information to identify potential fits based on graduation date, GPA and intended major.

How does it work?

Participation is entirely voluntary, and students and counselors can opt-out at any time. The service gives students insights into colleges they may not have considered and offers information on application processes, financial aid, and campus life. The tool doesn't share sensitive information such as disability, income, social security number, or test scores.

What are some of the Pros and Cons of Student Search?


1. Expanded Options: The Student Search Service exposes students to colleges they may not have discovered independently, broadening their horizons and enhancing their understanding of available options.

2. Increased Admission Offers: Students contacted through this service receive, on average, 29% more offers of college admission, showcasing the potential for expanded opportunities.

3. Scholarship Opportunities: The tool acts as a bridge, connecting students with scholarship partners and colleges that use the data to identify candidates for their scholarship programs.

4. Privacy Protection: Sensitivity to privacy concerns is evident, with assurances that certain personal information, including disability status and Social Security numbers, remains confidential.

5. No Cost to Students: The Student Search Service is free for students, ensuring accessibility without financial barriers.


1. Time Lag: It may take a few weeks for colleges and scholarship programs to reach out, potentially creating an initial waiting period for students seeking prompt responses.

2. Potential Unwanted Communications: While participation is voluntary, students may continue to receive communications from colleges even after opting out, requiring additional steps to manage such unwanted contacts.

3. Limited Information Control: Although certain sensitive information is protected, students must share general details, potentially raising concerns about data control and usage.

4. Dependence on College Board: As a service provided by the College Board, the Student Search Service's effectiveness is tied to the credibility and practices of this organization.

5. Organizational Access Costs: While the service is free for students, participating colleges pay to use it, potentially influencing the selection and number of institutions reaching out to students.

Is it Worth It?

The Student Search Service is a valuable tool for IECs and their students in weighing the pros and cons. Its potential to uncover hidden opportunities, increase admission offers, and connect students with scholarships makes it a worthwhile addition to the college exploration toolkit. The commitment to privacy and the absence of direct student costs further contribute to its appeal.

Navigating the complex college admissions landscape requires strategic tools, and the College Board's Student Search Service is a beneficial resource for IECs and students alike. As technology continues to shape the education sector, leveraging such services ensures that IECs provide comprehensive guidance, opening doors to many opportunities for their students.

counselor who can give students and parents the very best advice.   

Bonus — the Lumiere Research Scholar Program!

If you’d like to recommend a rigorous research program open to high schoolers, you may want to consider the Lumiere Research Scholar Program, a selective online high school program for students founded by researchers at Harvard and Oxford. Last year, we had over 4000 students apply for 500 spots in the program! You can find the application form here. You can also reach out to us at to know more, or to have a chat about possible collaborations!

Also check out the Lumiere Research Inclusion Foundation, a non-profit research program for talented, low-income students. Last year, we had 150 students on full need-based financial aid!

Tenzing Dolma is a Masters student specializing in research following the Nechung Oracle and the historical, religious, and cognitive approaches to its presence. She has a bachelors in Neuroscience from Loyola University Chicago and is currently completing her graduate studies at Columbia University. She hopes to help students find their passions through access to programs and organizations the same way she found hers!

Image Source: CollegeBoard logo



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