The nation's high school students are well aware that it's never been harder to get into a top college.
Just last year, Yale's acceptance rate hit 6.31 percent, near an all-time low. Princeton offered admission to just 5.5 percent of a record 35,370 applicants and at Harvard, the admission rate fell below 5 percent for the first time ever, to 4.59 percent of applicants securing spots in the Class of 2022.
With competition among college applicants at an all-time high, more families are turning to expensive private consultants, but the number of high school guidance counselors available to students has been steadily dwindling.
Currently, the national student-to-counselor ratio is 482 to 1, according to the National Association for College Admission Counseling.
"Research shows that access to a school counselor can make a significant difference in student persistence/retention, students' postsecondary aspirations and students' likelihood of enrolling in postsecondary education," the association said.
That's particularly clear at Southland College Prep Charter High School in suburban Chicago.
Robert Lane is the assistant to the CEO and the school's only college counselor. Yet, he said his approach has resulted in a 100 percent college acceptance rate, including getting graduates into top universities such as Princeton, Stanford and Yale. (This year there are 117 members of the class of 2019 who will graduate in May and so far every member of every one of Southland's first five graduating classes has applied to college — and every member of every class was accepted.)
"We are not only finding that right fit, but we make sure they are selecting school where they'll graduate in four years," he said.