Why Use an Education Consultant?

An Educational Consultant is a skilled professional who provides counseling to help students and families choose a school, college, or other program that will foster the student’s academic and social growth. Educational consultants can provide a student and family with individual attention, firsthand knowledge of hundreds of educational opportunities, and the time to explore all of the options.

With their extensive knowledge of schools and organizations, educational consultants can broaden the potential choices, and provide vital help in weighing factors such as cost, location and curriculum. With an experienced educational consultant, students and families have the opportunity to explore a wider variety of options and discuss possibilities in a meaningful way.

What to Expect When You Work with an Educational Consultant

Independent educational consultants begin with an evaluation, to help your student identify strengths and weaknesses, as well as educational objectives, choices, and plans.

Testing: When appropriate, the consultant will recommend testing for purposes of psychological or academic assessment. Consultants may either administer these tests themselves, or make a referral to other professionals for testing.

Options: The Independent Educational Consultant will work with your family to consider the full range of educational possibilities, and provide a broad selection of pertinent information for consideration.

Advice: Independent Educational Consultants give students and families unbiased advice and recommendations based on their professional judgment of a student’s needs and abilities. Consultants are compensated directly by their clients and do not receive any compensation from educational institutions.

Most importantly, Independent Educational Consultants will develop a game plan for the student that will help him/her become as successful as possible in the college planning and admissions process.

One way to ensure that an independent educational consultant is ethical is to hire an Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA) member who has been vetted through IECA’s intense application process.

Here are two great resources put together by IECA:

12 Questions to Ask Before Hiring an Independent Educational Consultant

  1. Do you guarantee admission to a school, one of my top choices, or a certain minimum dollar
    value in scholarships? (Do NOT trust any offer of guarantees.)
  2. How do you keep up with new trends, academic changes and evolving campus cultures? How
    often do you get out and visit college, school, and program campuses and meet with admissions
    representatives? (The ONLY way to know about the best matches for you is to be out visiting
    schools regularly—we suggest a minimum of 20 campuses per year.)
  3. Do you belong to any professional associations? (NACAC and IECA are the two associations for
    independent educational consultants with established and rigorous standards for membership.)
  4. Do you attend professional conferences or training workshops on a regular basis to keep up with
    regional and national trends and changes in the law?
  5. Do you ever accept any form of compensation from a school, program, or company in exchange
    for placement or a referral? (They absolutely should not!)
  6. Are all fees involved stated in writing, up front, indicating exactly what services I will receive for
    those fees?
  7. Will you complete the application for admission, re-write my essays, or fill out the financial aid
    forms on my behalf? (No, they should NOT; it is essential that the student be in charge of the
    process and all materials should be a product of the student’s own, best work.)
  8. How long have you been in business as an independent educational consultant (IEC)?
  9. What was your background prior to going into independent educational consulting? What was
    your training and education?
  10. Will you use personal connections to get me in to one of my top choices? (The answer should
    be NO. An IEC doesn’t get you admitted—they help you to demonstrate why you deserve to be
  11. What specialized training do you have (LD, gifted, athletics, arts, etc.)?
  12. Do you adhere to the ethical guidelines for private counseling established by IECA?

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12 Warning Signs that an Independent Educational Consultant is Not Worth Hiring

  1. They promise to use their ‘pull’ or ‘connection’ to secure admission to a particular school or
  2. They guarantee you’ll be accepted into one of your top choices.
  3. They guarantee a certain dollar value in scholarships that are just waiting for you.
  4. They have no formal training, and don’t attend workshops or conferences, but they “helped their
    own child” so they can help yours, too. (You should strive to be admitted based on who you are; admission directors can see through a slick package.)
  5. They tell you not to worry about all the details on the application forms…they’ll take care of those
    for you.
  6. They tell you that while they accept “finders fees” from certain schools and colleges, they would
    never let that influence their suggestions.
  7. They don’t spell out exactly what services you get in exchange for their fee.
  8. They indicate that their background, training, and years of experience are unimportant details not
    worth going into.
  9. They do not visit college campuses, but admission representatives sometimes visit them and
    that’s just as good (or they do not visit campuses but review their catalogs and Web sites, which
    they falsely claim to be just as effective).
  10. They indicate that they will significantly edit the essay to make sure it’s perfect, as if admission
    directors can be fooled.
  11. They haven’t gone through a national vetting process of their background, education, experience,
    references, campus visits, and marketing materials

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