On Monday, Nov. 11, we’ll take time to thank all of our veterans for their service. But we’ll do more than thank them – we are offering a 15% discount on all of our college consulting services to any active duty or retired military personnel! This offer is valid through November 30, 2019.
The traditional image of the college experience features freshmen showing up for orientation in August and that same group of students graduating together four years later. Most students would prefer to do college this way because of the simplicity of remaining in one school and the comfort of sharing the adventure with the same set of friends. But preferences aside, there are compelling reasons for you to consider earning an Associate’s degree from a community college and then transferring to a four-year college for your Bachelor’s degree.
Update on Community Colleges
Community colleges are no longer viewed as a last resort for those who didn’t get into a four-year school. Whether you’re looking for a less expensive alternative, a better learning environment, an opportunity to explore different subjects, or a school that’s within commuting distance, students who attend community colleges realize many benefits.
Community colleges are public institutions operated by a county or city. According to the American Association of Community Colleges, more than 13 million students, or nearly half of all undergraduates in the U.S., attend a community college. There are more than 1,700 community colleges granting Associate’s degrees.
In the past, community colleges were considered to be less academically rigorous than four-year colleges. But much has changed: Academic standards at community colleges have improved, as have the credentials of faculty. Most community colleges now require that faculty have a Master’s degree or, more often, a Ph.D. in their fields.
Community colleges don’t receive research grants, the lifeblood of research universities. In universities, professors are hired mainly for their qualifications to conduct advanced research, so the time they have available for teaching is limited. This results in large class sizes for entry-level courses and instructors who often are only graduate students. At community colleges, the sole focus of professors is teaching. Because classes are small, teachers provide students with more personal attention and can adopt more innovative teaching techniques.
Community College Students are Valued
Many high-achieving community college students assume they won’t be accepted as transfers
to selective four-year institutions, so they don’t even apply. In fact, transfers from community colleges comprise 7% of the upperclassmen in the 100 most selective colleges in the country, according to a report by the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, and this percentage is growing.
To encourage more applicants from community colleges, many four-year schools now actively seek them out. College administrators welcome them for adding diversity to the student body, enhancing campus culture, and replacing students who dropped out in their first two years. These motives are supplemented by data showing that community college students who transfer to four-year institutions graduate at a higher rate than incoming freshmen or transfers from four-year colleges. And the students admitted aren’t just a few superstars. In a recent year, 84% of the nation’s community colleges transferred at least one graduate to the 100 most selective four-year institutions, according to the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation.
Reasons to Go to Community College First
For those who seek a Bachelor’s degree, there are several reasons why you should consider going from high school to a community college and then to a four-year college for your Bachelor’s degree.
1. Financial Advantages: The average cost of annual tuition and fees at four-year institutions in the 2018-2019 school year was $35,676 at private colleges, $9,716 for in-state residents at public colleges, and $21,629 for out-of-state students at public colleges, according to data from U.S. News & World Report. Room and board expenses add to these amounts. Student debt in the U.S. now exceeds $1.5 trillion, and it’s obvious that college debt can become a crushing burden on students. In comparison, community colleges cost $3,660 on average per year.
One reason for lower tuition at community college is that they’re more utilitarian. There’s less infrastructure and fewer extracurricular programs. The very amenities that make students prefer four-year colleges also increase overhead and, hence, increase tuition. There’s another cost-saving incentive in that students who attend community college can live at home and commute to their campus.
2. Improved Academic Credentials: There are high school students who, for a variety of reasons, don’t perform at the academic level required for admission to the colleges they aspire to attend. The best way for them to demonstrate their ability to succeed at that level is to complete an Associate’s degree program with an excellent academic record.
3. Transfer of Credits: A number of states have credit transfer agreements (articulation agreements) between community colleges and the public university system. These agreements enable students to take community college courses that satisfy core requirements at the four-year institutions. After completing their Associate’s degree, students can transfer to a four-year state institution with all credits intact.
4. Support Services: Community colleges offer services that suit their students, such as improving study skills, remedial math and writing classes, academic advising, tutoring, and admissions counseling.
Klaar College Consulting takes an approach to admissions counseling that’s custom-fitted to you as an individual, and to your circumstances. After learning about you, we may advise you that you would benefit from attending a community college. If you do so, we’ll assist you in transferring to a four-year college upon graduation — one that suits your needs, preferences, and goals. With our strategic guidance and expert assistance, you’ll raise your competitive edge as a transfer applicant.
For several decades, taking the SAT or ACT exam has been a rite of passage for college-bound high school students. As a student, you understand the need to perform well on the exams because your score is among the factors that determine whether you’ll be admitted to the colleges of your choice. Your scores, along with GPA and class rank, comprise your academic record — the dominant factor in admissions.
Because most institutions accept both SAT and ACT scores, there’s no reason to prefer one exam to the other. This leaves the choice up to you. Selecting the right one matters in your college admission plan.
Circumstances That May Affect Your Choice
The two exams are very similar but they do have differences. Before we consider them, let’s review a few circumstances that may make your choice easier.
- Test-Optional – Over 1,000 institutions have adopted test–optional policies under which you don’t need to submit exam scores to a college unless you choose to. However, Klaar College Consulting recommends that you take one of the exams even if it isn’t necessary. Then, compare your score to the previous freshman classes of each college that interests you. If your score might help you gain admission at some of them, then submit it to those schools.
- State Requirements – There are 21 states (see Table A, below) that require 11th graders to take the SAT or ACT to assess academic progress. State education administrators observed that juniors were studying for so many standardized tests that it inhibited their ability to learn their coursework. Since many students were taking the SAT or ACT for college admission, the states decided to use them for assessment instead of another exam. We advise students in states that administer the ACT for assessment to take the ACT for score improvement if necessary. Likewise for students in SAT states.
Table A, below, lists the states that administer the SAT or ACT to juniors for academic assessment purposes:
Table A: States That Use SAT or ACT for Assessment
|District of Columbia||Mississippi|
|New Hampshire||North Carolina|
- Take Both Exams – There are students who take both exams and then submit their best scores. This is an extreme measure but perhaps not as extreme as you may think. As mentioned above, the exams are similar and, for the most part, studying for one is studying for the other. There are those exceptional students who can study for both exams without impacting their GPA, but the great majority of students are advised to stick with one exam.
Key Differences Between the Exams
1. The SAT has a 20-question section in which you aren’t allowed to use a calculator. The answers are to be derived by reasoning. The ACT allows a calculator on all Math questions.
2. The ACT has more questions about geometry than the SAT. The ACT also has a few questions in other areas that the SAT doesn’t, such as logarithms, matrices, and trigonometry.
3. The SAT provides you with math formulas but the ACT doesn’t. If you take the ACT, you need to memorize formulas that may be on the test.
4. On the ACT, Math accounts for one-fourth of your total score. On the SAT, Math accounts for half of your total score.
5. The tests differ in the number of answers provided for multiple-choice questions. ACT Math gives you five possible answers. SAT Math gives you four.
6. The ACT Math questions are all multiple choice. The SAT is mostly multiple choice, but has questions for which you write in the answers.
Time: The total time allowed for the exams is almost equal, but the SAT gives more time to answer each question because there are fewer of them.
Science: The ACT devotes a section to science but the SAT doesn’t. The SAThas science questions, but they’re interspersed through the exam. There’s a separate science score for the ACT but not for the SAT.
Essays: If you take the essay, your approach to writing it will differ. On the SAT, you’ll have a passage to read and analyze. Your essay will examine the author’s argument using evidence and reasoning. You won’t be arguing your personal opinion. On the ACT, your task is different. You’ll read a passage about an issue and then analyze various perspectives on it. But, unlike the SAT, you’ll incorporate your own opinion in your answer.
Other Methods of Comparison
Perhaps the best way to compare the exams is to take practice tests. The SAT and ACT organizations make practice tests available as do many test prep publications. Compare your results and decide if there’s a clear winner.
Another way to pick the right test is to respond to these statements as true or false.
- I have trouble with geometry and trigonometry.
- I can solve certain math problems without a calculator.
- I do well on math tests.
- I find it hard to memorize math formulas.
- I can answer certain math questions in my own words.
- The sciences are not my best subjects.
- I can analyze a passage easier than I can articulate my opinion.
- I find that short time constraints cause me anxiety.
- I have no trouble citing evidence to back up my positions.
If most of your answers are “True,” then the SAT exam is better for you. If most of your answers are “False,” then the ACT is better.
If you’d like help deciding whether the SAT or ACT is the right choice for you, please email me at [email protected] or call me on 803-487-9777.
Most experts consider junior year to be the most consequential in college admissions, and this may well be true. But senior year is nearly as important since it’s the year that you finalize and submit your applications. In both years, you face many choices that have ramifications beyond college and into your career.
It’s not just your years as an upperclassman that count. All four years of high school contribute to your ultimate success. The more you accomplish in the first two years, the less your burden will be in the last two years. The stress can be intense coming down the stretch, so we advise that you plan for each year of your high school career so that, at its culmination, you’re confident and looking forward to what’s ahead.
1. Start Strong Your Freshman Year
A study by the Brookings Institute found that 9th grade is the most critical year in the formation of a student’s potential. Your academic performance as a freshman sets the tone for the rest of your education.
A. Start Out with a High GPA
Freshman year counts toward your cumulative GPA and has an impact on your final class rank. It’s great for your GPA to be an rising trajectory in junior year, but it’s even better if your record has been so excellent since 9th grade that a rise isn’t even needed.. A high GPA that doesn’t need to be raised in junior year avoids much of the stress that can burden you as a junior.
B. Meet with Your Guidance Counselor
Guidance counselors play an essential role in your college admissions campaign. They’re busy people, so the responsibility is on you to schedule meetings with them. As a freshman, you can start a discussion about your admissions plan. At this point, getting to know the counselor and giving them the opportunity to know you is your main objective. You’ll be in contact with them often in the coming years.
C. Make the Honor Roll
Making the honor roll in 8th grade will give you the opportunity to take honors courses in 9th and 10th grades. Success in honors courses is likely to enable you to take AP courses as a sophomore and upperclassman. The more AP classes that you successfully complete with a grade of 4 or 5 on the exam, the more likely that you’ll be accepted by the colleges that you target. You may also earn college credits at a number of schools.
D. Begin Study in a Foreign Language
Most selective schools require applicants to have two to four years of a single foreign language. Freshman year is the time to commit to the language that you’ll study through high school.
E. Experiment with Extracurricular Activities
Immerse yourself in several activities that appeal to your interests. Join clubs, organizations, and intramural teams as you see fit. You’ll need time to identify those activities that truly interest you and for which you may also have an aptitude.
F. Use Summer to Your Advantage
The summer after your freshman year is a great time to find a job. If you’re still too young, you can volunteer for a non-profit that appeals to you. A productive activity is to prepare for the PSAT exam. You may wish to begin to research into which types of colleges represent “best-fit” schools for you.
2. Take Tests Your Sophomore Year
In your sophomore year, we recommend that you select honors classes in your strongest subjects. You should also assess your extracurricular activities and drop those in which you’re not too interested. Try new ones if necessary. Refine your admissions plan to focus on real choices that you’ll need to make as an upperclassman.
A. Take the PSAT
Taking the PSAT prepares you for the SAT in junior year and helps you identify your weak areas so that you can work to improve in them. If you release your name, address, and email to colleges, you’ll receive marketing communications from them.
B. Practice for the ACT
Pursue the PLAN Assessment Program offered by American College Testing if you plan to take the ACT exam instead of the SAT. This program assesses the efficacy your study habits, your academic progress to date, and the intensity of your interests. It also prepares you for the ACT exam itself.
Become familiar with college entrance requirements, especially at schools you may feel are potential best-fits. The sooner you know this the better prepared you’ll be. Your guidance counselor’s office will have information about admission requirements, as will libraries, college websites, magazine rankings, and articles in the mainstream media.
D. Proceed on Your Academic Path
Work with your guidance counselor to make sure that you’re enrolled in the courses that best suit your educational goals. You’ll also want to be sure that you’ll have all of your graduation requirements, except senior English, completed by the end of junior year.
E. Use Summer to Add to Your Admissions Credentials
The summer after sophomore year is a good time to find a job. Stead employment every summer appeals to colleges. Use your spare time to prepare for the SAT or ACT exam. You may want to take an elective summer course at your high school or at a local college in the field that you’re considering as a major. Admissions officials will look positively on this as an indication of your desire to learn and work hard.
3. Steps to Take in Junior Year
Your junior year is the most important in your admissions campaign because it’s the last full year of high school that colleges will see complete data when you apply. It represents you as a more mature student. Colleges use it as source data in their predictive models to project how well you’ll perform as a college student.
A. Start on Your College List
Establish a set of criteria to guide you in building the list of schools to which you’ll apply. Your criteria can include factors such as the size of the student body, faculty-to-student ratio, total annual expenses, core curriculum, majors, degrees granted, geographic location, the nature of the local community, campus setting, campus amenities, work-study programs, and any other factors that you may consider important. By the end of junior year, you’ll narrow the list down to a predetermined number of schools. You should plan to visit as many of them as possible over the next year.
B. Plan for Exams
You’ll be taking the SAT or the ACT and you’ll probably be taking AP exams. Register and mark the dates. Juniors should take the SAT or ACT the in spring so you can take them again in the fall of their senior year if you need to improve your scores. Don’t take them too early to “get it over with.”
C. Hone Your Abilities in Extracurricular Activities
By now, you should know which activities you’ll list on your applications. Colleges look for commitment and depth, so just one activity is all you need if it fits that description. If you can attain a leadership role or garner an award in your activity, so much the better. Your talent or skill can serve you well, especially if it’s in a niche that colleges seek to fill.
D. Learn Your Options for Financial Aid
Review the financial resources that will be available to you with your family. Learn about financial aid from public sources, individual colleges, and corporations. High-school sponsored financial aid nights, independent financial aid counselors, and the media will be helpful in your research.
E. Register for the Optimal Curriculum for Senior Year
Meet with your guidance counselor to select classes for your senior year. Make sure that you’ll graduate with all the courses that you’ll need for admission to specific schools on your list. Colleges consider the rigor of the curriculum of seniors as well as their grades when they’re available.
F. Reach Out to Letter of Recommendation Writers
Most requests for letters of recommendation are directed to guidance counselors and a small subset of teachers. These individuals receive an enormous number of requests. If you wish to obtain a letter from one of them, ask them as a junior so that they’ll have notice before the fall semester crush. Be sure that they’ll have only positive comments and that you won’t be “Damned by faint praise.” You can also elicit a letter from a coach, the leader of one of your organizations, or an employer, as long as they know you well.
G. Visit Colleges
Campus visits require planning, especially if you wish to arrange for an admissions interview. Contact the admissions office to set up an interview, a guided tour, and a meeting with a faculty member and a student in the department of your planned major. There will be opportunities later to visit campuses, but it’s a good idea to start as a junior, especially with schools where you may want to apply through an Early Admissions program.
H. Make the Best of your Junior Summer
Admissions officials are impressed by applicants who have worked within their planned field of study as interns or employees. If you have an opportunity to secure such a position, then by all means do so. It’s also time to start working on your essays and personal statements.
If possible, take a summer college course in your planned major to demonstrate your commitment to your planned field of study and to prove that you’re capable of college work.
4. How to Master Your Senior Year!
Seniors who plan to attend college are very busy people! What has seemed far in the future is now upon you — crunch time to prepare applications that will secure your admission to your best-fit schools.
A. Finalize Your College List
For most students, the final list should be pared down to a predetermined number of schools. With too few schools on the list, you won’t be spreading your risk sufficiently. With too many schools, you’ll dissipate your focus and effort. A good number to reach for is 8 to 10 colleges that are a good Fit and Match for you.
B. Paying for It
When finalizing your college list, ask a very important question — can you handle it financially? October 1 is the first day that a student applying for financial aid can access, complete, and submit the FAFSA and CSS/PROFILE forms. These forms require a great deal of effort by you and your parents. The deadlines vary by college, but a head start is helpful.
C. Write Your Essays
Allow plenty of time to brainstorm topics, outline, draft, and polish your essays and personal statements. This is crucial, especially if you are applying to schools that require supplemental essays. Essay questions are broad, which can make it difficult to know how to relate the topic to your life. Obtain input from others on your topics and approach. Be wary of having too many adult editors.
D. Complete and Submit your Application
Work hard on your applications. If you’re applying for Early Admission to any schools, the usual deadline is November 1. For Regular Decision, the deadline is usually January 2.
You may be able to choose which application platform to use. If possible, use only one. The Common App is accepted by nearly 900 colleges and many schools that accept other apps also accept the Common App.
E. Submit Senior Fall Semester Grades
As soon they’re available, send your fall semester grades to the schools to which you’ve applied. This will be after you’ve submitted the application, but admissions officers want to be able to incorporate the data into their decision.
F. The Decisions of Your Colleges
Acceptance, rejection and waitlist letters arrive between late February and early April. You usually have until April 30 to accept an offer of admission. Don’t put too much faith in waitlists. Among the colleges that use them, only a small percentage of waitlisted students ever receive an acceptance letter.
G. Make Your Decision
If you’re accepted to more than one school, weigh all options. Talk with parents, other family members, teachers, mentors, and friends. Examine available financial aid and the total expenses at each school. If possible, visit the campuses of your two finalists to compare them closely.
H. Final Steps
Colleges have a deposit deadline of May 1st. Once senior year is over, send your final high school transcript to the college you’ll be attending. These grades may help you secure a scholarship or qualify for a competitive academic program. If you took AP classes during senior year and have passed the national exams with a score of 4 or 5, you may be able to earn college credits and skip a required course.
Seeing the number of steps above, you, as a student or parent, might think that this is more than enough to do to prepare for admission to college. In fact, this is a partial list consisting of major tasks. Lesser tasks requiring little time have been omitted. But, just because they’re minor doesn’t mean these small tasks can be omitted.
The best way to accomplish all tasks that will lead to acceptance at your best-fit colleges is to hire Klaar College Consulting. Dr. Charlotte Klaar takes a no-nonsense, no-excuses approach as she works with students to make the entire college admissions process, including college search, application completion, and essay-writing, a delightful adventure of self-discovery and personal growth. Along the way, she helps students learn to make more informed decisions and to own the results.
Navigating the high seas of college admissions can be intimidating and stressful for busy families. Because it can overwhelm, many students don’t fully explore their options, an approach that often culminates in attending a college that isn’t right for them. Finding and being accepted by a college that is right can be the difference between success and failure in achieving a student’s educational goals.
Without expert guidance, students tend not to plan and prepare adequately for college admissions, which increases the chances of a negative outcome. That’s why it’s beneficial to retain a private college admissions consultant such as Dr. Charlotte Klaar of Klaar College Consulting. In this post, we’ll examine the value an Independent Educational Consultant (IEC) brings to students and families.
High schools employ guidance counselors, but few of these professionals can provide significant time in one-on-one college counseling with each student. With an average ratio of 800 students to each counselor, public high schools simply can’t be expected to provide the level of service that a private IEC offers. Nor does the 40-1 ratio of private high schools allow for adequate individualized attention.
IEC’s provide one-on-one expertise
In contrast, your IEC is able to devote the time necessary for a one-on-one cooperative effort. This gives you greater insight into the variety and complexity of the available choices. Your IEC’s advice is based on he or she learning about your GPA, test scores, strengths, weaknesses, passions, interests, talents, skills, experiences, available finances, and educational goals. The IEC then creates a profile of you for use going forward. Among other things, this enables the IEC to offer valuable advice on your selection of a set of target schools that best fit your profile where you’ll focus your admissions campaign.
Any campaign needs a strategy, and your college admissions campaign is no exception. Colleges seek diversified student populations. To satisfy a college’s desired student profile, you should, with the assistance of your IEC, develop an effective way to position yourself for acceptance. Your unique character and overarching interests will be melded into a positive image that impresses admissions officers.
This image will be reflected in each of the components of your admissions package; essays, interviews, letters of recommendation, and the application itself, so that your core message is strong and consistent. If you have a viable “hook” that will increase your chances of acceptance at your targeted schools, your IEC will help you to develop and use it to your maximum advantage.
Many factors go into acceptance criteria
The acceptance criteria of colleges include much more than your academic record. Your essays, personal statements, interviews, extracurricular activities, volunteer efforts, personal interests, skills, talents, and legacy status are among the non-academic factors taken into account. Your IEC assists you in communicating the core message that drives your case for admission in each component. The message is succinct and thematically coherent.
Two crucial elements of your admissions package are interviews and essays. They’re your best opportunities to communicate your core message, and in so doing to reveal the unique individual you are. Your IEC will coach you on the right responses to the typical questions posed by college interviewers seeking to learn more about you. IEC’s also advise on how to conduct yourself. You’ll enter each interview with confidence, which will help your case immensely.
Since not all colleges weigh feedback from interviews, essays (and personal statements) are the most important part of your application after your academic record. Essays can truly be the difference between whether or not you’re admitted to a college. Your IEC is an expert at helping you select topics and craft excellent essays that will convey your core message and raise your profile above your peers.
Finances are another critical factor
Another critical factor considered by your IEC is the amount that your family can afford to spend on your education. The average cost of a college education is now $29,400 per year for a 4-year public institution and $48, 510 per year for a 4-year private institution. For those families that don’t qualify for need-based financial assistance, there are three alternatives: win a merit-based scholarship; pay the ongoing costs annually: or go into debt with student loans. Whatever approach or combination of approaches that a family chooses, financing a college education is nearly always stressful.
IEC’s help families understand the financial aid process. Each scholarship, grant, or loan program has its own set of requirements and deadlines. Navigating financing programs and completing the forms required is, in itself, as complex as gaining admission. We’ll consider the contributions that your IEC can make regarding financial aid more closely in a future post.
There is a clear advantage to be gained by getting an early start on your admissions campaign. If your family has wisely retained an IEC for you when you’re still an underclassman, you’ll receive advice in selecting the courses that will best advance your plans. He or she will guide you on the appropriate AP courses to take in light of your educational goals, keeping in mind that you shouldn’t let AP courses result in a decline in your GPA.
As an underclassman, your IEC will advise you in selecting extracurricular activities and summer internships that will further your case for admission to your targeted schools. Your IEC’s recommendations will be designed to provide evidence of the value that you’ll bring to a college’s student body and community. You’ll also be guided on standardized test selection, preparation, and scheduling. Your IEC will advise you on the scores that you should strive to achieve.
Colleges aren’t commodities. Just as you’re unique, each college is unique. The extent of the differentiation between seemingly similar colleges can be subtle but substantial. IEC’s frequently visit college campuses and interact with admissions officials. A major advantage to retaining the services of an IEC is that they can apply their first-hand knowledge of the unique characteristics and priorities of most of the colleges that interest you.
IEC’s stay current on new admissions consulting techniques, methods, and case histories through participation in a variety of professional associations. These include the three largest: National Association for College Admissions Counseling (NACAC), Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA), and Higher Education Consultants Association (HECA). In addition to events, publications, and member services, the associations provide training and certification in consulting specialties such as AICEP’s Certified Educational Planner and International Specialist Designation. A number of top-tier universities offer online and classroom courses to IECs and award degrees and certificates in admissions-related fields.
Your admissions campaign requires developing several components that are presented through different media. Careful planning is a necessity. From your positioning strategy to the components of your application, an expert IEC will provide sound solutions tailored to your specific issues. Attaining admission to your chosen colleges is best assured through a committed, cooperative effort by you and your professional IEC.
No segment of our society is more appalled by the damage done to the reputation of the college admissions consulting field by recent scandals than those of us who have dedicated our professional lives to it. Independent Educational Consultants (IEC’S), also known as College Admissions Consultants, have had a shadow cast upon us by bad actors who have engaged in illegal conduct. Most college consultants are ethical, qualified experts upon whom students and families can rely for valuable service throughout the stressful and complex admissions process.
When the Varsity Blues scandal was reported a few months ago, we all saw an example of the worst that can happen in our profession. Federal indictments were issued against 53 individuals who participated in a scheme masterminded by an unethical consultant and abetted by his clients and a few college insiders. They gamed the system so that selective and highly selective institutions, from which the students might otherwise have been rejected, were defrauded into admitting them. Although such incidents are extremely rare, IEC’s have been in a defensive posture since the story broke.
Then, in July, just months after the news about Varsity Blues, ProPublica reported that another fraudulent scheme had been identified in Chicago. Parents, working with unethical IEC’s and other advisors, deluded public agencies and colleges in order to receive need-based scholarships to which they were not entitled. They accomplished this by assigning legal guardianship of their children late in high school to a relative or friend. “The new guardianship status then allowed the students to declare themselves financially independent of their families so they could qualify for federal, state and university aid.” according to the ProPublica article that broke the story.
There are two salient facts about higher education in 2019. First, admission to selective and highly selective institutions is extremely competitive, with less than 15 percent of applicants being accepted at the best-known schools. Second, tuition and fees are so high that they severely stress the budgets of many families who don’t qualify for need-based aid and cause many to go deeply into debt.
These conditions don’t come close to justifying the conduct noted above, but the temptation for unscrupulous college consultants and their clients to cut corners is obviously there. So, as a society, how can we avert a surge in such conduct in the future? The best answer to this question seems obvious. We should mandate the licensing of IEC’s!
Families need a standard to trust
Families need to trust in the integrity and expertise of IEC’s to guide them successfully through the maze of the admissions process. Parents will pay reasonable fees for guidance during this important transitional phase in their child’s education. They have a right to feel secure about the ethics and expertise of their chosen consultant.
Unfortunately, the status quo in the IEC field is that anyone, anywhere can set up a website, print business cards and brochures, and recruit clients for college admissions and admission-related services. It doesn’t matter if their credentials and experience are inappropriate. It only matters that they can convince prospective clients that they’re qualified.
Let’s put this in perspective. Below in Table A is a sample list of professions that require a license to be issued directly or indirectly by a public agency in order for individuals to offer their services to the public.
Table A: Professions Requiring a License in Order to Practice
Medical Doctor Building Contractor Public Accountant
Registered Nurse Cosmetologist Practical Nurse
Pharmacist Barbers Physical Therapist
Attorney Electrician HVAC Mechanic
Dentist Plumbers Tractor-Trailer Driver
Teacher Clinical Psychologist Real Estate Broker/Agent
Veterinarian Paralegal Financial Advisor/Stockbroker
Land Surveyor Medical Lab Technician Hairdresser
Civil Engineer Massage Therapist Home Inspectors/Engineer
Manicurist Pipefitter/Steamfitter Pharmacy Technician
Acupuncturist Radiologic Technician Occupational Therapist
School Bus Driver Chiropractor Dental Hygienist/Assistant
Court Reporter Private Detective Veterinary Technician
Professions requiring a license include some that you interact with frequently and others most people need only rarely, if ever. Whenever you may need them, you’re safe to assume that people in these professions are qualified by the fact that they’ve met the requirements to be licensed. According to a study conducted by The Brookings Institute, nearly 30 percent of people now working in the United States require a license in order to perform their jobs.
Look for professional memberships
Families are forced to use other means to assess the ethics and qualifications of an IEC in the absence of a license. Membership in one or more of the three largest professional associations is an important indicator. These are the National Association of College Admissions Counselors (NACAC), the Higher Education Consultants Association (HECA), and the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA). These associations are communities of scrupulous IEC professionals who have established ethical standards that members must practice. Details can be found here: NACAC, IECA, HECA.
Since membership in these associations is voluntary, and IECs can legally work without being part of any organization offering oversight, we reiterate that IEC’s should require a license. Since most IEC’s operate in multiple states through the Internet, a Federal agency, in consultation with the organizations listed above, is the most appropriate licensor. At the very least, state-by-state licensure would let consumers know that the individual has met certain criteria.
In a future post, we’ll outline the steps that can be taken by interested parties to promote a licensing requirement for IEC’s along the lines of the requirements for financial advisors.
Colleges and universities are reexamining their current admissions practices to remedy flaws that make them susceptible to fraud. Meanwhile, our focus at Klaar College Consulting is to make you, as parents and students, fully aware of the strict ethics of our approach to college admissions consulting services and our qualifications to help you succeed in accomplishing your educational goals.
Parents don’t hire me because I promise to get their students into prestigious schools. In fact, the only promise I make is to help students find the best school for his or her needs – academically, socially and financially. And, since entering this profession in 1995, I’ve helped hundreds of kids get accepted and graduate from college.
One student I worked with was Gabe, an intelligent young man with learning differences.
He had been attending a music preparatory program at a respected college in his hometown. The college wanted him as an undergraduate student, and he wanted to go there to be close to home. He was concerned about moving out of his comfort zone. However, his parents wanted him to think bigger and grow musically. I showed him other music programs and how they didn’t need to be far away.
“He didn’t want a large school or to be too far from home, she helped direct him to the right program. He ended up at Catholic University of America. It wasn’t his first choice, but when he did the first piano audition they called him, and got him scholarships,” said his Mom.
How did that work out for Gabe?
“Gabe graduated last year and is doing his Masters in Piano Performance, also at CUA, so she (Dr. Klaar) really helped him make the best choice for him (perfect school size, location, great piano teachers…). He felt comfortable enough to not apply for any support and found his own way of studying and made it through college successfully (Cum Laude and Dean’s list seven semesters out of eight!)” Gabe’s Mom reported recently.
Hearing that brought tears to my eyes. That’s why I’m passionate about what I do. I understand the importance of taking the time to get to know students and their families well enough to create a college career path for each student’s unique goals and strengths.
Let’s face it, the whole college admissions process can stressful for parents and kids. One of the roles I play is to act as a buffer between you and your student.
I use a friendly but no-nonsense, no-excuses style to work with students to help make the college search, application and essay process a delightful adventure of self-discovery and growth. Along the way, I help students learn to make more informed decisions and to own the process.
That’s why students trust me, respect my knowledge and experience and work hard to meet their assignments and deadlines.
My knowledge and experience is hard-earned; I belong to all of the top College Consultant professional organizations, and was the third college consultant to be honored with the Steven R. Antonoff Award for Professional Achievement at the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA) Spring Conference in Boston, MA in 2016.
The award was created to recognize an IECA professional who has distinguished him or herself by their outstanding contributions to the profession of independent educational consulting.
I also keep my professional knowledge up-to-date by visiting colleges nationwide, attending conferences and keeping up on changes in this profession.
So, if a college consultant promises to get your child into a certain college, or a top-ranked college, take a good look at their professional background. The actions taken by the educational consultant at the center of the Varsity Blues case are in direct contrast to IECA, HECA, and NACAC, which specifically bar admission guarantees and emphasize truthful, accurate application materials that are the student’s own work.
Every college is a good college for some students, and what a student does once they get to college is far more important than the college name on the diploma.
My professional memberships:
- Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA)
- Higher Education Consultants Association (HECA)
- National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC)
- American Institute of Certified Educational Planners
- Southern Association for College Admission Counseling
- National College Advocacy Group (NCAG)
- National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC)
- York County Chamber of Commerce
Other professional qualifications
I hold a BA in liberal studies from the University of the State of New York, a teaching certificate from William Paterson University, a MS in interdisciplinary science studies from Johns Hopkins University, and a PhD in general psychology from Capella University. My graduate work was focused in the area of family psychology and I’m well-versed in the issues facing teens and their parents.
For resources to help students with Autism, visit this page of our website.
This week’s events surrounding college admissions saddens me greatly. Not only because of the illegality of it, but also because of the message it sent to the multitude of highly qualified students who have applied to their schools of choice and were denied without being given a valid reason.
Frankly, I have never thought that “We got too many qualified applicants” was enough of a response. There are so many aspects of this situation that it is hard to hone in on just a few. Let me try.
The perpetrator was not a member of any of the recognized professional organizations who would have policed his activities. Each of the organizations to which I belong have issued statements of condemnation:
The National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) statement says: “Admission and counseling professionals understand and have valued ethical behavior as stated in our Code of Ethics and Professional Practices for well over 80 years,” said Stefanie Niles, NACAC president and vice president for enrollment and communications at Ohio Wesleyan University. “We strive to ensure that all students are treated equitably throughout the process,” he added.
The Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA) and its members are committed to helping families find the most appropriate college for their students and assist families in navigating the application process.
IECA members are professionals who understand and adhere to high ethical standards and follow a comprehensive code of ethics in all their interactions with clients and institutions. They are compensated by and work exclusively on behalf of their client families.
The Higher Education Consultants Association (HECA) similarly discussed the code of ethics which members must uphold. It adds: As the only network of independent educational consultants focused exclusively on supporting high school students in their search for the right fit college, HECA members create greater access to opportunity and change lives.
What is the message being sent to young people in these cases? I am most concerned by the message that these parents have given their children is that:
- The student is not worthy without cheating!
- That unless the student attends a prestigious school, the parent is disappointed in them.
- Cheating is OK.
- You can get anything you want by lying and paying for it no matter what it does to others.
- Hard work does not matter; only privilege matters.
These are all terrible, harmful messages.
My advice to parents, based on my more than two decades of experience as a Certified Educational Planner are:
1. When choosing an educational consultant, be sure to check the person’s membership and standing in these organizations. Unaffiliated consultants are neither vetted nor monitored.
2. Parents don’t get your hands into all the things your students produce. When you do that, you’re undermining the confidence of your child. You’re sending the message: “Without me, you cannot be successful.”
3. Ignore whatever hype is around you and do what is best for your student.
4. Really hear what your student is saying about the kind of future he or she wants.
5. Applaud every success and acknowledge every failure. Without the latter, the former never happens. Don’t rescue your student! He or she must learn how to clean up his own messes and learn that there are consequences to her actions or inactions. If you are always in the middle, they have someone to blame other than themselves!
6. Acknowledge that life isn’t fair.
Why hire a genuine college professional:
Parents hire me so that their student will have the time to develop the self-awareness they need to complete the college search and application process. With my professional guidance they’ll do so in a planned and deliberative manner.
In much the same way as baking a cake, it cannot be rushed and takes more than the 15 – 30 minutes that students get in their high schools to work through the myriad of issues.
I spend between 20 and 30 hours working with or on behalf of each of my students over the course of about 18 months.
I’ve guided hundreds of students to college success, and here’s what they say:
“The college application process can be as confusing and daunting to the student as is it for the parents. From the first consultation Ms. Klaar put all of us at ease. She dug in deep to help our son discover exactly what he wanted from his college experience and his career goals.
“She guided him in ways that we didn’t even know existed that lead him to a 4 year FULL scholarship. Ms. Klaar works directly with the student so they take ownership of their journey. As parents we highly recommend the services of Klaar College Consulting.”
The college admissions process can be overwhelming. These information-packed seminars will point you in the right direction. High school students and parents will learn:
- How to help choose a college that’s a good fit for your student
- How to open a dialogue about career planning
- What all of the testing information means and how to understand it
Location: Both seminars will be at LOOM, 120 Academy St., Ft. Mill, South Carolina
Westborough, MA College & Admissions Testing Seminar
Attention Parents of H.S. Students Graduating in 2020 & 2021
Confused about college admissions and testing?
How to find the best college? How to plan for it?
SATs vs. ACTs? Once? Twice? Subject tests & score choice?
Looking for answers? Come to our FREE Seminar!
Where: Corridor 9/495 Regional Chamber of Commerce, 30 Lyman St, Suite 6, Westborough, MA
When: Sunday, March 24, 1 – 3 p.m. Registration requested.
Email [email protected]
Charlotte Klaar, PhD, Klaar College Consulting
Donna Cox, Cox Tutoring Group
Questions? Email [email protected]
New! St. Thomas Seminars – Coming in April!
St. Thomas has become like a second home for Charlotte Klaar, PhD, so it is natural that her business comes with her. If you have a high school junior who needs/wants college advising from someone College advisor in St. Thomas with 24+ years of serving students and their families, call me – 803-487-9777.
Visit www.cklaar.com for more information and our current 10% discount offer. Watch this space for more details on our College Planning Workshop.
Interested? Email Dr. Klaar at [email protected]
Did you just get handed the results of your PSAT test and think “YIKES?!”
The thing is, even a low score on a PSAT (Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test) can be good if it motivates you to focus on what you need to learn before taking the real test.
Think of your results as a valuable document that shows you what you still need to learn or re-learn prior to the real SAT.
First, analyze your results to see what questions you answered incorrectly. Is there a pattern? Are you missing a basic concept? Is there a series of silly errors because you were rushing? Or, did you not take the test seriously enough? Why? A certified college planning professional can help you answer these questions and provide valuable insights into the testing and college admissions process.
If you scored high, are you in contention for the National Merit Scholarship? If so, what do you have to do to get the designation?
Once you have your 11th grade PSAT in hand, take a Mock ACT (American College Test), under real testing conditions. Once you have those results, have them compared to the PSAT results and see which test better highlights your abilities. Then work out a reasonable testing schedule for the preferred test. Finally, use your results, along with your unweighted GPA, to begin to develop a list of colleges that represent a good Fit and Match for you! If you need help with this, call me!
NEW! To help you get going on your college planning, we are offering a 10% discount on these popular services:
- Developing your strategy…and your college list
- Completing your applications
- Our Comprehensive Service
Click here for complete details. This offer is only valid through March 15, and the number of students is limited!
About the PSAT
Students in any high school grade can take the PSAT test, which is paid for by school districts nationwide. Unfortunately, not all schools explain the relative importance of the test, or of how the results can and should be used in preparing for the SAT and their college search activities.
Few students are told that the highest score on the PSAT is 760 and not 800, as on the SAT. Freshmen and sophomores may be especially disappointed when they see scores well below their school performance to date. (I discourage taking the PSAT before your junior year, but if you do, keep in mind that your percentile – how you rank compared to other scores – is the key statistic to look at).
Also, you may not be informed that this test is designed to be less difficult and shorter than the SAT. That might lull you into a false sense of security that disappears when you take the real test!
If you’d like help interpreting your PSAT scores, estimating your unweighted GPA, or helping you find a college that’s a good Fit and Match, please email me at [email protected] or call 803-487-9777.
For more information on our 10% off sale, which runs through March 15, 20019, click here.