Category Archives: Certified Educational Planner

Benefits of Hiring an Independent Educational Consultant

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 College admissionsbeing  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 saving on college coststhat 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.

 

Independent Educational Consultants Should be Licensed

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 College campushighly 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
(Sample List)

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.

My College Expertise is Earned

Charlotte Klaar, PhD

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.

College Made Simple

Get a jumpstart on your college app and essay with one of these “College Simplified Summer Camps!”

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.

Benefit from Dr. Klaar’s expertise at the “College Simplified Summer Camps”  in Charlotte, NC, Fort Mill, SC and Frederick, MD, in June and July 2019!

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 IECAHECA, 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

Benefit from Dr. Klaar’s expertise at the “College Simplified Summer Camps”  in Charlotte, NC, Fort Mill, SC and Frederick, MD, in June and July 2019!

 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.

How to Decide Where to Apply

Choosing the colleges you apply to is not as easy as it may seem. Too often, students and parents simply “decide” to apply to colleges whose names they know. This often includes institutions that are not a good fit for the student, even though the choice gets a positive nod from their friends and family. The most important thing to remember is that the colleges you apply to should be a good fit and match for you academically, socially, emotionally, and financially. This is not trophy hunting!

How does a family find these colleges? Naturally, I hope that you will get professional help from someone like me who knows the college landscape nationwide, and who has the student’s interests as a guiding force.

When I meet with a student, the first thing I try to learn is how much the student knows about him/herself. I have an in-depth conversation in which I ask questions designed to reveal the student’s learning style, motivation, interests, and lifestyle. I factor into this mix the family’s ability to pay for college and any other constraints, such as a diagnosed learning issue or family requirement.

studentNext, I review the student’s transcript, school profile and test scores. I also recalculate the unweighted GPA so that the student has a realistic view of where he falls in relation to the colleges I recommend. This allows me to narrow the 3500 colleges in the U. S. to about 15 that represent a good fit and match for the student.

After the student has researched the colleges and, hopefully, visited those in which s/he has strong interest, a short list of eight to 10 institutions who will ultimately get an application emerges. The list should include three to four Likely colleges (a 75 percent chance of admittance), three to four Target colleges (a 50 percent chance of admission), and two to three Reach colleges (a 25 percent chance of admission).

The percentages are based on where the student’s grades and test scores fall when considering the middle 50 percent of the college’s published statistics. These numbers represent the Match for the student. If the student’s test scores are an issue, know that there are almost 1,000 colleges in the U. S. who are either test optional or test flexible.

I know that this sounds complicated, but if you take a step-by-step approach to the process, it works well. Remember, just because a college was a good fit for Uncle Harry 25 years ago, it may not be a good fit for you. Similarly, you will get bombarded by advice from well-meaning, albeit, uninformed people about places that would be “great” for you. They do not know your numbers or you as well as they may think. Keep the following in mind:
• Every college is a good college for someone.
• Any college can be a “party school” if that is what you are going to college for.
• Where you go to college is less important than what you do when you get there.
• How well you do is about you, not the college.

Here are some resources to help you get started:
1. For a do-it-yourself primer on college planning: https://www.cklaar.com/service-offerings-and-fees/college-admissions/
2. College Board’s Big Future https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/find-colleges
3. College Raptor https://www.collegeraptor.com/college-search
Good luck and remember that help is available even if all you want is a beginning list!

If you need more help with this or any other aspect of college planning, please call me at 803-487-977 or email to [email protected]

Watch this Free Webinar on the Top 5 Mistakes when Choosing a College

The Top 5 Mistakes when Choosing a collegeClub Z! Tutoring, the nation’s largest in-home and online tutoring and test prep company, is hosting a FREE college prep webinar at 8 p.m. Eastern (5 p.m. Pacific) on March 22, 2017. The topic is how to avoid the top 5 mistakes when choosing a college.

The topic for Club Z!’s March webinar is “The Top 5 Mistakes When Choosing a College,” which will focus on how to avoid common pitfalls during the college selection process. From using the wrong criteria (following a friend, for example) to not applying to a school based on your anticipated financial aid package, the webinar will explore issues that may lead a student to choose a school that ultimately is not a good fit. Hosting the call is certified Educational Planner, and Club Z! college admissions advisor, Charlotte Klaar, PhD.

“Families too often waste time on colleges that are not a good match for their student. This leads to unhappiness, needless disappointment, and costly transfers,” offers Dr. Klaar. “My goal with this webinar is to shed some light on these potential issues, and offer strategies for finding the right school.”

Please join Club Z! and Dr. Klaar on March 22, 2017 at 8 p.m. Eastern/5 p.m. Pacific for this important webinar. Attendance is absolutely free, but does require pre-registration as space is limited. To join us on March 22nd, click here to register.

Charlotte Klaar, PhD, One of Country’s Top College Consultants, Opens for Business in Ft. Mill

Ft. Mill, SC…Charlotte Klaar, PhD, a Certified Educational Planner with more

Certified Educational Planner in Ft. Mill, SC

than 20 years of experience, recently moved her business, Klaar College Consulting, to the greater Ft. Mill, SC and Charlotte/ Ballantyne, NC area.

“With in-state colleges costing upwards of $23,500 a year and private colleges averaging well over $46,000 a year, plus more than 3,500 colleges nationwide, parents and students can benefit from the knowledge of a college expert,” said Dr. Klaar.

“Competition is fierce, so understanding how colleges view your student’s grades and accomplishments is also important,” said Dr. Klaar. Parents have legitimate concerns when heading into the college process:
• Will my student pick a major that will lead to a solid career?
• Will my daughter find a job in her field after graduation?
• Will my student incur so much debt that she’ll end up living at home again?

Insider Tips Can Save Thousands
“Certified Educational Planners spend hours every week keeping up on trends in financial aid, student loans, testing, and the myriad application and scholarship deadlines. They can provide valuable insights, such as the fact that most colleges don’t charge the full ‘sticker price,’ or that a private college may be less expensive than a state school. if they really want your student, the colleges are willing to provide more financial aid,” explained Dr. Klaar.

“High school counselors may be responsible for more than 400 students, which means they can’t give them the individual attention they need. For example, as part of the college admissions process, it’s important to know a family’s financial situation and understand what a student is passionate about,” she added.

Dr. Klaar was awarded the Steven R. Antonoff Award for Professional Achievement at the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA) Conference in Boston, MA this past spring.

The award was created to recognize an IECA professional who has distinguished him or herself by their outstanding contributions to the profession of independent college consulting.

Dr. Klaar has been a professional member of IECA since 1998, and served on the Summer Training Institute faculty for many years, served on the IECA Board of Directors for three years, was chair of the Board Development Committee, served on the Education and Training Committee, was chair of the Mentoring Sub-Committee, served on the Ad Hoc Master’s Degree Committee, and was chair of the Ad Hoc Strategic Planning Committee.
Additionally, she has taught in the College Counseling Certificate program at UCLA Extension and the Certificate in Independent Educational Consulting program at UC Irvine Extension and at Assumption College in its Master’s in School Counseling Program.

For more information visit www.cklaar.com, [email protected], 301-834-6888. For a free report on how you can contribute to your student’s success in college and their career, visit https://www.cklaar.com/about-klaar and click on the link on the right-hand side of the page.

About Klaar College Consulting
Dr. Klaar is a Certified Educational Planner with more than 20 years of experience in her field. She earned her PhD in general psychology from Capella University, an MS in interdisciplinary Science Studies from Johns Hopkins University, a BA in liberal studies from the University of the State of New York and a teaching certificate from William Paterson University.
Dr. Klaar also provides consulting services to other educational consultants, in particular, those who are new to the field, and career counseling across the lifespan.