Category Archives: Independent Educational Consultants

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.