The problem with any industry that grows quickly is that licensing standards and regulations rarely keep up with industry growth. While most independent educational consultants are professionals are committed to ensure they have the expertise to help students and families achieve their post-secondary goals, not all IECs are created equal. In some cases, there exist well-intentioned individuals whose child got accepted to [insert highly selective school here] so they think they can help yours do the same. In other, often highly publicized cases, there exist instances of scammers who will be more than happy to take your money in return for empty promises and poor advice. Who can forget the highly publicized story of the family who paid $2.2 Million to a consulting company that had “inside connections” in order to get their 2 sons into Harvard (neither kid was accepted to Harvard)? For the full story, go here.
So, how can you distinguish an independent educational consultant who is an ethical professional, working with your student’s best interest as their primary goal from the few who are sub-optimally educated, or worse?
Even for those IECs who are on the up and up, it’s important to understand that not every IEC is a good match for every family. In addition to professional expertise, personality type, communication style, support levels and working processes are all factors that will impact how successful your relationship is with your IEC and how likely you are to achieve your college admission goals, as a result.
When looking for an IEC, do your research. We are talking about your time, money and your child’s college prospects so spending some time up front to find the right person to join your student’s college admissions team is critical. Don’t be shy about meeting with a few different professionals to determine who the right partner for your family is. And, when you do, here are some questions you should ask:
- What is your college admissions philosophy?
- How does your approach differ from others in your industry? What makes you distinctive? What are your areas of specialty?
- What services are included in your offering? What services are outside of your offering?
- Do you have expertise in [athletic recruiting/LD/performing arts/service academies/financial aid/scholarships]? Be wary if you find someone who claims to have expertise in everything.
- How long have you been working as an IEC? What was your background previously?
- How many clients do you work with?
- What steps do you take to help my student determine the best fit schools?
- How many schools do you visit each year? How do you keep up with trends in the industry?
- Do you belong to any professional associations, such as IECA, HECA, AICEP or NACAC?
- Do you accept any compensation or incentives for referrals to schools, test prep partners or other partners you might recommend?
- What can I expect in terms of frequency or type of meetings? Do you work on evenings/weekends/etc.?
- Will my student meet with you or with someone else on your team?
- What type of pricing do you offer? Hourly or package? Why is that your policy?
- If I have a quick question, what is the best way to get it answered? Will you take a 5 minute phone call or answer a text or do I need to schedule an appointment?
- What do you expect from my student/my family for this to be a successful partnership?
Finding the right IEC to partner with your child can be a tremendous asset in helping you navigate the college application process effectively and with minimal stress. With a little bit of research – and the right interview questions – you are well on your way to finding the right person to add to your college admissions team.