The Value of Working with an Independent Educational Consultant

Teenage Students Walking Around College Campus TogetherWhen I left the university environment to pursue my own business as an independent educational consultant, aka “college coach,” it was a move borne out of a love for helping shape future generations. I was never called to be in the classroom like my parents, sisters-in-law, or husband. But I am profoundly passionate about one-on-one conversations with others, learning what makes them tick, helping them develop new skills, and supporting them in finding opportunities to continue their learning and professional growth.

I’m particularly passionate these days about helping others navigate the path to career and college success. Students and families need help and guidance beyond the traditional school day. There are only so many hours during the day that teachers and school staff have to give. They have their own families, interests, and obligations outside of their work. And while teachers and guidance staff go above and beyond, it’s hard to sustain that level of commitment for every student.

My role as an independent educational consultant (IEC) is to serve as an extension of what the schools are able to give. I partner with students and families, helping to gather information and provide guidance in determining which college is their right investment. Academic success and college pursuits don’t happen overnight, but rather as a result of strategic goal setting, hard work, and a strong support system.

Not every IEC is the same – we each have our own areas of interest, expertise, and way of working with families. If you’re needing additional help beyond what your school guidance staff and teachers are providing, an IEC may be a good resource for you. The Independent Educational Consultant’s Association, of which I am an associate member, has some great information on selecting an IEC.

Here are a few pieces of advice as you consider working with an IEC.
  1. Consider what you need help with. Do you need help finding college options or do you just need help with college essays? Do you need help understanding how to pay for college or apply for financial aid? Do you have all the information you need, but you just need a third-party, objective voice? Or do you need all of the above? Every family is different, and so is every IEC. Considering what you need as you begin to explore prospective IECs can help you determine which person to work with, as well as which services you need and which you can forego.
  2. Get to know prospective consultants before you hire them. Ask them about their educational background, how many years they have worked directly with students, and their expertise on the things you need help with. Consider their style and approach and how this fits you. This includes how they conduct meetings, what their fee structure is, and how they communicate with you and your student.
  3. Realize that hiring an IEC does not guarantee admission to a college or university. As part of IECA, or other professional organizations, there are ethical standards that IECs annually agree to. As part of these standards, we agree to not misrepresent a student’s record, interfere with the college’s evaluation of the candidate, or make any guarantees of admission. An IECs focus is to support and guide students and families through the process.
  4. Students are the focus of the IEC. While the college search and application process is better when family members are involved, the focus of the IEC is the student. As such, you can expect the IEC to ask the student to take responsibility for what needs to be done and to put their best effort forward. It’s important that you communicate clearly with the IEC early in the process to understand how and when family members will be involved.

College may be the biggest investment a family makes. IECs can help families maximize their investment by simplifying the search and application process, providing high quality resources, and supporting them as they make the best decision for the student and the family.

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Learn more about us and our coaching services: academic coaching, career coaching, life coaching, transitions coaching.