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Let’s be clear, not all families require or desire an Independent Educational Consultant (IEC). Let’s also be realistic. If you are relying on your student’s school counselor to assist in the college application process, consider asking the counselor two questions: How many students does he/she serve? What percentage of their time can he/she devote to college counseling? The statistics are not favorable -- on average 400+ to 1 (double that in CA) and in the 20-30% range, respectively -- but all that matters for your decision is your own school situation.
If you are uncomfortable with the answers you receive and are considering an IEC, realize that an IEC supplements school guidance counselors, and does not replace them. Though stretched thin, school counselors are competent and have the student’s best interests in mind. They will be responsible for writing counselor letters of recommendation and for the transcript process. They know details regarding their school’s courses and teachers useful in the course selection process. And, they may very well be able to tap long relationships between the school and certain colleges. School guidance counselors are a critical part of your student’s college admission team. You might find this article from Inside Higher Ed regarding the challenges of high school counselors in college advising. of interest.
Perception may be that only the wealthy use IECs. Perception may also be that the process of using independent consultants is tainted (Varsity Blues scandal of early 2019). Note that the consultant who orchestrated the scandal was not a member of the the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA). This might be a minimum requirement when considering who you are hiring. IECA found that while 28% of client families are in fact wealth/upper class, 46% are professional/upper middle class and 26% are working class, lower middle class or impoverished. Clients have shared their reasons for hiring an IEC, which go well beyond the quip “because everyone in the neighborhood is doing it”. High on the list of reasons from parents are:
Wanting to enjoy their student’s last year at home without feeling they must “nag” them.
Lack of experience with the college admissions system.
Lack of time to figure out the system and to research schools.
Desire for insights as to what is expected by colleges and how to best prepare for that.
Desire to reduce the “stress” that goes along with the process that they have heard so much about.
Whatever your reason for hiring an IEC, you get to choose how much help you receive and when you receive that help. Feel free to contact us for more details.