Where I live in the suburbs of New York City, there are many people who call themselves College Consultants. College Planners. Independent College Consultants. University Specialists. IECs. You can put the word college or university with some kind of consulting capacity and hang up a shingle in front of your home.
However, not all College Consultants are alike. For some, their claim to fame was helping their child navigate the process, now that mom (or dad) is a self-proclaimed expert. Others may have been former English teachers or editors, deciding they know how to help your child write a piece of prose worthy of a Pulitzer Prize. This is not a college consultant. Know that.
I get many calls requesting my expertise. Parents rightfully ask me, “Why should I hire YOU?
Good question. As I tell parents, there are a lot of people doing what I do. But I am different. Here’s how:
- I Visit Colleges and Universities: To date, I have visited over 125 schools both here in the United States and abroad. I make it a point to squeeze in a school visit whenever I am on vacation.
- I Continue to Learn: As a “student of colleges,” I will often be on a webinar about anything college. Whether I’m meeting with admission officers, learning about changes to the Common Application, or getting a better understanding of non-US universities, I want to know all I can about my field. I also take academic courses, to continue to learn more about college consulting.
- I Have Credentials: As a Professional Member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA), I was thoroughly vetted by my peers, who scrutinized my work, my practice, and my reputation as a consultant. Once I had several years of IECA membership, I decided to add to my credentials by taking the examination to become a Certified Education Planner. There are fewer than 250 CEPs worldwide!
- I Live by My Reputation: My name and standing in my local and professional community are key. I believe in an ethical, honest approach to college consulting. I will put the interest of my client before anything else. If I do not do this, then my reputation is worthless.
- I Have Extensive Education: In addition to my BA, I also have an MBA and a Certificate in Independent College Consulting.
So, before you hire any IEC, ask your prospective consultant the following:
- How many colleges do you visit annually? The answer should be at least 12.
- How many conferences do you attend each year? At least one, if not more.
- Can you provide references? Any IEC should be able to offer at least a few.
- What is your approach? Make sure that you like what you hear.
- Can you guarantee acceptance? If the IEC says yes, RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!
- Of what professional organizations are you a member? The consultant should offer at least one of the following, preferably more: IECA, HECA, NACAC, AICEP.
Just like hiring any professional, it is important to work with someone who is reputable, knows his or her industry, and can effectively guide you through the process since it is so complex. Of course, I hope it will be me. Check out our website here: https://sheptin.com/about/