In Response to the Admissions Scandal

Undoubtedly you have heard about the recent admissions scandal in which authorities say the parents of some of the nation’s wealthiest and most privileged students sought to buy spots for their children at the big-name universities. I can assure you I am as shocked and sickened by this news as you are. It’s unbelievable to think that parents would go to such extremes to get their kids in to the big-name colleges.It’s also hard to grasp that there are people out there like William Rick Singer who are cheating the system.

Unfortunately, these kinds of stories sometimes fuel misconceptions about the college admissions industry. To that end, I thought I would clarify some key points about the profession, as well as what to look for if you are thinking about hiring a college consultant. The information below is from two professional associations that have rigorous standards for independent educational consultants: the Higher Education Consultants Association (HECA) and the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA).

What do educational consultants do?

An IEC is a professional who assists high school students and their families with college planning and the application process. The IEC’s primary goal is to help students find colleges where they can be successful. They also provide guidance throughout the financial aid and college application process, making sure students meet deadlines and prepare complete and effective applications.

Do educational consultants help students “get in” to college?

If an educational consultant or anyone else suggests that they can guarantee admission to a particular college or university, it’s time to find another consultant. Professional educational consultants understand that many variables factor into admissions decisions and therefore they do not make false promises. They can, however, help students improve their chances of admission by identifying colleges that match their admissions profile and interests.

How do you know if you need an educational consultant?

The decision to hire an educational consultant is a personal one, and not every family will need or want to work with a consultant. Working with an educational consultant can be particularly helpful if your child is confused about their college options; has limited opportunity to meet with their school counselor; is interested in a less common major or career; has an unusual academic background or admissions profile; or would benefit from one-on-one assistance with college planning and applications. Educational consultants can also be helpful when a student has learning disabilities or other special needs, when families are having difficulty agreeing on college choices, or for students who are particularly anxious about the college admissions process.

Questions to ask before you hire a consultant:

  • How long have you been in business?
  • What was your background prior to going into independent educational consulting? What was your training and education?
  • How many colleges do you visit each year?
  • How do you keep up with new trends, academic changes and evolving campus cultures?
  • Do you belong to any professional associations?
  • What professional conferences or training workshops do you attend on a regular basis to keep up with regional and national trends and changes in the law?
  • Are all fees involved stated in writing, up front, indicating exactly what services I will receive for those fees?
  • Do you adhere to the ethical guidelines for private counseling established by HECA, NACAC and IECA?

At Head to College, we adhere to the professional guidelines of IECA, HECA, and NACAC, including: To act ethically, serve with integrity, and respect confidentiality; and to respect the college pursuit process as a learning opportunity for everyone. We make no guarantee of college admission or placement, or guarantees of financial aid or scholarship awards. We do guarantee we have the student’s best interest at heart and will support them through the process with gentle honesty, sound advice, and a sense of humor.

If you are interested in learning more, please contact us.