An Independent Educational Counselor (IEC) is an individual who is independent of high schools or colleges and are hired privately to provide expert college counseling assistance, working in the best interest of families.
Reputable IEC's belong to professional organizations such as Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA) and/or Higher Education Consultants Association (HECA). IECs must meet membership qualifications while abiding by the organization's Principles of Good Practice. In addition, many IECs have high school setting work experience (12 years myself) and may also belong to the National Association for College Admission Counselors (NACAC) and/or their local state affiliates, such as the Illinois Association for College Admissions Counselors (IACAC).
To become a professional member of IECA, a consultant is to have visited a minimum 50 college campuses. Just as it is important students visit a college campus, an information session and tour allows an IEC to feel the atmosphere in and around the quad, interact with students to understand social life and feel the vibe of the campus. This firsthand knowledge is something that cannot be gained by perusing brochures, browsing websites, or hearing the facts/figures from admission representatives at college fairs. This is valuable information that an IEC has the time to learn, not just during summer vacation, but while college is in session. According to IECA, an IEC spends visits an average 22 college a year. I personally have visited over 150, 3 already this year, and 3 more in the coming days.
The U.S. Department of Education states the student to counselor ratio is 467:1. How can a school counselor find the time to individually meet with each senior to discuss their future plans, find the best fit college, brainstorm/edit essays, assist with the FAFSA/CSS Profile, give them a 'high five' when they receive an acceptance letter and give them a big "I'm proud of you!" when they announce on May 1st where they will attend? An IEC typically works with a smaller caseload. IECA states this is an average of thirty high school students, not just seniors. This allows each IEC to personally develop a relationship with each family. An IEC is also readily available via email, text or call for quick questions, or can easily schedule appointments to meet with parents and/or students who have concerns, are stressed or would like to complete 'just one more essay.' In the very competitive college admissions world, having someone behind you, helping to guide the process is priceless.
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