How Independent Educational Consultants may assist with the college search and application process.
What is an independent educational consultant (IEC), and how does one differ from a school-based counselor?
In some states, in-school counselors are overburdened by the number of students with whom they meet or the demands of their jobs (which extend far beyond college and career counseling). IECs provide one-on-one college counseling for students and also respond to the needs of parents in this process – all during hours when students have time to access that guidance. Also, IECs, especially professional members associated with IECA, are expected to visit college campuses regularly, understand the trends in college admissions by meeting with admissions personnel, and be knowledgeable about all aspects of the process, including financial aid and athletics. IECs are also members of professional organizations, including IECA, NACAC (and its regional affiliates) and HECA. In a study done in 2010 by NACAC, 26% of families are now accessing the professional services of independent educational consultants.
What are some current trends in college admissions?
The population “bubble” of college-bound students may be smaller than it was 10 years ago, but more students from a broader demographic within the US are attending college; in addition, the application pool is now – more than ever – an international one. As a reaction to this increased competition, applicants are applying to more colleges than in the past – the average is now 13 colleges – which just serves to ramp up the competition. IECs are equipped to help students create a list of colleges that suits the student in terms of locale, programs offered, culture of the student body and financial parameters.
What matters most in the application process these days, and what are some trends?
That, of course, depends on the college. However, there is a growing trend in admissions offices to assess and more heavily weigh the rigor of a student’s high school coursework. This factor is moving up on the list of factors in college admissions, often taking precedence over standardized test scores or GPA. Some 850 institutions, in fact, are now “Fairtest” – those that no longer require standardized test scores. Another trend is that students and families are taking a closer look at honors colleges within public universities as an option to private colleges. A new site, Public University Honors, is terrific for describing these programs and also offers rankings.
What about the cost of a college education?
First, it is important to understand that the value of higher education continues to increase every year. Study after study confirms that a college degree increases the earning potential of a graduate, from $500,000 to as much as $1 million or more over a graduate’s lifetime. In addition, the data clearly shows that college graduates are less likely to be unemployed.
Debt can be a terribly limiting factor for a young adult, but IECs can help to guide students and families towards wise decisions when making this important financial and academic choose of a college. As independent educational consultants, we are aware of schools that are likely to offer grants to certain students, we are aware of scholarships within colleges and universities, and we can guide students to choices that will limit their ultimate debt burden.
Today, the average college graduate leaves an institution bearing approximately $25,000 in debt. Remember, this is the average, and so many students unwisely accumulate much more. The fact is that 43% of undergraduate and graduate students borrow between $1,000 and $10,000. The recent congressional decision to NOT raise the interest rate on student loans, but to keep the rate on Stafford loans at 3.4% is certainly a help. Awareness about the rising cost of college (increases are outpacing inflation by at least 4%, and the average tuition at a four-year public university climbed 15% between 2008 and 2010) is front and center in the media these days. Public universities have increased tuition by nearly 15% over the past four years. Students and parents need to understand the long-term cost of an education, plan accordingly, explore options, and limit debt accumulation. Calculators now appear on every college website. Honestly, colleges bear a major responsibility to keep higher education accessible and affordable. Most colleges and universities are working on this.
How does Ann Rossbach Consulting help my student and family?
Ann Rossbach Consulting offers a unique and successful “team approach” to the college search and application process through creating meaningful relationships with our students. We problem-solve together with students and families; we offer another set of eyes on applications and essays. We brainstorm and investigate summer enrichment opportunities. And since we are each visiting colleges and meeting with admissions personnel, we have the opportunity to see even more. We are here to cover for one another so that students always are assured of support. We have both been enrolled in UCLA and UCIrvine educational programs, and Ann is in the application process to become a Certified Educational Planner, the only current accreditation for IECs.
Through providing meaningful services, current knowledge and building lasting relationships, Ann Rossback Consulting adds tremendous value to the college search and application process.
Although an IEC will certainly help a student to thoroughly complete a Common Application, our guidance goes much further and deeper. We establish lasting relationships with our clients (students), offering guidance on choosing courses, writing a strong resume, constructing personal essays with purpose, interviewing skills and making informed decisions. In building relationships and getting to know students well, we can lead them to informed college choices. Recently, two previous clients called – one was seeking help with a revised resume for an internship and the other was beginning to think about graduate school. It is these phone calls – based on trust and the knowledge that we will help – that mean so much.