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IECA and Members in the News

IECA's 'Top Strengths and Experiences Colleges Look for in High School Students'
The Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA) released today its biennial survey of educational consultants, "Top Strengths and Experiences Colleges Look for In High School Students."
Source: Examiner, October 2, 2013

What to Expect from an Independent College Counselor

Faced with the decision midway through junior year, her parents enlisted the services of an independent college counselor. This paid consultant helped with everything from fleshing out Jokinen's likes and dislikes to advising her to beef up extra-curricular activities to become a more attractive candidate to competitive schools.
Source: Reuters, August 12, , 2013

Tips for Hiring Education Agents
The Independent Educational Consultants Association offers warning signs that an agent or consultant might not be trusted.
Source: The New York Times

In College Essays, Storm Tales Flow
"No one becomes a better candidate because they've had a bad event," said Larry Blumenstyk, a private admissions counselor. "But they might become a more interesting character if they can apply what they've learned in order to succeed in life." There's also the fear that admissions officers could develop Sandy fatigue. "That's the risk, that everyone from New Jersey or New York is going to be writing about Sandy," said Nicole Oringer, a private admissions counselor.
Source: The Wall Street Journal

Sandy Prompts Some Colleges to Push Early-Application Deadlines
"I always encourage kids to work ahead of time," said Bruce Vinik, an education consultant in Montgomery County. "You never know if something's going to come up at the end that somehow throws a wrench into the process. This is a great example of why kids need to work ahead."
Source: The Washington Post

Quest for Harvard entry ends in $2m tangle
" That, too, should have been a red flag, said Michael Goran, an admissions consultant and member of IECA: "We sign in blood that we won't write essays for people."
Then there were his prices. The association has refused to accept consultants who charge in the mid-five figures for several years' worth of prep work "because we consider that so outrageous," said Mark Sklarow, its executive director.
Source: The Boston Globe

Forged Transcripts and Fake Essays: How Unscrupulous Agents Get Chinese Students into U.S. Schools
Because many Chinese students have trouble making sense of the American admissions process, a huge industry of education agents has arisen in China to help guide them - and, in some cases, to do whatever it takes to get them accepted
Source: Time Magazine
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Early Decision- Is it Right For Your Child?
by IECA member Janet Rosier (Connecticut)
"I know I want to apply early, I just don't know where." Independent Admissions Consultants hate to hear those words. A rush to apply early means that the student understands there is an advantage to applying Early Decision, but may not understand the broader picture.
Source: Unigo.com
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8 Subtle Ways to Prepare Middle Schoolers for College

"It doesn't matter whether the activity is athletic, service, spirit, leadership, journalistic or academic," said Potomac-based educational consultant Shelley Levine. "Anything will do, as long as they enjoy the activity."
Source: Washington Post
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Commissions and Foreign Students
Mark Sklarow, executive director of the Independent Educational Consultants Association, said that "when someone in China or Latvia knows that they are going to get paid for sending a kid to one of these five or six colleges" that are paying his or her commissions, "and in fact that Number Six will pay twice what College Four will pay, there is no question that when your meal depends on that commission, the best interest of the kid has been left behind."
Source: Inside Higher Ed
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How to Choose the Right University
It's hard to get what you pay for when you're buying something as expensive and important as higher education and the price keeps increasing at a furious clip. Specialists in education financing nevertheless say that many opportunities exist to extract better value from universities and colleges.
Source: The New York Times
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The New Rules of the Admissions Game
New Reality Six: Consider a Consultant This all sounds like a lot to digest, and it is. That's why the college-consulting industry is booming. According to a recent study by Lipman Hearne, a marketing and communications firm, 26 percent of high-achieving students (defined as those with scores above 1150 on the 1600-scale SAT or an ACT composite score of 25 or higher) now hire a private consultant in their college-application process. Membership in the Independent Educational Consultants Association has been growing at 20 percent annually, according to the group's director, Mark Sklarow. "The current economy has meant that school districts are increasing caseloads for school-based counselors," Sklarow says. "We've heard from so many families who say the school counselor not only doesn't know their child but there's just not enough time for them to help."
Source: Newsweek
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If You're Going to Be Edited, Be Sure the Result Is Still You
Mark Sklarow, executive director of the Independent Educational Consultants Association, noted that an extremely well-written essay might backfire if the student's English grades - and score on the standardized test-writing portion - did not reflect such high quality. "No college in America will believe that kid wrote that essay, and it will probably cost that kid a place at college," he said. Good editors can help a teenager go a little deeper into the subject, and make sure the essay flows well. "But it has to feel like it was written by a 17-year-old," Mr. Sklarow said. He said his own daughter used a consultant for her college preparation process and when the consultant told her that a certain paragraph didn't read right, she refused to change it. "My daughter said, 'I want it to sound like that,' and the educational consultant said, 'Fine.' I feel really good about how that process went," he said. "If you look at the essay, you know that a 17-year-old girl wrote it."
Source: The New York Times
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The Use of Recruiting Agents in the United States
Higher education in the United States has long been attractive to international students, and universities have historically been able to attract those students on little more than name and reputation alone. However, as smaller, less well-known institutions seek to increase their recruiting efforts abroad the name-brand approach has become less viable, especially in the face of increased competition from a growing crop of education-destination countries around the world.
Source: World Education News & Reviews
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College Consultants Match Teen with School
Parents are hiring college consultants to pinpoint their student's strengths and navigate the process of choosing and applying to a school.

According to Mark Sklarow, executive director of the Fairfax, Va.-based not-for-profit Independent Educational Consultants Association, the typical family hiring a consultant is a suburban, public school family earning between $75,000 and $100,000 per year. Most hire a consultant to help find a college where their child will grow, thrive and succeed academically, socially and emotionally.
Source: Bankrate.com
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Private Educational Counselors, a New and Growing Resource
A new and dramatic shift in how and where high school students and young adults receive post-secondary educational counseling has been quietly underway for the past decade, reaching a fast pace that is transforming counseling.
Source: Career College Association's magazine, "The Link"
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Press Releases

IECA Annual Survey Shows Shifting Admission Priorities in College Admission

Fairfax, VA- IECA released its annual survey results of hundreds of the nation's premier independent educational consultants, Top Strengths and Experiences Colleges Look for in High School Students. According to CEO Mark Sklarow, the list saw the greatest changes than any time in the more than 20 years the Association has conducted its survey.
Source: IECA Press Release
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Finding the Proper Placement for Troubled Teens is Crucial to Success
Fairfax, VA- IECA Stresses the Need for Individualized Attention and Placement
Source: IECA Press Release
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Largest Survey of Independent Educational Consultants Reveals Significant New Trends
Fairfax, VA- The Profession is exploding in size and influence as more families turn to IECs for assistance
Source: IECA Press Release
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IECA and College Essay Organizer Announce Strategic Partnership: All Members Receive Free Account
Fairfax, VA- IECA will now provide interested IECA members with free College Essay Organizer student accounts during each college application season, in addition to the already specially discounted rates for IECA members.
Source: IECA Press Release
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IECA Supports NACAC's Proposal on International Recruitment
Fairfax, VA- Yesterday, the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) announced a proposed clarification of its Statement of Principles of Good Practice to clarify that the restriction on commission-based recruiting applies to indicate that the recruitment of students in any context, whether domestic or international. IECA supports and has advocated for this clarification, as we have always believed that the use of agents- domestically or internationally- is unethical.
Source: IECA press release
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IECA and CollegeSolved Announce New Strategic Partnership
Fairfax, VA- The Independent Educational Consultants Association, the nation's leading organization representing independent school and college advisors working in private practice, and CollegeSolved, a newly launched and significant provider of Web-based information for college-bound families, announced a strategic partnership to bring greater help to students and their parents exploring educational opportunities.
Source: IECA press release
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Twelve Critical Questions to Ask Before Hiring an Educational Consultant
Fairfax, VA- The field of private college counseling has seen explosive growth in recent years, with membership in the Independent Educational Consultants Association more than doubling from 350 to 750 members in the last five years. Nationally, the number of high school seniors hiring educational consultants to assist in their college search and application process has climbed to more than 160,000.
Source: IECA press release
>> Read more

Related Downloads:
12 Questions to Ask Before Hiring an Educational Consultant
12 Warning Signs that a Consultant is Not Worth Hiring

2010 Edition: What Colleges Are Really Looking for in Applicants
The 2010 survey of independent college consultants has now been released, revealing this year's "Top Ten Strengths and Experiences Colleges Look for in High School Students."
Source: IECA press release
>> read more

National Study Shows Dramatic Increase in Hiring Private College Counselors

A study by Lipman Hearne places percentage hiring educational consultants at 26% of High-Achieving Seniors; Number Affirms IECA Internal Reporting. Fairfax, VA - Lipman Hearne, one of the nation's leading marketing and communications firms, released a new, independent survey, "High-Achieving Seniors and the College Decision." One of their findings, which they called "A Surprise": 26% of such students hired an independent educational consultant to assist in their college search.
Source: IECA press release
>> read more

IECA and StudentAid.com Partner to Provide Families Aid Eligibility and Net Price Comparisons
Sacramento, CA - The Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA) and college planning and aid advisory service StudentAid.com today announced a partnership that for the first time provides IECA members' clients accurate, personalized comparisons of student aid eligibility and net prices for colleges years before they apply.

Source: IECA press release
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College-Bound Students who work with Consultants Enroll Differently Than Peers, New Survey Shows
July 15, 2009 - Fairfax, Virginia - A new survey of educational consultants shows that nearly two-thirds of their clients enroll in private colleges, a figure nearly three times the national average. At the same time, students are four times as likely as the general population to go to college out of their home state.

Source: IECA press release
>> read more

Private College Counseling Profession Grows Despite Economy
With the country in a recession, pervasive economic uncertainty, and unemployment on the rise, it might be surprising to hear that families are turning to educational consultants more than ever to help with school and college placements.

Source: IECA press release
>> read more

Press Room

To interview an IECA member consultant or an IECA staff member, contact Sarah Brachman, Manager of Communications at Sarah@IECAonline.com or 703-591-4850.

Background Information on IECA

What is an Independent Educational Consultant (IEC)?
10 Ways IECA Members Are Unlike Other College Consultants
CONSUMER ADVICE - 12 Questions to Ask Before Hiring an Independent Educational Consultant
IECA's Principles of Good Practice
26% of High Achieving Students Used an IEC
Common Boarding School Myths
2012 Survey Results: State of the Profession
Infographic: College Admission & the Independent Educational Consultant

Frequently asked questions about IECA and Independent Educational Consultants
Answered by IECA Executive Director, Mark Sklarow

Is the field of independent educational consulting growing?
What accounts for this growth?
What does an independent educational consultant do that a school-based counselor can't?
How are IECA members different than other independent educational consultants?
How do admission staff react to applicants when they know an IEC was involved?
How many families use independent educational consultants? Are these mainly wealthy families?
Do IECs only work with 'top-performing' students?
Do some IECs work with students experiencing behavioral and emotional problems?
How do we know using an IEC works?

Can IECs guarantee admission?
Do IECs package students? Do they write student essays?
I hear IECs charge over $40,000- are they worth it?
Are there qualifications or licensing to become an independent educational consultant?

Is the field of independent educational consulting growing?
Yes, growing and growing rapidly. Just five years ago we estimated that there were fewer than 2,000 independent educational consultants (IECs) nationwide. Today we estimate 5 - 6,000 full-time (or nearly so) and thousands more who moonlight, doing consulting in addition to counseling or admissions work for an institution during the day. Among the area of growth we see a new trend emerging: the growth of IECs internationally. For example, IECA's membership has grown from representing eight countries to 21 in just the last four years.

What accounts for this growth?
There are a number of reasons. Among them:
Increased confusion over who is admitted to college. A generation ago most people felt that they could guess who got in, based on test scores and GPAs. Today so much else goes into the decision; it has led to confusion- and anxiety- among students and parents.
Increased cost of education. The price for private secondary school, special schools and all colleges- public and private- have never been higher, with costs growing at twice the rate of inflation. Some private colleges can cost a family more than $200,000 over four years and some residential secondary schools can cost more than $60,000 a year. If a family is going to invest that much, additional help to assure a good match makes financial sense as the time and tuition money lost in transfers can be enormous.
Over-worked school counselors. In parts of the United States, public school counselors struggle with caseloads of 600 to 1,000 students! Many handle behavior, academic, and social issues, as well as college counseling. Such numbers are three to four times the recommended ratios, limiting the impact and effectiveness of hard-working, but over-burdened counselors. IECs have the extra time to explore career interest, learning styles, and much more.
Students identified with special needs. "Gifted" or learning disabled students with unique needs have a different experience in their educational search. This is even true for gifted artists and athletes. Many IECs specialize in specific types of placements.

What does an independent educational consultant do that a school-based counselor can't?
IECs can give families individual attention that many school-based counselors don't have time for because of the large number of students they advise and the numerous roles they have to play. IECA members also visit scores of campuses each year, and are able to offer first-hand information on schools that a student may not be aware of. After all, students must be a good fit based not only on academics, but on social and community criteria as well. IECA members are knowledgeable in the latest trends and changes to admission policies, financial aid, and more.

How are IECA members different than other independent educational consultants?
Those who wish to join IECA submit to an extensive vetting process: checking references, extensive campus visits, demonstrating experience and education that includes an advanced degree, even a review of their marketing materials and Web site. Because IECA consultants are committed to the highest ethical standards of practice, families will find that our members have the student's best interest as their sole focus. IECA members sign an annual pledge that governs their interactions with colleges, students, and parents. They agree to avoid any action that distorts or misrepresents a student's record or interfere with a university's ability to accurately evaluate a student.

How do admission staff react to applicants when they know an IEC was involved?
In a college search, the admission staff rarely knows that a consultant was involved. Because a consultant's primarily role is exploring great choices for the student's particular needs, the application comes directly from the student. In many schools, colleges, and programs, an increasing number of admission representatives want to know if a candidate worked with an IECA member as this assures them that care and thought were given in consideration of their institution as a good match. When it comes to a secondary or special needs placement, a consultant is almost certain to be in direct contact with a school; schools welcome this contact, while some residential care programs require it.

How many families use independent educational consultants? Are these mainly wealthy families?
A 2009 nationwide, independent study undertaken by the research firm Lipman Hearne, aided by the National Research Council on College and University Admissions, found that 26% of high achieving high school students (those seeking a four-year college) used an IEC. Other recent studies have found similar results. More than 10 years earlier, a similar study found the number at 3%, reflecting the dramatic growth of the field. Among boarding schools and special purpose schools for students with emotional or behavioral needs, it is not uncommon for 25-75% of the student body to come from IECA-member referrals.

An oft-repeated misperception is that independent educational consulting primarily serves the needs of wealthy families. A recent survey conducted by IECA shows the typical client to be attending a public school in the suburbs of a big city with family income between $75,000 and $100,000. Far from wealthy, such families are generally identified as professional class. As the field has grown, IECs often distinguish themselves by charging hourly, rather than in one inclusive package, and at varying costs, allowing more families to make use of them.

Do IECs only work with 'top-performing' students?
IECA members work with all levels of students, regardless of their GPA. Their goal is to find the right school for each individual student's needs, whether it's a large, state university, small liberal arts college, Ivy League college, gap year program, wilderness therapy program, emotional growth boarding school, or LD school.

Do some IECs work with students experiencing behavioral and emotional problems?
There is a specialty designation in IECA for IECs who assist in placing students who act out behaviorally, abuse drugs or the Internet, or experience significant emotional impairment. Such IECs often work with mental health professionals in securing a safe, therapeutic environment, including wilderness therapy programs, residential treatment centers, and emotional growth boarding schools.

How do we know using an IEC works?
"Works" can be a tough term to demonstrate. A successful placement is one in which the student succeeds and thrives once enrolled. It is all about the "right fit" between student and school. We do know there are 'differences:' Students who work with independent educational consultants are more likely to attend private and out-of-state colleges/universities. According to a survey of IECs, an average of 65% of their clients chose a private college, compared to the national average of just over 20%. There is much anecdotal evidence that students who worked with an IEC were far more likely to stay at a school through graduation (the national figure among four-year colleges is under 50%!)

Can IECs guarantee admission?
No one can guarantee admission. IECA consultants work with students, and when appropriate, admissions staff, to find the most appropriate schools for that individual- the best fit academically, socially, and financially.

Do IECs package students? Do they write student essays?
No! IECA members believe that the student is in charge of the application process, and all materials should be the result of the student's own work. IECA members work with students to help them develop a realistic list of schools to apply to and guide them during the process. IECA members are expressly forbidden from writing or heavily editing a student's essay (editing lightly- the way a school English teacher might review a student's work- is acceptable and expected). What is key for a great match is that the application mirrors the student and reflects who they really are.

I hear IECs charge over $40,000- are they worth it?
The number of consultants in the world charging that much can be counted on one hand. Most consultants charge (for a multi-year package of services) about 1/10th of that kind of fee, with many charging about $125/hour- about the same as a family therapist. Moreover, hiring an independent educational consultant may be the best investment a family can make. Using the knowledge and experience of an IEC who has extensive experience to guide families in making this important decision can make the difference between a really good match and a less than successful experience.

Are there qualifications or licensing to become an independent educational consultant?
Licensure does not exist in any state and anyone can hang up a shingle claiming to be an independent educational consultant. Potential IECA members go through an extensive application process. They must have a master's degree (or equivalent), at least three years of admissions counseling experience, experience working with scores of students, and have visited 50 campuses before they can be considered for professional membership. In addition, all members must agree to abide by our Principles of Good Practice and submit their marketing materials for review to ensure they accurately reflect the IEC's role.
Articles

Top 10 Ways Advisors Can Help Students Stand Out for College
As an independent educational consultant, I have had the opportunity to work with a wide range of students from high schools across the country."
Source: Lisa Bleich, IECA (NJ), in Leadership for Student Activities magazine, published by the National Association of Secondary School Principals

Entry into the American University System
"The good news is that there is room for everyone, regardless of ability or talent or interests. What is required is motivation, maturity, self-discipline and responsibility. It is a major, life determining decision and a large investment of time and financial resources, so students should take it seriously."
Source: Alan Haas, IECA (CT), in American British Trade & Investment 2013

Ethical Guideposts for Independent Educational Consultants
When you work as an independent educational consultant (IEC), however, both the source of your authority and the rules of behavior grow from your personal actions and internal compass. Such authority, ethical guideposts, and of course your reputation are won on a daily basis.
Source:
Mark H. Sklarow, Executive Director, IECA, reprinted from NACAC's Journal of College Admission, Winter 2011
>>read more

24 Things to Look for in an Adoption Competent Residential Program
Adopted youth in residential treatment and education programs present with similar emotional and behavioral challenges as other students. However, there are additional issues unique to adoption.
Source: Sharon Roszia, President & CEO, Kinship Center, reprinted from Insights, June/July 2010.
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Educational Consultants Help Students Find the 'Right' School/Program
In these uncertain economic times, many families face competing goals: providing the education and support their child needs to thrive and succeed, but to do so in an affordable way that doesn't compromise the family's financial stability. Evidence suggests that a good educational consultant is a family's best ally in meeting both of these demands.
Source:
SEEN Magazine, reprinted from Winter 2008 issue.
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Top 10 Areas of Support for Students with Asperger's and LD As They Transition to College
As the number of people diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders including Asperger's syndrome, ADD, and other learning differences explodes to nearly one in 100, it is important to address the type of support these individuals will need as they transition to college.
Source:
by Michael P. McManmon, Ed.D., College Internship Program, reprinted from Insights, April 2010.
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Children's Emotional Needs: The Neglected Link in Education

Consider the statistics: One in ten public school children in Minneapolis are homeless, and more than 18 percent of children in the United States under age 17 live below the poverty line. While the national four-year graduation rate for white students is over 70 percent, for black and Hispanic males it is 56 percent and 54 percent respectively. Against these images of poverty and desperation, school leaders face budget shortfalls resulting in the reduction of social workers and support services. The problems are complex.
Source:
Joan Casey, IECA member (Massachusetts) reprinted from Insights, August/September 2009.
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Accommodations for College Students with Learning and Other Disabilities: What's Reasonable?
But for educational consultants who are accustomed to working with students who receive the accommodation of extended time in high school, this high profile litigation begs the question, "How can I help my students navigate college accommodations, and what accommodations are considered reasonable?"
Source:
Kendra Johnson, Ed.D., IECA (VA), reprinted from Insights, April 2010.
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New Ethics Policy to Provide Framework for Consultant Business Models
Last fall the Board created a Business Ethics Task force "to articulate policy relative to business models both old and new with the dual intent of promoting the highest standards of business ethics and assisting members to earn a living." As a result the Board extended the language of Section V of the current Principles of Good Practice to read as follows.

Source: Dodge Johnson, Vice President for Ethics and Professional Practices, reprinted from Insights, August/September 2009.
>> read more
>> IECA's Principles of Good Practice

Parents And Educational Consultants: Partners In The School Search
Teamwork is necessary to make a good school choice. Educational consultants know schools and can help you understand their differences so you can make an informed decision about which is most appropriate for your child.
Source: Steven R. Antonoff, Ph.D., CEP (Article republished with permission of The VincentCurtis Educational Register, Falmouth, MA)
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Where in the World Is the Ideal Boarding School?
Examining the synergies between schools and the communities in which they live.
Source: Brian R. Wright, M.P.A., M.A., Ph.D. (Article republished with permission of The VincentCurtis Educational Register, Falmouth, MA)
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Independent School Accreditation: A Guide To School Choice
New England Association of Schools and Colleges Accreditation testifies that a school's program is what it purports to be and that the school is living up to high standards, including a commitment to its own pursuit of improvement. It may also help families identify questions and establish parameters concerning the appropriateness of a school for their child.
Source: William M. Bennett, B.A., M.A. (Article republished with permission of The VincentCurtis Educational Register, Falmouth, MA)
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Choosing an Independent School
Parents have an obligation to visit several and assess first-hand the climate and culture of each school, how teachers teach, students learn and everyone treats one another
Source: Patrick F. Bassett, M.A. (Article republished with permission of The VincentCurtis Educational Register, Falmouth, MA)
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Testing for Admissions to Independent School
Certified Counselor Individually administered testing provides information that can be used by parents, students and schools to satisfactorily determine the most appropriate educational program for the student.
Source: Dr. Bernice W. Munsey, Ed.D., LPC (Article republished with permission of The VincentCurtis Educational Register, Falmouth, MA)
>> read more

International Student Advising: A Primer for Undergraduate Admission Consultants
by Theresa Leary M.ED., IECA Associate Member (Massachusetts)
Source: "Insights"
>> read more

College Consulting: A Transformed Profession
Last fall I offered a presentation with this title at the conference of the National Association for College Admission Counseling. As attendees filed in to the room...
Source: "Insights"
>> read more

Top 12 Strengths Colleges are Looking for in the Class of 2014 Graduates
IECA Survey Results Revealed with IECA's CEO, Mark Sklarow
In this podcast, we'll reveal the results of IECA's 2014 survey of hundreds of IECA members. The results show a greater change this year than any year since we began the survey.
Click here to watch the podcast

The Value of Hiring an Educational Consultant

IECA executive director Mark Sklarow talks about the value of hiring an educational consultant, even during tough economic times, including how a consultant can ultimately save families money. The podcast can be accessed through AdmissionsQuest.
Source: The Boarding School Podcast is a publication of AdmissionsQuest (AQ). AQ serves as community hub for families asking questions and learning about boarding schools.

Inside the Admission Office
Here is a unique opportunity to hear directly from admissions directors on the process of reviewing college applications: WSJ On Campus, from The Wall Street Journal Presents Inside the Admissions Office. Deans of admission from eight colleges discuss the admissions process. Thanks to our colleagues at Unigo.com for making this podcast availble to our members and their clients.
Source: wsj.unigo.com

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