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My Journey to Become an Independent Educational Consultant: A Song in Progress

Ryan Luse

by Ryan Luse

Substantial changes and choices in life have always had a music-like quality for me. My recent decision to become an independent educational consultant and leave the corporate life behind is certainly one of those transformative tunes. I like to think of this career ride I have jump started as more lyrical than linear with notes from my past, present and future, interconnected like a jazz symphony. This new direction was not without false starts, however, and if I am just figuring out the chorus at thirty, at least it is finally ringing loud and true. So if you have a moment let me hum you a little ditty on how the chords of time took me from Emerson College to this blog—and I’ll try to keep it short and sweet.

If you could randomly gaze upon my journey in little flashes like one of those retro viewmasters, one may not necessarily see me choosing anything close to the independent educational consulting realm. Over a decade ago when I roamed the halls of Eagan High School in Minnesota, time seemed different back then and I was in no real hurry to grow up. Fun usually trumped grades and living in the moment was more tangible than a far off destination like college. I did have a bright light in my life, however, a family member who was in the college counseling field. This person saw in me creative promise and declared early on Emerson was the school for me. I remember briefly meeting with another high school guidance counselor (although he preferred his football coach title), who had to be reminded where Emerson was located. The road from being a lackluster student to getting into my dream school did not easily fall into place like a Lennon/McCartney composition. The process took work. Whether it was adding AP classes, joining activities or tweaking my essay, nothing was handed to me and I had to meet her in the middle. Yes, it was the independent thinking and personalized guidance of an independent educational consultant (IEC) combined with my own independent persistence that created the duet that truly set Emerson in motion. It was a journey that resonated with me loud enough to awaken my inner career soul later in life and lead me to pursue an IEC career path myself.

I loved my experience at Emerson and it was in college where I truly discovered so much about life and the world around me. The motto for my college is: “Expression is necessary for evolution.” Looking back on it all, I see my own evolutionary thread. I was going from suburban Minnesota to big city Boston and being challenged creatively like never before.

The gap between graduating from Emerson and the recent epiphany to pursue this new field gave me a variety of experience and insight as if I was subconsciously preparing myself for this. I believe I would not have been ready to start my own business right after college—I needed life experience and I needed to explore. In the corporate world I gained an understanding of building customer relationships while strengthening my persuasive and communication skills. I also learned and mastered computers and technology, especially the powerful tool of the Internet. I also realized perhaps the most important lesson—that the corporate world was not my calling. I found myself volunteering with students and helping out the same IEC who helped me by creating lists and researching academic information. It didn’t take long to realize that I wanted my own stage and my own original gig instead of just that guy who sings in a cover band.

As I take these initial steps of being back in school and getting used to common IEC concepts like Naviance and early action, I find myself with a daunting yet thrilling mountain of learning. I am currently enrolled at UCLA to be CCR’d (that’s college counselor certified for those of you who like random acronyms), and after registering for my third class just this week I can already sense my future will be more clear. The beautiful feeling of knowing what is possibly ahead is like sending off your first college application or that flash of inspiration for a college essay or a blog later in life.

The unwritten future has sparked a concert of hope within me. I recognize this will be a career change layered with frustration and change, but the journey will be soul-stirring and rewarding as well. I view an IEC as a visionary who unlocks the future within individuals and helps guide them into one of life’s most epic steps. I know this because somebody saw it in me. My experiences thus far in my classes, networking, and observations are not just the next step in my life but it is what my life has been leading up to. It is up to me to shape what the future will hold, but as I will tell one of my students someday, “the future is the best part.” I see the components of my past, present, and future running parallel with each other like a timeless song. They may not all lead to the same destination, but they are one of the same journey. I know this song went on a little long but it needed to be sung. I look forward to meeting IECA members. Thanks for listening; goodnight and rock on!


7 Responses to My Journey to Become an Independent Educational Consultant: A Song in Progress

  1. Thanks for sharing your song Ryan. A great lyric bordering on epic story.

  2. Thank you, Ryan. As a fellow newly-minted IEC, I can really relate. It can be pretty exciting to re-invent yourself and take a new path that is full of promise.

  3. Sandra says:


    “You’re singing to the choir,” as they say–and I’m harmonizing/humming along to your beautiful song…

    Thanks for the wonderful reverie,

  4. Ellen says:

    Hi Ryan,

    I am considering the field of educational consulting. I have one year to finish my Ed.D. Are you taking classes to be certified in this area?


    • Ryan Luse says:

      Hi Ellen,

      Thanks for your question and it’s nice to meet other people who are going into this field. I am a little over the halfway mark to be certified in the college counseling program through UCLA Extension. Here is a link of the courses I am taking:

      Overall it has been a mostly busy and fulfilling learning experience although I sometimes miss the live classroom setting I had in my own college experience. The most valuable lessons are when I am working proactively and observing other counselors, touring colleges and networking with people like you.

      Would I recommend the UCLA program to others? Absolutely, the teachers have been great and have met some innovative and dynamic people just being online. Feel free to email me if you any more questions about the College Counseling Certification at UCLA.

      Good luck,

      Ryan Luse

  5. Amy Levin says:

    Ryan, are you pursuing the College Counseling certification completely online? Did you consider any other programs? Is UCLA the best?
    I always assumed you needed a Masters in Counseling or Education to become an IEC but that doesn’t seem to be the case from your situation. I already have a MBA and really didn’t want to get another Master’s degree.

  6. Amy Bahr says:

    Hi Ryan,
    Like you, I’ve been in the corporate world. What are the pros and cons of entering this profession, say, in your 50’s?
    Thanks for the insight,

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