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The Hidden Work That We Do

Emily Snyder

by Emily Snyder, Professional Member, Independent Educational Consultants Association (Virginia)

With the media always focused on the high price of college consulting, I became reflective in a meeting this week where I was asked by Shirley Levin, a professional IECA colleague of mine who practices in Maryland, to talk with her and IECA’s CEO, Mark Sklarow, about how to best utilize resources in the DC metro area to help first generation, underrepresented high school graduates prepare for the transition to college.

IECA's Shirley Levin

IECA’s Shirley Levin

As we discussed the specifics of moving forward with the goals that had been established through a PCACAC Student Support Grant that Shirley had applied for and won, titled Summer Bridge to College, I was in awe of the quiet work that we do as independent educational consultants (IECs) that often goes unnoticed in the midst of the harried, business-oriented world that we actually live in. I was impressed that upon hearing of this project that gets to the heart of why so many of us entered the college consulting field in the first place—to help these at-risk students who otherwise might not achieve their potential—IECs and others in the DC education community were asking, “What can I do to help?”

Shirley’s immediate response to this question by anyone who asks is, “A lot.” With a small $800 grant, Shirley’s vision is to provide 20 of this particular population of students and their families who will be attending two of our local universities this fall—University of Maryland and George Mason University—with some post-high school counseling resources that will help them successfully matriculate at college. The stated goal of the grant, which may involve 10 additional IECA member volunteers, is to ensure that these first-generation accepted students don’t fail to show, by assisting them with planning, preparation, and counseling leading up to the first day of class. Shirley and her colleagues will be coordinating this effort with the UMD and GMU admission offices.

As independent educational consultants working on a daily basis to provide support to students in need of information and knowledge, what better way to give back to our communities and remember our core mission and values than to support those willing to step out and say:  “How can I help?” and “What do you need?”

Along with the grant from PCACAC, support from IECs and others in the DC educational community, and IECA’s willingness to provide us with guidance, suggestions, and simply because of its location, the use of facilities for meetings, should give all of us pause—and serve as a reminder to ourselves, educational communities around the country, the media, and the general public, the real and hidden reasons that we do what we do.



7 Responses to The Hidden Work That We Do

  1. Alan Haas says:

    There are many unsung heroes amongst us, from whom we take great ideas and inspiration. I am humbled often, and I salute you.

  2. Dear Emily and Shirley,

    You are two of the first IECs that I met when I was starting out, and I am still aspiring to do the work that the two of you, and as Alan has said, many many others do! We have lots of shining lights who lead the way for all of us, and constantly remind us of the best that our profession has to offer. I hope to live up to just some of this some day. Thanks for the inspiration and the reminders……

    with a spring smile,
    Carolyn Mulligan

  3. Shirley Levin says:

    Hi Carolyn,

    Many thanks for your kind words. We hope our relatively small first project will grow eventually to a national effort, and give many consultants like you the opportunity to demonstrate why this is such a rewarding profession.
    We’ll keep you posted.


  4. Emily Snyder says:

    Alan and Carolyn,

    Thank you both for your heartfelt comments. None of what any of us accomplish is done in a vacuum. As professional colleagues working together for the betterment of our clients AND the profession, I look forward to the continued learning opportunities that we get from each other. On numerous occassions I’ve heard that it’s impossible to run a financially successful business and provide a service. I’m proud to be associated with a group of consultants who have proven that statement to be a myth!

  5. Nancy Griesemer says:

    I was just updating a column I wrote a couple of years ago on how IEC’s support college-bound students, and I added “Committed” to my list of descriptive words for just the reasons you cited (I’m up from 6 to 9 reasons which I’ll publish on Monday).

    I think we forget sometimes how much this organization and its members do for “behind the scenes” to support the industry as a whole. You won’t read about it in the popular press, but folks like Shirley and Emily are “committed” to both the communities and the clients we serve. And they work tirelessly to help us keep our priorities straight!

    Thank you for all you do!


  6. Zola Dincin Schneider says:

    Dear Shirley and Emily,

    You recognized a need and found a powerful way to help. And this isn’t the first time, either. Great way to go!

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