by Gail Meyer, IECA President & Ann Rossbach, IECA President-elect
The Independent Educational Consultants Association acknowledges that the landscape of college admissions is shifting and that initiatives that disrupt the status quo have the potential to produce positive change even while creating the increased anxiety that change brings. The stated mission of Coalition for Access and Affordability, a new application platform proposed by over 80 colleges, is to increase college access for low-income and under-represented students, creating a more equitable system for all students. Our association is similarly dedicated to this mission.
IECA applauds the goals of the Coalition to promote college access and affordability and to “instill a college-centered mindset in low-income students as a means of helping them in the admissions process.” We agree that establishing a college culture in high schools through educational activities with the intention of informing students about post-secondary educational options can decrease stress associated with the college application process, while giving students a profound sense of what is possible. We are enthusiastic about this new format despite concerns about starting this new application platform too quickly and the need for greater collaboration with school counselors, teachers, and independent educational consultants (IECs). Like any new admissions platform, school-based counselors and IECs will require sustained support and education to implement it as intended by the Coalition. School-based counselors are already overextended; recent data (ASCA) shows the average counselor to student ratio is 491:1. For many their role in the college search and application process is just a small part of their overall responsibilities. Particularly in low-income schools targeted in the Coalition’s effort, the same counselors are often involved in family crisis management, peer disputes, course selection, LD accommodations, and a host of administrative duties.
IECA members actively work with students and families not only privately, but also through CBOs, foundations, and in secondary schools where college advising is limited. In fact, 97% of our members perform substantive pro bono work in their communities (based on a 2015 survey). Consequently, our members assist, encourage, and guide students who might not otherwise be engaged in the college admissions process. In addition, IECA is dedicated to providing information to members, schools, and families regarding the complex intersection of college affordability, school fit, and access through workshops, webinars, and publications. Given that our members work with and serve a broad and diverse demographic of families and students, we would welcome an invitation to be involved with the Coalition for Access and Affordability.
We are dedicated to educating and mentoring adolescents and young adults through an exciting transition period in their lives. We can help promote the goals of the Coalition for Access and Affordability while being cognizant of the educational, emotional, and developmental needs of the students we serve. The mission of the Coalition for Access and Affordability is both clear and commendable; it advances positive societal implications that IECA fully supports. As advocates, we believe our philosophy and breadth of experience would make our organization an asset to the Coalition. Our nearly 1,500 members are highly qualified, thoroughly vetted experts and abide by our Association’s strict Principles of Good Practice.
IECA believes that by working together we can better understand student needs and the myriad reasons that some underprivileged and minority students do not seek admission to many of the nation’s most competitive and outstanding universities. We look forward to opening a discussion with the members of the Coalition regarding a role for IECA during this important time.