by Mark H. Sklarow, CEO, Independent Educational Consultants Association

I am pleased that in response to the recent college admission scam, many are looking for solutions that address colleges, athletic programs, the role of privilege, and the role of independent college counselors. Unfortunately, some have suggested a solution that would increase the benefits to the already privileged.

Some opinion pieces have appeared suggesting that no one should be allowed to charge for college admission advice. This attitude favors the wealthy, privileged families that are able to send their children to private schools, often costing in the tens of thousands of dollars and whose college counselors serve small numbers of just 20-30 students. Such a system provides a benefit to those privileged enough to provide such support, while leaving public school students behind. These public schoolers often face impossible ratios of 600 to 900 students per counselor—with that counselor handling crisis intervention, course selection, as well as college advising.

Independent Educational Consultants (IECs) help level the playing field by supporting working- and middle-class students who go to public school, by allowing families of more modest means to gain similar expert help and advice at an hourly rate that is affordable for most. In addition, all members of IECA commit to efforts to serve those from underserved communities.

Those that want to stop the use of all paid assistance (would they refuse paid tutors for students struggling in school, as well?) misunderstand the fundamental role of independent educational consultants. IECs help students explore college opportunities and find the right place for them to succeed academically and socially. IECs don’t get students admitted—they help students demonstrate why they deserve to be admitted at appropriately chosen schools. They help students find colleges they might not have heard of—often out of their region—and they help students put their best foot forward.



  1. Nicely done, Mark. There is more to the story that we will all be addressing in coming days and weeks. Thanks for leading the way in helping to maintain balance and perspective in a vexing situation for the entire educational establishment.

    1. Indeed, Alan. As the news has shifted from the bribery scandal to issues surrounding admission, we need to continue to tell our story. Helping students and parents to better understand how admission decisions work is part of what IECA members do so well.

  2. As a new small business located in an area of those with modest income, I have been concerned the recent scandals would affect the opportunity to promote and grow my business. Reading this article has lifted my spirits. Thank you!

    1. What the scandal has produced is increased awareness of the profession, couple with an increased desire for well prepared, capable, ethical IECs. This is the perfect time to launch your business… be sure to look for ways to help those with modest incomes to afford your services: spreading out payments, smaller packages, hourly fees.

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