Unlike an agent, independent educational consultants (IECs) provide unbiased advice about university options and admission processes, including those in other countries. Independent from universities, schools, and educational programs, IECA members are not contracted or paid by these institutions. IECs work directly for, and are compensated by, families. They refer students to any school or college that is the right fit for a student’s academic, social, and cultural needs.

School & College Recruiters are compensated directly by a specific school or college. Their job is to recruit as many applicants to that school as possible—even as admit rates among those students may be low. A recruiter can be a good source of information about a specific college or school.

Agents hold contracts with a few schools or colleges. They are paid based on the number of students who enroll in those schools. Media reports have demonstrated that agents often recommend these contracted schools exclusively, regardless of whether it is a good fit for the student. Many agents have been accused of a wide range of unethical practices. Two-thirds of US colleges, including most well-known and selective colleges, refuse to work with agents.