NEW Legislation in California that will Impact Many IECs

by Mark H. Sklarow, CEO, IECA

California’s State Senate and Assembly have approved legislation with the governor’s support that will change the classification of most contract workers into employees and all of the protections and benefits granted employees, including minimum wage protections.

The legislation will impact all California-based businesses, including independent educational consultants who hire others as contractors to provide tutoring, essay review, financial aid, and more.

The legislation institutes a three-part basis for determining whether someone in California is a contractor or employee, including:
1. Is the job being performed part of the company’s core business?
2. Does the ‘boss’ direct the way the work should be done?
3. Has the worker established an independent trade or business?

A person is considered an employee if they meet ANY of the three standards. So, those who use essay reviewers or test prep tutors would be required to treat those workers as employees as they are part of the IEC’s core business. This would mean meeting other state laws, including paying appropriate taxes, meeting minimum wage guidelines, and providing vacation time for many of those affiliated workers. Even if the essayist establishes his or her own business, “Essay Tutors of Santa Monica” for example, it is unlikely to be enough to categorize the worker as a contractor.

Note that this will not include business-to-business contracting; for example, a web designer hired by an IEC would not be considered an employee since this work is OUTSIDE the core purpose of the business.

If this bill is signed by the governor, it will not take effect until next year. It is expected to grant employee protections to an additional 400,000 workers in the state. The state is acting, in part, to assure that salaried workers will pay into social security and boost state tax revenues.

Stay tuned for updates and additional information. IECA will provide guidance to California-based IECs when details of the law are delineated by state agencies.

Empowering Girls: A Responsibility We All Share

By Jill Dalby PhD, CPCC, Certified Professional Executive Coach, Maroon Creek Coaching LLC

As independent educational consultants (IECs) dedicated to helping students choose the best path to foster academic and social growth, what would you do if you learned that half of your students may not be well served by any of the schools or colleges you are recommending? It sounds absurd, but abundant evidence exists that success in school fails to translate directly into success at work for girls and women. Carol Dweck, Stanford University psychology professor and author of Mindset, summed it up: “If life were one long grade school, women would be the undisputed rulers of the world. But life isn’t one long grade school.”

Girls are better students and better educated than their male counterparts, but they aren’t learning the breakthrough leadership skills they need to be successful in the workforce. In the classroom, they are rewarded for getting it right, being prepared, and conforming to expectations. But girls are not rewarded for taking risks, standing out, thinking on their feet, or making unpopular decisions—all important leadership behaviors.

Understanding what gets in the way of women’s empowerment is a responsibility we all share and doing something about it is our collective obligation. Although there are many ways to steward change, one way to make a difference is to become aware of the ways in which girls and women give away their power and then do something about it. I hope you find the suggestions below, which I originally presented at the IECA 2018 Fall Conference in Los Angeles, to be useful.

Communication Patterns

Women and girls walk the line between saying what they think with clarity and directness and adhering to feminine norms around communication. They have learned that what’s at risk is being heard, feeling valued, and having influence. Consequently, they have adopted habits to get their messages across gently. They hedge by using such words as just, kind of, and almost and qualify their ideas by saying “I’m no expert but…” They may even unknowingly demure by sitting in chairs on the room’s perimeter rather than at the table.

But when women and girls come across as tentative and unsure, they are giving up their power and undermining their message. By helping students recognize when they are using ineffective communication patterns and offering them alternatives to use when it’s wise for them to do so, you help them present themselves as strong, credible, worthy communicators one word at a time.

Be Likable, Then Be Competent

It’s important that girls and women understand the value of making strategic choices about when, where, and with how much strength to communicate. Psychologists Amy Cuddy, Susan Fiske, and Peter Glick have shown that humans are hardwired for safety and connection. When encountering a stranger, we quickly first want to know if the person is friend or foe and only then do we assess their competence.

Our assessments of competence are slow to change while judgments of friendliness and trustworthiness are easily modified. Further, an unfamiliar person is seen as both warm and competent only when they come from a “high-status” group. Others, such as girls and women, are seen as being either warm or competent, but not both. So, when women and girls begin a conversation with an explanation of their competence and effectiveness before establishing a connection, they can be perceived as being defensive and compensatory.

Use this information to help girls and women understand how to walk the fine line while working to change it. Let all your students know why it’s crucial to create connection and engagement at the beginning of an encounter before discussing skills and abilities and about the cognitive biases formed against low-status groups. Information is power—for you and for the students you serve. By understanding what’s behind the tradeoffs, you can help girls shed ineffective communication habits without setting them up to fail in those environments that aren’t ready for a woman who will adapt her style but won’t compromise her value in order to be heard.

Hiding Strategies

Girls and women are really good at using hiding strategies to mask procrastination and relieve anxious “I’m not ready yet” feelings. Expressed as the tendency to overcomplicate a process, endlessly polish an outcome, curate everyone else’s ideas except her own, and omit her story from the narrative, hiding strategies appear to be important tasks but really keep girls and women playing small because the underlying behaviors don’t produce the forward momentum that catapults them into the spotlight.

Help your students see when they’re making choices that keep them safe but far from centerstage, and then invite them to approach things differently. If they tend to work in isolation, suggest that they tell their friends what they wish to accomplish and ask for feedback. Or explain the benefit of efficiency that comes from sharing an early draft version. If they tend to overcomplicate and overpolish, model clarity and simplicity. And finally, empathically discuss the cost of perfection. As Lisa Damour, clinical psychologist and author of Untangled, pointed out, “We need to remind girls that when any score above 90 counts as an A, the difference between a 91 and 100 is a life.” In your work as IECs, you have the chance to help girls believe in themselves and change their self-limiting behaviors.

Unhealthy Attachments to Praise and Criticism

To know we matter is a fundamental human desire. Rather than looking inward for self-assurance, though, many seek external validation to find their identity and worth. More so than men, women tend to seek outward approval to feel acceptable, worthy, and capable. At the same time, they avoid criticism for fear of feeling unacceptable, unworthy, and incapable. This unhealthy attachment to praise and criticism is another way that girls and women give away their power.

Because strong, capable women seek out feedback and meet with their critics, help reframe your students’ perspective on feedback. Teach them it is an opportunity to learn what others expect; it is not a reflection of worth or intelligence. In doing so, you will support your students to unhook from praise and criticism while growing a healthy self-regard from the inside out.

Fear

We humans are hardwired to attend to our feeling of fear because it protects us from harm—getting eaten by the sabre tooth tiger or falling off the cliff. It motivates us to practice again so that we’re ready for the performance. And it signals a desire to stretch out of a comfort zone in search of our potential. But when healthy fear gets supplanted by imaginary beasts like failure, rejection, and even success, we get hijacked by paralyzing fears and our power is diminished.

Other fears disempower too. Women’s fear of conflict sabotages leadership potential. And women who unnecessarily share their successes with others or use the “royal we” for fear of standing out or appearing selfish, squash their opportunities for recognition and advancement.

When fears remain unexplored, “stuckness” happens, but fears that are faced and overcome become sources of power. The first step is to identify the type of fear that is being experienced and then get curious about it. What is good about it? What is bad about it? What is to be done about it? Supporting girls and women to work with fear rather than against it is crucial to their empowerment because when they triumph over fear, they are emboldened to do more and to be more.

Self-Doubt

Women are ruminators. They are more likely than men to replay what went wrong and to believe they’re at fault. While men tend to get angry, blame others, and move on, women listen to the voice in their head that repeatedly questions and castigates. What ensues is an inner dialogue characterized by self-doubt and feelings of inadequacy. For women, this voice of the inner critic is often the loudest and when that voice speaks, power is silenced.

By encouraging girls to recognize the voice of their inner critic, you help them neutralize its impact. When you suspect a student’s loud and mean voice of self-doubt is talking, ask her to notice it and talk back to it kindly. Teach her to separate herself from the inner critic by giving it a name and distinct characteristics. When it shows up, say: “That doesn’t sound like you. That sounds like your inner critic. Why don’t you tell it ‘Thanks, but no thanks, not today.’” Invite it to go sit in the other room or turn down its volume.

After her inner critic has left them room, call on her inner mentor to come out. That is the voice inside her that wants the best for her always. It speaks in a peaceful, quiet voice from a place of wisdom, love, and guidance. It’s our true north. It’s our mindful self. By helping girls and women identify the many active voices talking at one time, you allow them to overcome the inner critic’s need to keep them playing small and you support a lifelong empowerment process.

These are only a few of the patterned behaviors and socialized processes that disempower women and girls. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Just as Dr. Seuss’s Once-ler made his passionate appeal at The Lorax’s end, I say to you: “Unless someone cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better, it’s not.”

Change happens one person at a time through insight and action. Empowered voices can work together to create systemic change. Whether you change your own actions to model a more empowered approach to life, incorporate these new insights when advising students, or explore ways your own actions may be inadvertently disempowering others, find novel ways to enhance your practices and change your behaviors while simultaneously helping women succeed in the long run, not just the short run. Because if you don’t, who will?

Additional Reading

Sally Helgesen and Marshall Goldsmith, How Women Rise: Break the 12 Habits Holding You Back From Your Next Raise, Promotion, Or Job. Hachette Book Group, New York, 2018.

Katty Kay and Claire Shipman, The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance, What Women Should Know. Harper Collins, New York, 2014

Tara Mohr, Playing Big: Practical Wisdom for Women Who Want to Speak Up, Create and Lead, Penguin Random House, New York, 2014.

Amy Morin, 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do: Take Back Your Power, Embrace Change, Face Your Fears, and Train Your Brain for Happiness and Success. Harper Collins, New York, 2017.

Looking Beyond Today’s Industries and Jobs

By Pamela Kwartler, MA, IECA (NJ)

“There is a mismatch in talent pool and market demand, both currently and in the future. Though academic research often leads business, what’s taught in business courses is generally at least five to ten years behind the business sector.” Those words from economist and business leader Tess Mateo, managing director and founder of CXCatalysts, drive home an important point for IECs: what students learn in today’s business classes will not be enough. We must understand the world our students will graduate into to help them make choices that will propel them forward. Students and families who go on autopilot and reach for a career with a seemingly high ROI today may be surprised by the outcomes. The fact is that none of the fields we know will exist as they are today in the future.

In January 2016, the World Economic Forum introduced leaders of industry, governments, and civil society to the “fourth industrial revolution,” (see www.weforum.org/centre-for-the-fourth-industrial-revolution for more information), a term that CEOs, policymakers, and industry now use to describe how emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence, quantum computing, 3D printing, and the Internet of things, are converging with humans’ biological and physical lives. New technologies will increasingly do more, to the extent that traditionally economically rewarding positions, such as financial analysts, accountants, finance and medical professionals, and even lawyers will become “redundant, and therefore replaceable.” Many Wall Street traders have had to reinvent themselves because their jobs have also been eliminated by technology. Business is evolving more quickly than ever before: large corporations are being broken up as business units are broken into yet smaller companies. Even 50% of the world’s medical services are delivered electronically.

How do IECs help students prepare for new markets and future economic success when the rules have changed? We often observe that it is students—who they are and what they bring to the world—that matter more than where they earn their degrees. An elite education alone will not necessarily provide the answer.

Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang is a Brown-educated, former corporate lawyer, dot-com executive, and CEO of a GMAT test prep company: a symbol of the meritocracy. Today, he doesn’t believe it should be the job of our institutions “to train 80% of our graduates to do one of six things—financial services, management consulting, technology, law, medicine, or academia in New York, San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, Washington, DC, or Los Angeles.” Yang blames the meritocracy for blissfully ignoring the country’s economic crisis and failing to fix problems caused by manufacturing job losses in middle America. The problems that need solving are even bigger than that. Fortunately, so are the opportunities.

Although there is great focus on STEM these days, all majors will matter, and students can study at a wide range of colleges. In 2015, world leaders agreed on the world’s biggest problems, which are collectively referred to the Global Goals or the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). (More information is available at https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/?menu=1300.) For example, consider that tackling the individual problems caused by climate change will create new jobs worldwide. Along with solutions developed by engineers and scientists, environmental studies majors can explore how indigenous people have farmed sustainably for centuries. The skill of diplomacy will be essential to work cross-culturally and make progress within the worldwide community. As the water table rises and the carbon footprint expands, innovation in agriculture will continue to be a priority. These 21st-century businesses, unlike those that have benefited a small sliver of the first world since the 1980s, will improve the quality of life for all. Deep, nuanced thinkers will need to parse and define the ethics of evolving business models and, hopefully, enforce ethical regulations.

What Can IECs Do?

• Learn more about the fourth industrial revolution so that you help your students explore industries with increasing opportunities. Start by reading more at www.cnbc.com/2019/01/16/fourth-industrial-revolution-explained-davos-2019.html.

• Get smart about SDGs—consider using the global goals as a roadmap, then ask your students which topics they are interested in helping solve. These are big problems that will be around for a lifetime. Discover what passions and skills might be useful—there is a demand for many skill sets. (See page two of the following link to see all the goals and share them with your students: www.undp.org/content/dam/undp/library/corporate/brochure/SDGs_Booklet_Web_En.pdf.)

• Ask students what they can do during high school to develop their interests. Can they travel to explore global problems or spearhead local programs that focus on any of the SDGs?

• Research which colleges are positioning themselves to participate in solutions. For example, developing sustainable food systems is a major global problem (SDG #12), and many college agriculture programs are well-positioned to innovate, including Cornell, Ohio State, Purdue, UMass Amherst, PSU, University of Delaware, the University of Arizona, and the University of Illinois Urbana–Champaign, offer options for many academic levels. Some other examples include Goal #16 Peace and Justice (diplomacy, political science, international relations), Goal #11 Sustainable Cities and Communities (urban planning, construction, real estate), or Goal #7 Affordable and Clean Energy (environmental or civil engineering).

We can guide our students toward fulfilling college experiences that incorporate research, productive study abroad programs, and internships that will lead to employment in fields that truly allow them to impact their world—and ours.

Pamela Kwartler, College Process Counseling, can be reached at [email protected]

Change in Status: An Update on the Legislation in California to Register All IECs

By Mark H. Sklarow, CEO, Independent Educational Consultants Association
 
The proposed law to register Independent Educational Consultants, which passed the Senate and Assembly Committees on Business and Commerce, now sits in the Appropriations Committee’s “Suspense File.”
 
The Suspense File is where bills go that are expected to cost taxpayers money that has not been budgeted. By assigning this bill (AB-1312) to the Appropriation’s Committee’s Suspense File, the state is acknowledging that a bill that was meant to be revenue neutral will, if passed, cost the state of California money.
 
The California government has estimated that implementation will cost the state between $12 and $25 million in the first three years! In theory, the next step is for the Appropriations Committee to weigh the benefits vs the cost.
 
In their research, the California government relied heavily on data supplied to them by IECA. Based on this research, our position, and the anticipated cost, they seem likely to conclude that the registry’s cost greatly outweighs any perceived benefit.
 
Moreover, the Suspense File is where California legislature sends bills—hundreds annually—to die. Often these are bills that sound good to voters but have hidden costs and difficulties. This view—that California was getting into more than they realized—is what IECA was advising in part (our argument was that they would either need to rely on us or spend considerable sums vetting IECs on their own).
 
Be aware that the bill could be resurrected. IECA will keep an eye on it and update with any additional information as it becomes available.

What a Year It’s Been!

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

It has been wonderful connecting with so many of you this spring. Whether at the Chicago conference, the symposium, at affiliated conferences and outreach events, or virtually, it is always a highlight to hear from you about your successes and challenges. Now as our 2018–19 membership year comes to a close, I wanted to summarize this extraordinary year.

Recognition of IECA for Ethical Educational Consulting

Just a few hours after the admission scandal story hit the news, we were advising members, posting statements on social media, distributing news releases, and prioritizing the media requests that came pouring in. We believe IECA was mentioned in hundreds of major newspapers, websites, television, and radio stories. We worked to turn the story away from the criminal actions of a few into one focused on the value and need for an independent educational consultant, and IECA’s 43-year history of being the ‘gold standard’ in the profession. Indeed, by day four, this focus on ethical consulting was the primary story being reported. Now as some state governments look to try and legislate our industry, the need to belong to an association is essential.

Website

There has been a 63% increase in public searches for an IECA member in 2018-19 over the previous year! The search has been enhanced by allowing members to describe their practice and include searchable keywords. We have added 7 professional videos to our website in the last year, five of which are consumer-oriented.

We launched our new online community, the Member Network (replacing the TalkList). The increase in member postings as compared to the old TalkList is dramatic. The Network gives members greater control over the discussions they receive via email (based on specialty). It allows for more robust discussion, archival searches on topics, a library to share documents, and facilitates member to member connections.

Educational Opportunities

We organized 35 campus visits before and after our fall conference in Los Angeles and spring conference in Chicago. We also helped promote additional post-secondary, school, and therapeutic campus tours in both communities. Regional tours offered to members this year included the Red, White, and Blues Tour of 10 colleges in Alabama, Illinois, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee; the Big 10+ Tour of 8 colleges in 4 Midwest states; and the upcoming fall WOW Tour of 12 colleges in Western Oregon and Washington.

Tours around the 2019 Fall Conference will include Georgia schools, colleges, and programs; and multiple tours next spring will explore campuses in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. In addition, IECA is working with British, Canadian, and Australian/New Zealand governments to co-sponsor international tours.

Our partnership with School Connections has helped IECA members connect one-on-one with independent schools. These pre-conference workshops at IECA conference hotels now also includes therapeutic programs.

This past year, IECA made a commitment to fund longitudinal research into the impact and effectiveness of therapeutic placements. We will continue this support for the Golden Thread project into the new year.

The Education & Training Committee is developing new ‘Education Intensives’ as a way to add a ‘deep dive’ into critical learning areas for members.

Our free monthly webinars for members ranged from sample essays to executive functioning skills to college planning for students with disabilities (there were a remarkable 2,053 webinar views last year).

Our member-organized College Symposium in Philadelphia was the largest symposium yet, with 140 attendees and included 10 colleges participating. The reviews have been overwhelmingly positive. Next year’s Symposium will take place in Ohio.

We continue to offer our signature Mentoring program to all IECA members at any time during their consultancy. Mentees receive direction and support with the goal of gaining confidence and independence.

Networking Opportunities

Our more than 40 Regional groups across the country and worldwide allow members to connect and collaborate throughout the year.

The annual Professional Member Retreat provides a smaller forum for more experienced members to gather and address advanced business-related topics. The 2020 program will be held in California.

We offer 11 Affinity Groups for members to connect. These micro communities (just added to the Member Network) are led by members with similar interests in a specific topic and provide a space to network about what’s important to you.

We want to thank all of our volunteers—those who serve on committees, who have created campus tours, who present at conferences, who run regional groups, and serve in so many ways. It is the staff’s privilege to work with you as we begin to prepare for another outstanding year.

How IECs Help Level the Playing Field in College Admissions

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.

 

STI Provides Missing Piece: Camaraderie

By Mandy Stangeland, MS, IECA Associate (CA)

Like most of the newer independent educational consultants (IECs) I have met, I jumped into starting my practice without any business experience. I had the knowledge coming from the college side of the admissions desk, but running a business was like speaking a foreign language to me. I took some certificate classes from UC Irvine, which was helpful, but I was still missing something, and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.

Then I signed up for the IECA Summer Training Institute (STI) in 2018. I had read about it and it seemed like the logical next step for someone like me who had a year of experience under my belt but no real traction in my business. I quickly discovered the value in the program and realized what it was I had been missing: camaraderie.

The first thing I noticed was how I felt being on a college campus surrounded by like-minded individuals with similar goals. I thought “Wow, this is how our students must feel on their first day of college.” The IECA staff was there to greet us and was two steps ahead of anything we could possibly need (including the aspirin I required one morning for the unexpected and very unwelcomed migraine).

Our cohort was quick to bond over our experiences and our insecurities, which made everyone feel very comfortable. We were able to easily relax and soak in the abundant amount of information that was not thrown at us but spoon-fed carefully to make sure we relished every bite. There were lectures, break out sessions, special topics, and even special guests flown in from all over the world to help us achieve what so many in this industry have already mastered. I was blown away by the faculty’s willingness to share what had and had not worked for them. They even supplied us with examples of contracts, price sheets, and breakdowns of how they work with clients. What I thought would be impossible to acquire from my competition was delivered to me in a two-inch thick binder that has been worth its weight in gold.

The message was clear: there is plenty of business to go around and we want you to succeed. Our success as business owners is reliant on our success as an industry. When we support each other, we all win, especially the students.

Knowing that IECA and my fellow members have my back gives me the confidence I need to go forward. The people from my STI cohort are more than colleagues, they are friends. We share our best tips with each other, consult with each other based on our niche or expertise, and room together at conferences (often saving a bundle on travel expenses). When there is an IEC event, we often seek each other out via a group text or through our private group Facebook page so we can claim a table and settle in quickly. We have even adopted some honorary members because the goal is to never be exclusive. It’s the inclusive culture of IECA that brings so much value to this industry. And for me, that’s how I know I have chosen the right fit profession.

Mandy Stangeland, Wise Owl College Consulting LLC, can be reached at [email protected] consulting.com.

2019 Summer Training Institutes

July 9–July 13
Claremont McKenna College, Claremont, CA

July 30–August 3
Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, PA

Visit https://link.IECAonline.com/sti for more information.

Decoding Transcripts from China, Russia, and the United Kingdom

By Sarah Contomichalos IECA (ME), Jack Cao, IECA (China), and Elizabeth Cashel, IECA Associate (NY)

International students are an important population for US high schools. Although admissions officers are very aware of the positives this population brings to their schools, it can be challenging to understand and correctly interpret their credentials. When working with the British, Chinese, and Russian elementary and high school national curriculums, for example, it is necessary to understand the grading systems, external exams, how to differentiate the level of the student within each system, and other cultural considerations. Independent educational consultants (IECs) are key to helping schools understand how to read international students’ qualifications.