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Jul 22

Written by: kmurphy
Wednesday, July 22, 2009 

A recent article written by Jacques Steinberg of the The New York Times has generated much controversy about the value of a college consultant.  The article attempted to point out that there is a gross difference in the professionalism in the industry and even highlighted a few consultants that had fudged their level of experience. The article also featured a few consultants that I would deem “sexy” as they are controversial for the fees that they charge, which is not representative of the national average.  While these consultants are able to charge $40,000, the national average for IECA (Independent Educational Consultants Association) consultants is $3,600. It is unfortunate that the readers have focused on those highlighted and have accused consultants as being greedy and slick.  We are not.  Our goal is not unlike that of a guidance counselor or even a parent – we want to see that the student has some great choices come April.  Yet, unlike a guidance counselor, we pay our own travel expenses to visit colleges around the country (on average – 30 per year), our own health insurance, membership dues, and all related business expenses. You will find that most earn a very modest living and do this because we truly want to help students.

As the profession is relatively unregulated, it is important for the readers of The Times to realize that Mr. Steinberg has done a huge injustice to those of us who have a wealth of experience, who belong to professional organizations such as IECA, who attend national conferences and who adhere to ethical practices.  We do not fudge our experience, nor do we make promises about “getting” a student in.  We do not focus on Ivy League schools, but rather focus on finding the best fit for our student, whatever that may be. We do not just work with the rich, but with families who come from all walks of life. Students aren’t all overachievers either, who can often successfully navigate the process on their own.  And realize, not all families are savvy about what options are available to them as they may only be familiar with schools in their home states.  My job is not to get a student into college, but rather help them find a place where they will thrive.  Only through hard work can a student can get themselves into college.

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