Embarking on the journey toward higher education can be a daunting task for both students and their families. As the college admissions landscape continues to grow in competitiveness and complexity, Independent Educational Consultants (IECs) emerge as valuable guides for students, creating a personalized path to success.
Unlike the broader roles of school guidance counselors, IECs specialize exclusively in college prep and admissions, offering a customized service to a limited number of families. As an IEC, your mission is to delve into the nuances of each student's academic journey, dissecting grades, extracurricular activities, volunteer experiences, and work history. Armed with this information, you’ll provide tailored recommendations to bolster their applications and identify unique and strategic opportunities.
One distinguishing aspect of independent consulting lies in the meticulous attention given to every student. With an intimate understanding of the college landscape, IECs provide comprehensive support and strategy recommendations that go beyond typical college counseling or online research. From brainstorming ideas for compelling admissions essays to meticulously navigating the labyrinth of financial aid and scholarship applications, the role of an IEC transcends the conventional boundaries of college guidance.
Why become an Independent Education Consultant?
For those interested in education, IEC positions can be far more lucrative than working as a teacher, administrator, or school counselor. Stephen Bozak, a certified IEC, notes that salaries in the field often exceed $100,000, with hourly rates upwards of $150 and long-term “retainer” services costing thousands of dollars. If you’re passionate about working as an educator but discouraged by often subpar salaries offered by schools, becoming an IEC can be a strategic financial choice.
If you’re wondering about job prospects, Independent Educational Consultants are in high demand — recent survey data shows that approximately 26% of high-achieving high schoolers work with a professional education consultant. The study additionally found that 70% of high-achieving students identified prestige or strength of academic programs as their top priority in choosing a college. Students and their families are deeply committed to approaching college applications strategically, in order to increase their odds at top schools, and find the perfect academic “fit”. In this climate, IECs are a highly-desirable resource due to their professional and specialized knowledge of colleges and admissions trends.
How can I become an IEC?
Feeling confident that education consulting is the right path for you?
There is generally no required training or background for IECs, but there are general industry standards that can affect your success in the field. The most important credentials are linked to a consultant’s results, such as the number of clients accepted to top-ranked schools or years of experience.
However, what if you’re just getting started in your independent educational consultant career? If you’re still building experience, becoming a certified independent educational consultant can be an ideal way to boost your credentials and demonstrate your skill and reliability.
Organizations such as the Independent Educational Consultants Association provide formal recognition of an IEC’s professional talent and qualifications. These programs additionally connect you with a strong network of other college admissions specialists, growing your professional development and connections within the industry.
In this post, we’ll provide a deep dive into one opportunity for entering the realm of professional Independent Education Consultant work — the IECA Summer Training Institute for Educational Consultants.
What is the IECA Summer Training Institute?
Hosted by the Independent Educational Consultant Association — the most widely recognized IEC professional network — the IECA Summer Training Institute is a five day program geared towards aspiring IECs or those who have recently entered the profession.
The IECA describes the Institute’s goal as to “set you up for success as you learn more about managing and promoting a business, working effectively with students and families, building a knowledge of the wide range of options available to students, and establishing a professional, competent, and ethical practice.”
We've also covered content around IECA's other resources, memberships, and upcoming conferences in this blog, in case you want to check it out!
How much does the IECA Summer Training Institute cost?
The fees for attending the Institute are listed as approximately $1,200 for non-IECA members and $1,100 for IECA members. However, the organization has not officially confirmed these fees.
The 2024 IECA Summer Training Institute will take place from July 22 - 26, and is fully virtual.
If you’re hoping to attend, applications for the Institute will become available in February 2024 on IECA’s registration page. If you’d like to be notified once registration opens, you can contact info@IECAonline.com with a request for event registration updates.
During the five days of the Institute, you’ll be in programming for the majority of the day. Typically, educational events begin in the early morning and continue through the afternoon. During the evening, you’ll have the opportunity to network with other attendees, as well as Institute panelists and experienced IECA members.
The IECA Summer Training Institute offers diverse programming for attendees, both in structure and subject matter. You’ll attend a mix of larger seminars and panel discussions, interactive workshops, and small group discussions and mentoring sessions.
Institute-wide events will cover key information to know as a new IEC: entrepreneurship and marketing, legal and professional responsibilities, communication skills, and essential counseling knowledge.
A particular strength of the Institute lies in the array of choices for educational events. Though sessions focusing on the topics above are required for all attendees, the IECA offers unique programming based on your area of specialization: undergraduate admissions, graduate school admissions, secondary school education, or supporting students with behavioral, learning, or emotional issues. Based on the specialization you select, your Institute schedule will be supplemented with elective workshops, building in-depth knowledge of a specific approach to the field.
While the Institute is specifically geared towards aspiring or new IECs, the IECA does not provide specific details on eligibility or the admissions and registration process.
However, based on available materials from past Institutes, application materials seem to be limited to a resume/CV, and admissions are not depicted as a competitive process. This implies that you should be eligible to attend as long as you meet the criteria of an incoming or recently-starting Independent Educational Consultant.
Pros & Cons
You’ll gain comprehensive professional support: Affiliation with IECA will expand your knowledge and resources as an Independent Education Consultant in myriad ways. While there is a heavy focus placed on essential educational skills, you’ll learn how to actually succeed in the field. Remember, even if you’re an expert on education and college admissions, this won’t matter if you can’t get your business off the ground!
You’ll have a unique opportunity to specialize: As we’ve discussed, the main draw for hiring EICs is their expertise and personally-tailored advice. As the Institute guarantees elective workshops, you’ll gain detailed knowledge in your area of specialization with specific techniques for supporting your client base.
You’ll build impressive credentials: Especially as a new IEC, gaining accreditation and boosting your resume is immensely important in attracting clients. Attending the IECA Summer Training Institute will not only show that you’re qualified for the job, but that you’re established in the field.
Your in-person networking is limited: As an unfortunate outcome of the pandemic, IECA is now completely online. Though you’ll still have opportunities to speak 1-on-1 with panelists, top IECA members, and other new IECs, it’ll be trickier to connect with everyone you’d like to meet, and will require more proactive networking on your end. (However, the online format does make the Institute much cheaper!)
You’ll require paid membership to stay connected: Though you’ll gain access to great educational resources and events over the Institute’s five days, the IECA’s other benefits — ongoing education and training, exclusive connections with colleges and universities, support with client recruitment, and more — are restricted to Association members. Fees for new members can range from $160 to $300 yearly.
Overall, the IECA Summer Training Institute is a great opportunity for new Independent Educational Consultants or those planning to join the field. From getting connected with the professional community to learning entrepreneurial skills to specializing your knowledge of the industry, the Institute is a truly comprehensive introduction to Independent Educational Consulting. Though its short length and high cost may not be ideal, the Institute is a truly unique opportunity to intensively build your professional knowledge and experience as you begin your journey in Independent Educational Consulting.
If you’d like to recommend a rigorous research program open to high schoolers, you may want to consider the Lumiere Research Scholar Program, a selective online high school program for students founded by researchers at Harvard and Oxford. Last year, we had over 4000 students apply for 500 spots in the program! You can find the application form here. You can also reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org to know more, or to have a chat about possible collaborations!
Also check out the Lumiere Research Inclusion Foundation, a non-profit research program for talented, low-income students. Last year, we had 150 students on full need-based financial aid!
Stephen is one of the founders of Lumiere and a Harvard College graduate. He founded Lumiere as a Ph.D. student at Harvard Business School. Lumiere is a selective research program where students work 1-1 with a research mentor to develop an independent research paper.
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