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International Association for College Admission Counseling (IACAC) - Everything You Need to Know

Embarking upon a career as an Independent Educational Consultant (IEC) introduces professionals to a constantly evolving landscape. Within this context, professional organizations such as the International Association for College Admission Counseling (IACAC) assume a pivotal role, serving as a community and resource for consultants aiming to elevate their expertise and broaden their horizons. These organizations offer comprehensive support for industry insights, collaborative opportunities, and knowledge pertaining to the dynamic field of education consultancy on a global scale.

At the core of the IACAC lies a comprehensive repository of resources and programming designed to empower professionals across all stages of their careers. For those entering the field, the IACAC provides a wealth of guidance, mentorship avenues, and a supportive network poised to share collective wisdom. Simultaneously, experienced consultants benefit from a conducive environment for refining methodologies, remaining attuned to emerging trends, and engaging in meaningful exchanges with industry luminaries. 

Considering joining a professional educational consulting organization? In this blog, we’ll discuss the International Association for College Admissions Consulting, or IACAC, running through its structure, resources, and opportunities, finishing with our review of joining the IACAC. 

What is the IACAC?

The IACAC, is a global organization dedicated to supporting and connecting admissions consultants with professional development opportunities, educational resources, and other members of the field. 

The IACAC’s mission is “to facilitate global interaction among counselors and institutions in support of secondary students transitioning to higher education while promoting professional standards that fosters ethical and social responsibility.” To this end, members receive a host of benefits and opportunities, including regular conferences, events, and networking opportunities for educational consultants, focusing on supporting the needs of an International community of students. 

The Association additionally facilitates advocacy and outreach initiatives to promote financial accessibility in higher education and increased diversity at colleges and universities across the globe. These efforts range from creating Guides to Ethical Practice in College Admission to funding grants to assist students from underrepresented regions such as Uganda, Nepal, and DRC. As most educational consultants are well aware of the imbalanced college counseling resources available to students based on their socioeconomic status or country of origin, the IACAC stands out as a resource to fight the inequality often inherent to the educational consulting profession. 

Who joins the IACAC? How can I join?

IACAC members come from a diverse range of backgrounds, defined by the Association as “primary and secondary school counselors, independent counselors, college admission and financial aid officers, enrollment managers, and organizations engaged in guiding students through the secondary to higher education.” 

With over 3,000 members from 90 countries, you’ll be guaranteed to interact with a diverse array of professionals who can grow your knowledge in your own regional or educational area of expertise or expose you to unfamiliar international perspectives in the field. There is no presumption of background or experience level, so if you’re new to the field, don’t let this deter you! 

To apply for membership in the IACAC, you’ll complete a specific application based on your affiliation with either: secondary schools, colleges or universities, Non-Profit, For-Profit, or Community-Based Organizations, or as an individual, independent, or retired consultant. Unfortunately, detailed information on the process is unavailable to the public, and only accessible once you begin an application.   

To remain an IACAC member, you’ll need to pay a yearly membership fee; these fees vary based on affiliation. You can learn more details about membership here.

Which conferences does the IACAC host?

The IACAC hosts its largest event — the International ACAC Conference — once each year, where members from across the globe convene at a university campus for 3 days of educational and professional development. 

The International ACAC Conference provides a comprehensive range of programming. You'll attend networking events, speaking with EICs from myriad countries, backgrounds, and experience. Other offerings include educational sessions on specialized topics in admissions consulting and “TED-style” Conference Chats discussing personal examples and guidance for others in “informative and inspirational” lectures. Another great Conference resource is the College and Counselor Fairs, where attendees can connect with college and university representatives, and learn more about the nuances of individual schools’ admissions processes and educational missions. 

If you’re unable to attend the International ACAC Conference or are hoping to gain specialized knowledge of the admissions landscape in the specific country or countries in which you work, keep an eye out for Regional Institute opportunities — smaller events focusing on the nuances of education consulting within a specific part of the world. Possessing vastly different secondary educational systems, advising needs, and student profiles, these conferences are a valuable opportunity to understand “the challenges and opportunities students face” when applying to a school outside of their country.or international region.  

The IACAC offers individualized programming for six regions: The Americas, Europe, the Middle East & North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, South & Central Asia, and East Asia, Southeast Asia, & Oceania. There are two regional conferences held annually, and each IACAC-recognized region is guaranteed to host at least one conference every three years. 

If you’d like to enhance your conference experience, IACAC members also have the opportunity to propose their own Educational Sessions and Conference Chats. 

Although conference attendance is technically open to all members of the IACAC, note that there are attendance regulations, and caps on the number of IECs who can attend from the same institution or member organization. So, for those interested in joining the conference, fully-independent educational consultants should sign up early, while those affiliated with a school or consulting organization should coordinate eligibility to attend. 

What other resources does the IACAC offer?

If you’re interested in finding other ways to become involved with the IACAC, there is a broad assortment of opportunities ranging from professional development to hosting educational programming to taking on a leadership role in the Association. We’ll discuss a few stand-out opportunities to consider.

Mentor Year Program

Navigating the education consulting industry can be challenging! As the college admissions landscape is constantly in flux, providing effective guidance to students from a wide array of backgrounds, interests, and skill sets can prove difficult without knowledge of ongoing trends and 

For newer IECs, there are additional opportunities beyond general member programming to gain personalized support as you continue to develop your skills. The International ACAC Mentor Year Program offers IECs with three or fewer years of experience in the field the chance to partner with an experienced mentor to gain 1-on-1 support in professional development. 

Note that this resource is not accessible to brand-new members; prospective mentees must have been IACAC members for at least one year.

Continuing Education

Whether you’d like to learn more about specialized topics in education consulting or share your expertise with other IECs, the IACAC provides multiple avenues for your goals. Hosting regular webinars and member-exclusive programming and events, learning more about the industry from other members is by no means restricted to International or Regional Conferences. If you have some insider tips or areas of expertise, IACAC members are eligible to submit proposals to host a webinar or educational event of their design. 

Other Opportunities

If you’re looking for more chances to get involved with the IACAC, the possibilities don’t end here! Whether holding a position on the Executive Board or an official Committee, writing content for the IACAC blog or Facebook page, or applying for grants, IACAC membership guarantees your ability to engage closely with the international IEC community. 

Our review 

Overall, membership in the IACAC is an incredible opportunity for those working in educational consulting, especially Independent Consultants. 

As an IACAC member, you’ll get the chance to learn from fellow professionals across your country and the world, increasing the scope and depth of your knowledge. Through the extensive network of IACAC consultants, you can connect with potential mentors or contacts to help expand your business, boosting your clientele and professional growth. As clients typically desire EICs with deep knowledge of the admissions process at a wide array of schools, organized college fairs allow you to gain insider information about individual colleges without arranging continuous campus visits. You’ll also get the chance to build your credentials beyond student results or years of experience — hosting educational events, winning IACAC awards and grants, or serving as an Association leader can all demonstrate your expertise. 

Even with the massive amount of resources you’ll have access to, membership fees for Independent Consultants are only $55 each year, significantly lower than those of most professional organizations.  For the amount of support you’ll receive as a member, this is a highly-effective investment as you develop your EIC career. 

Finally, the outreach and advocacy missions of the IACAC make membership especially compelling. By leveraging your educational consulting skills to assist underrepresented students attain their educational goals, you can help level the playing field in the increasingly competitive college admissions process. 

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 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.

Image Source: IACAC logo



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