Finding the right school for a student can be a complex and frustrating
process. School admissions consultants offer a way to change that.
School admissions consultants are often called educational consultants.
Educational consultants work with children and families during a period of
change. Sometimes that change is from private to public school. Or it could
be the placement of a troubled teen or a child with special needs into an
alternative learning environment.
One specialized area of the field deals with the transition from high school
While some consultants deal only with university-bound students, many work
in a variety of areas. There are even admissions consultants that work with
specific professional fields. Some of these fields include law, medicine and
"Educational consultants evaluate a student's needs," says Mark Sklarow.
He is executive director of the Independent Educational Consultants Association
(IECA) in Virginia. "This includes social, educational, familial and emotional
needs. Then they suggest the best possible placements based on their knowledge
Judy Libman is an educational consultant who focuses on university admissions.
The demand for her services is increasing.
"The university admissions process can be very intimidating and anxiety-producing,"
"There are so many choices to be made and so much information to research
and digest. That's why many people find that the help of an expert is invaluable.
In some ways, educational consultants are like personal shoppers for educational
Sklarow believes the field is growing and will continue to do so on both
sides of the border. "Educational consulting is currently undergoing a huge
growth in public awareness and use."
There are several reasons why this profession is on the rise. First, the
cost of going to university is increasing, so it makes sense for students
to get help choosing their school.
Also, school guidance counselors are overworked and can't offer a lot of
time to each student. In the U.S., the average student to counselor ratio
is 477 to 1. Independent consultants see about 40 students per year.
Plus, independent counselors are available outside of normal school hours.
That allows parents to take part. This is especially important now, when families
often have both parents working or are single parent to begin with.
Mothers and fathers simply don't have as much time to guide their child
through the process. For parents of university-aged children with learning
or emotional challenges, the use of an educational consultant makes even more
sense. Many consultants specialize in this type of placement.
School admissions consultants spend up to 30 percent of their time on the
road, according to Sklarow. They visit campuses to see what students there
are really like. They also meet with the school's admission reps to find out
what that particular institution is looking for in potential students.
"Consultants have a real pool of information that can't be matched," says
So how do you get started in this field? There are no legal requirements
for calling yourself an educational or school admissions consultant.
"Anyone could hang out a shingle and declare themselves an educational
consultant," says Sklarow. "That's why families should insist that they have
some credential, like membership in [the] IECA."
To be a member of the IECA, you need a master's degree in a related field
and three years of experience. You also need to have visited 50 campuses and
served at least 25 clients. Potential members also need to supply three references
and sign the organization's Principles of Good Practice document.
"In order to be an educational consultant, you need to be both broadly
and widely experienced," says Libman.
"Most people in this job are former teachers. In my case, I have spent
many years teaching in both high school and in university. I've also spent
many years working in both university recruitment and advising."
Think you have what it takes to succeed in this field? Be sure that you're
prepared to keep information private, work flexible hours and travel.
"Get out and visit campuses," advises Sklarow. "It's not cheap, but you
cannot be an educational consultant without walking the footways, observing
classes, spying on dorms, eating in dining halls and talking with students,
professors and admission reps."
Sklarow advises potential consultants to get some training in counseling.
They should also learn how to run a small business.
"People thinking about entering this field need to be highly ethical,"
"It is important to be able to keep student information confidential. Also,
there are always pressures to 'help' students a little too much. For example,
some consultants apparently will ghost write a student's application essay.
Unethical behavior of this kind reflects badly on the profession."
Consultants work irregular hours. Students and parents might only be able
to meet in the evening, on weekends or during school holidays. As application
deadlines approach, the workload increases.
If you like helping people make choices and are prepared to lay the necessary
groundwork, being self-employed as a school admissions consultant could suit
Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA)
Represents full-time experienced independent educational advisors
National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC)
An organization of 8,000 professionals from around the world
Navigating College Admissions: A Series Overview
This site has a series of articles on the college admissions