Applying to college can be very intimidating, especially for parents and high school students doing it for the first time. According to the ASCA, however, an average school counselor in the US has 482 students on their caseload. In certain states like Arizona, that ratio can be as high as 924 students per counselor (!).
That's why many students turn to outside help in the form of independent counselors and consultants who can offer expert knowledge and help around the application process. Each year, independent counselors visit colleges, keep on top of new developments in college admissions, and stay on top of trends through research and attending industry events like conferences and conventions.
These practitioners are known by many names, including Independent Counselors, Independent Educational Consultants , and Independent Educational Counselors. It is estimated that there are tens of thousands of these professionals around the world, and the industry is rapidly growing.
There are several options as far as membership organizations for IECs to join. These groups help counselors by connecting them with a professional network of peers, offering training and growth opportunities, college tours, resources, and webinars. Many counselors maintain professional membership in many, if not all, of the organizations listed below.
HECA: Higher Education Consultants Association - Website
Annual Dues: $300
HECA is dedicated to advancing professional standards and supporting their members in the higher educational consulting field. Founded in 1997, HECA is led by a full-time Executive Director Ping Wei along with volunteer board chairs and an elected president on their leadership team. The current President of HECA in Spring 2018 is Carolee Gravina of College Bound Guidance, and the President-Elect is Brooke Daly of Advantage College Planning.
The organization supports over 1,000 members and provides webinars, regional affinity groups, college tours, listserv access, blog, an an annual conference. HECA members abide by four core values: sound advising, integrity, respect, and confidentiality. In order to apply to become a member of HECA, applicants must receive a certificate from an approved program (UCLA, UC Irvine, UC Riverside and UC Berkeley).
Members of HECA have characterized their experience as "collegial", "professionalism", "learning", and "great relationships".
Looking for more information on how to join HECA? Click here.
IECA: Independent Educational Consultants Association - Website
Annual Dues: $95-$300-$600 (Student-Associate-Professional)
IECA covers a broad range of topics around education consulting. In addition to college admissions, IECA members also focus on topics such as primary and secondary school admissions, therapeutic needs, international, and learning disability advising. There are over 1,800 IECA members across 30 countries.
The organization is led by CEO Mark Sklarow and a team of professional staff. In addition, IECA's board consists of elected leaders including a President and Vice Presidents for Ethics & Professional Practices, Education & Training, and Committees. As of writing, the Board President of IECA is Ann Rossbach of Ann Rossbach Consulting.
IECA hosts two annual conferences in the spring and fall. The organization provides ongoing college tours, in-person and online learning and training opportunities, an online exchange, and publishes a directory of IECs. IECA's core values include Leadership, Service, Integrity, Teamwork, Development, and Respect.
Members of IECA have characterized their experience as "growth-focused", "professionalism", "high standards", and "supportive".
Looking for more information on how to join IECA? Click here.
NACAC - National Association for College Admissions Counseling - Independent Educational Consultant Membership - Website
Annual Dues: $250
As the largest membership professional organization connecting colleges and high school counselors along with other practitioners, NACAC membership provides IECs with access to events, resources, and an expanded network of professionals and colleges.
In order to apply for an IEC membership, applicants must have had a) a previous NACAC membership, b) active membership in IECA or HECA, c) two years of admissions experience, or d) a certification from an approved counseling program in addition to other requirements.
To learn more about NACAC, be on the lookout for an upcoming in-depth profile and Channel CCR guide on membership organizations for all college counselors.
Looking for more information on how to join NACAC as an IEC? Click here.