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Posted November 17, 2006 by

In Support of Private College Consultants

What is an independent educational consultant?
“Independent educational consultants are skilled professionals who provide counseling to help student and family choose a college, university or other program that is a good personal match: one that will foster this particular student’s academic and social growth. Educational consultants can provide a student and family with individual attention, first hand knowledge of hundreds of educational opportunities, and the time to explore all of the options. An independent counselor works one-on-one with students and parents to develop a thorough, carefully researched and appropriate school and/or college search, and guide the student through every step of the process.”
Many argue that independent college consulting is a luxury many cannot afford. Within the four professional organizations I currently belong, I have yet to meet a private counselor who doesn’t work on a sliding scale or in fact for free if it necessitates. After being in schools for twenty-five years, it’s obvious that the potpourri of jobs any counselor has doesn’t give students the focus and assistance they need in both understanding and filling out college applications. School counselors are often excellent and well qualified. It’s just that they are part of a system that has an average ration of 500 students to every counselor.
A recent Boston Globe article discusses the possibility of a potential check box where students would have to indicate to universities if they were receiving outside help to complete their college applications. I wholeheartedly disagree with this concept. Privacy issues are of ultimate concern everywhere in everything. What families and students choose to do is personal. Do universities tell the public what they are doing behind closed doors? I think not. Not to imply that anything is being done they wouldn’t publicize. However, it is the right of every admission officer to keep their information private. There is nothing unethical about keeping this information private. Qualified private counselors assist students and do not do work for them. I know that myself, along with many colleagues will answer questions for students with no charge.
“The Independent Educational Consultants Association has seen its membership triple since 1996, and expects continued growth in the coming years. There are now approximately 4,000 independent counselors nationwide. . . . ‘Of the 260,000 [high school] graduates last year who went to private colleges, 58,000 worked with consultants, representing 22 percent of the freshman class in these schools.”
The business of education is widely recognized and accepted. Qualified independent college consultants must be a respected option as are life coaches, psychologists and physical trainers to mention a few. After all, college consultants all have the same goals in mind – that of placing students in the best educational environment to meet their needs and have them gain knowledge and achieve happiness and success.


Posted November 15, 2006 by

Why Distance Counseling Works

Isn’t it true that when admission officers evaluate student applications they really don’t know the student? Other than the interview that some colleges offer, acceptance decisions are based on a written document, the application. For students to portray themselves in the best light, their GPA’s, test scores, essays and recommendations must paint the best possible picture. In addition to local students, I am currently working with students and families in 16 states and 5 countries internationally. This number is increasing nearly daily. I counsel online, on the phone and via fax. If I can get a clear picture of a student based on all their data without the face to face meetings, then it is likely that admissions officers will also. The fact is that distance counseling is a test for the real thing.
I do see many students face to face when possible and always enjoy knowing them personally. However, the demand for guidance is so widespread that to accommodate more students, distance counseling is necessary. The forerunner, online learning, indicates how fast online education is growing and how successful it is. The Sloan Consortium, a group of colleges pursuing online programs, estimates that 850,000 more students took online courses in the fall of 2005 than the year before, an increase of nearly 40 percent. Students, too, are extremely comfortable with the distance format. Between their personal web pages, text and emails, online communication is a comfort zone .Many young people are more comfortable communicating online.
Many university applications are going paperless within the next few years. Numerous professors post assignments, readings and syllabus online. High schools are using programs where students receive online report cards. Electronic communication is the M generation’s way. Online college applications, passwords, pin numbers, secret questions to login are all very standard. Many face to face counseling meetings are conducted in front of a computer.
It is likely that college applications will become even more unique in the coming years. I easily guide all my distance students to present applications that are unique and perhaps explore creative possibilities in photo uploads, displaying computer graphic skills, musical backgrounds and links to personal pages. All this reveals much about the student.
So many of my high school and transfer students have such busy schedules, that they prefer connecting with me online rather than face to face. Between homework, jobs, athletic activities and other extracurriculars, they like communicating at the end of the day with their questions and input online.
By the time my students submit their applications, I have a strong feeling for who they are having worked with them to extract their strengths. In saying all this and if you have read this far, I have a note for parents. I hear things like, “I want my child to know their counselor”. Of course, there is nothing wrong with that. I urge you to keep in mind, to realize and accept that this is a new high tech generation that is more than comfortable with distance counseling.
Jeannie Borin, M.Ed.
IECA Professional Member
NACAC Professional Member