- Swati Chopra
Why families are choosing to work with Independent Educational Consultants (IECs)
If you have questions or would like more information on my counseling philosophy and how I can help your student, please feel free to contact me and we can set up an appointment in the coming weeks. 30 minute consultations are always free for new families and they’re a great way to see if we’re a good fit for each other. Hourly sessions are also available for all grades.
A question I'm often asked is how soon should a family start college counseling. The answer is simple - always come in as early as possible. I offer hourly sessions to my younger students who don't need a year-long package and would benefit from a couple of meetings to answer their most pressing questions. It’s become an ever-growing trend to hire an independent educational consultant (IEC)--not just for high achieving students, but for any student who wants more information on what their choices are when it comes to college research.
The most important advice I can give my prospective families is if they are interested in signing up for senior year, please do so early and not in the fall. We want to make the most of the summer months; you'd be surprised at how much my rising seniors accomplish by signing up early. The more time we have, the better the research and therefore, the more success we have at the end of the year.
Majors ✔️. College List ✔️. UC PIQs ✔️. Activity List ✔️. And the list goes on..
To be clear, we're not here to replace your school counselor. You should take advantage of your school counselor and make sure you meet them at least once a year to stay on track. School counselors have plenty of information, and they’re a wonderful ally when you have questions about what you should be doing while in high school. However, due to the sheer number of students they help (the ratio is usually 350:1 or more), they might not be able to give you one-on-one counseling when it comes time to start your college search. In fact, the NACAC (National Association of College Admission Counseling) states that school counselors are working extremely long hours but are known to spend less than 20% of their time helping students with post secondary education counseling.
And so the need for college counseling has become more and more apparent, and more families are reaching out to IECs to fill in the gaps. There are several reasons why families choose to hire counselors to help with their college search.
Peace of Mind - As the admissions process becomes more and more competitive, I’ve had parents tell me that just having access to me has given them immense peace of mind. More than 35% of my time involves reading and researching and being the eyes and ears for my current students. It’s an IEC’s job to keep on top of everything that has to do with college applications.
Accessibility - It's also our job to be there for our students. This is all that we do, 24/7. Well, maybe not 24/7, but pretty close! Like any small business owner knows, replying to emails and phone calls within the same business day is what it’s all about. Without that, we wouldn’t have students to care for.
Training - Reputable IECs spend a significant amount of time in training, whether it’s local or national conferences or visiting colleges to better understand the culture and environment of various campuses. In fact, the organizations that I’m a part of require a certain number of hours of training each year as well as a certain number of college visits.
Credentialed - Reputable IECs maintain memberships in organizations such as the Higher Education Consultants Association, (HECA) and WACAC (Western Association of College Admission Counselors)—each of which sets individual membership requirements demanding years of specialized experience, training, and a firm commitment to continuing education.
Network - Like many IECs, I work solo but am also a part of a group of local independent counselors who meet a couple of times a month to help each other out, whether it be creating college lists for our students or understanding local school district coursework. Our work requires us to constantly look for outside information and other perspectives for our students. On top of that, I work closely with a handful of high school counselors so that I know we’re on the same page while doing all that we can do to help our students.
IECs Provide an Extra Perspective - Think of IECs as an extra layer of support for your child. The main commodity your IEC offers you is information. We're able to give our students objective information when our students give us relevant information about themselves. This in turn helps us give our students appropriate recommendations, whether that be extracurricular activities, majors, or colleges.