Did you know that 26 percent of “high achieving” seniors are using independent educational or college consultants to support their college search? It’s true – according to a study by Lipman Hearne, conducted in cooperation with the National Research Center for College and University Admissions (NRCCUA). High achieving students in this study of 1,264 achieved scores of 1150 or higher on the SAT (1600 point scale) and/or an ACT composite of 25 or higher.

With in-school counseling reaching the breaking point, middle class parents and students are increasingly reaching out for additional support and information on colleges and the admission process.

More reasons behind this trend may be because independent educational consultants (IEC’s) are:

1. Available. Consultants aren’t tied to a school, a school district, or a school calendar. They work with students in the immediate neighborhood or across the world thanks to readily available technology. Not surprisingly, consultants do much of their most important work over the summer months getting seniors ready for the admissions process, and many work long weekend and evening hours – after team practice or between dinner and homework.

2. Responsive. It’s part of the business model. Consultants have to respond promptly to emails, phone calls and other forms of inquiry or they’re quickly out of business. Deadlines are everything in the world of college and no one is more aware of time constraints and the need for immediacy than independent educational consultants.

3. Knowledgeable. Consultants spend significant time visiting college campuses and attending professional workshops, conferences, and college fairs. It’s no secret that colleges have different personalities and management practices. But it’s virtually impossible to get a feel for these personalities or keep up with changes in programs and facilities without visiting on a regular basis. Yes, it’s expensive and time-consuming, but the best consultants travel as much as 20 percent of the workweek to be the eyes and ears of the families they serve.

4. Credentialed. Reputable IEC’s maintain memberships in organizations such as the IECA, the Higher Education Consultants Association (HECA), the National Association of College Admissions Counselors (NACAC) and local NACAC affiliates – each of which sets individual membership requirements demanding years of specialized experience, education and training, and a firm commitment to continuing education.

5. Ethical. As members of the above-mentioned organizations, consultants subscribe to specific Principles of Good Practice governing the actions of consultants in their relationships with students and families, schools and colleges, and with colleagues.

6. Connected. IEC’s seek out businesses and colleagues who provide additional services needed by college-bound high schools students and their families. They often know the best tutors in the hardest subjects and can recommend test prep companies with solid track records of success.

7. Committed. The best consultants are committed to the idea of college access for all – regardless of background, race, or income. And most provide pro bono services to low-income families or they serve in volunteer programs designed to raise awareness of college and financial aid opportunities. Educational consultants support their communities and provide behind-the-scenes services most of which you’ll never read about in the popular press.

With thanks to: Nancy Griesemer