Top 0 Secrets You Need to Know for College Admissions!


...and there you go! The top 0 secrets you need to know for college admissions! Now that I have you here...

I recently finished reading the revised edition of A is for Admission, written by the ubiquitous Michele Hernandez. This is not a review of that work. If you'd like to keep up with my reading (much of which is frivolous and some of which is relevant to my profession), feel free to follow me on Goodreads. I mention the book because the whole idea is prefaced on secret-sharing. Hernandez was an assistant director of admissions at Dartmouth for four years in the 90s, and this book was her attempt to unlock the secrets of Ivy-league admissions.

As I reflect on the commercial success of this book and of Hernandez herself (who is charging $16,000 for her 4-day "Application Boot Camp" this summer), I'm reminded that my work is not about sharing secrets. It's about understanding individual students and unique colleges, finding good matches between them, and creating a smooth path through the college application landscape, which hopefully will have some moments of self-discovery for students. Yes, of course, I know many things about the college application path that my clients don't know. That's a given. But that store of knowledge is not what I'm selling.

One my privileges as an IEC is to be an associate member of IECA, the premier professional organization for independent college consultants. In December 2015, IECA's CEO, Mark Sklarow presented a "State of the Profession" report. Here are some highlights from that report:

  • On average, IECA members completed 19 evaluative college campus visits last year.
  • 2/3 of IECs say that business has increased over the last two years.
  • The average comprehensive package fee for IECs with fewer than 3 years of experience was about $4,000.
  • The average IEC works 36 hours per week (the same as a school-based counselor).
  • About half of all clients are from professional or upper-middle class families, and about a quarter of clients are working class, lower-middle class, or impoverished families.

Other than the fact that I'm a numbers person, why am I throwing out these statistics? To point out that exorbitantly priced secrets for the privileged and wealthy are not what IECs, on the whole, are about. And to give families a frame of reference when looking for help with the college application process from an IEC. We are a growing community of professionals, as our services are needed more and more with average counselor-to-student ratios in public high schools flirting with 1:500.

One thing I've heard repeatedly over the past year as a member of IECA: a good IEC never stops learning. Any so-called "secret" learned one year could be obsolete the next year. Colleges are changing, tests are changing, applications are changing, and students are always unique. That's why I keep learning!