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Your Higher Calling

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    Your Higher Calling Your Higher Calling Document Transcript

    • Entrepreneur Magazine’s College Planning Consultant Chapter 1 Your Higher Calling Busy lifestyles have spawned them. professionals—offer a wide array of valuable More than 4,100 institutions of higher services to students and their parents. For learning have made them possible. instance, they help steer students during their Nearly 16 million students have cre- high school days to the academic, extracur- ated a demand for them. And now you ricular and athletic pursuits that will increase can take advantage of today’s ever- their chances of being admitted to the col- growing need for college admis- lege(s) of their choice. They help them wade sions/financial aid consulting services through the mounds of paperwork neces- by throwing your hat—or shall we say sary to apply for both admission and finan- mortarboard?—into this interesting cial aid, and they make sure the forms are and rewarding arena. submitted on time. They also specialize in Today’s college planning con- helping at-risk students, learning-disabled sultants—used interchangeably students and other nontraditional students in this book with educational achieve their highest po- consultants or college admis- tential. In extreme cas- sions/financial aid consulting es, they may even help save lives, which may sound dramatic until you consider that placing at-risk young peo- ple firmly on the path to college success truly can help them avoid making bad lifestyle choices that could negatively impact the rest of their lives. Head Of The Class According to the Inde- pendent Educational Con- sultants Association (IECA), some of the best and most ca- pable educational consultants come from the ranks of the country’s experienced academic advisors and counselors, who gain hands-on experience at both public and private universities, colleges, 1.1
    • Chapter 1 Your Higher Calling and secondary and elementary schools. consultant, because frankly, the college ad- (Or at any rate, they have the easiest time missions field in general and the financial making the transition to educational con- aid consulting industry in particular both sulting, given their background, says Mark have a rather unsavory reputation. The pop- Sklarow, executive director of the IECA. ular press frequently warns the public about See “Background Check” below for more shady consultants who gleefully scam un- information.) In addition, they often have suspecting families of limited means who titles like certified educational planner are desperate to find the best college and/or (CEP) or licensed educational psycholo- aid package. They report that consultants gist, as well as an alphabet soup of oth- charge ridiculous fees, up to and including er prestigious academic letters after their an exorbitant percentage of the financial names, including Ph.D., MBA, M.A., Ed.D. aid package. They’ve also written about (Doctor of Education), and Ed.M. (Master how some unscrupulous consultants “guar- of Education). On the financial aid side, antee” that they can get a child a full ride some consultants are even CPAs or cre- at a competitive university, then slink away, dentialed financial planners. retainer fee in hand, leaving the student and Both this experience and educational back- his parents high and dry. ground is important for someone who wish- Then there are the dabblers, or the peo- es to hang out a shingle as an educational ple whom Santa Fe, New Mexico, educa- Background Check There’s a prevailing notion that private school, high school and college counselors make the best educational consultants because they have spent so much time with kids, have read studentsʼ files, are familiar with standardized tests and so on. But according to Mark Sklarow, executive director of the Inde- pendent Educational Consultants Association (IECA), a counseling background isnʼt mandatory to be successful in this field. “In my experience, counselors have the easiest time making the transition [from education to educational consulting],” he says. “They definitely get the one-on-one stuff. But although they understand the administrative part of coun- seling, they usually lack small-business skills. Also, they usually only know their own school or college and the surrounding area but usually not much beyond that. In addition, they usually donʼt see the learning-disabled kids or the ones who donʼt know what they want out of life. So they have a steep learning curve just like someone who doesnʼt come from academic counseling.” Conversely, Sklarow says that some of the other people who come to IECA, including everyone from lawyers to real estate agents, understand the small- business picture but lack the hands-on academic piece of the consulting pie. So whatʼs an aspiring educational consultant to do? To begin with, look for a mentor who will allow you to work with him or her to learn the ropes. Then join an organization like IECA, the Higher Education Consultants Association or the National Association for College Admission Counseling. Youʼll find more infor- mation about these groups in Chapter 7. 1.2
    • Entrepreneur Magazine’s College Planning Consultant a successful educational consultancy. “The college admission process may seem Fun Fact intuitive, but it’s based on a cumulative The SAT was intro- process of experience that includes visiting duced in 1926 to measure colleges; going to conferences, seminars and the academic achieve- workshops; and knowing enough about var- ments of college-bound ious colleges to help students pick the right students. Although the name has one,” Sklarow says. “The person who says, undergone numerous changes ‘I got my daughter into Bryn Mawr, and it over the years (the acronym once was so much fun that I can’t wait to help stood for Scholastic Achievement others get into college, too,’ won’t have Test), the College Board says the enough knowledge to connect the right kid initials don’t stand for anything to the right college. You have to go out and anymore. However, the Princeton Review irreverently says SAT visit 40 or 60 colleges, so when you meet a stands for “Stupid, Annoying Test.” kid, you have an aha moment and recognize that he seems like a Penn State kid, for ex- ample, rather than a Temple kid.” tional consultant Whitney Laughlin refers Getting An Education to as the “Mommy Corps.” These are the as- Don’t get us wrong. Our point here isn’t piring consultants who come by their to discourage you from pursuing a career knowledge of the college application in educational consulting if you don’t have process from having shepherded an off- decades of academic counseling experience. spring or two through the experience, and It is possible to build a career in this field may even have succeeded in getting said if you have the drive and determination, a children admitted to a prominent universi- willingness to invest time in professional ty. They figure that having navigated the development, and a commitment to excel- choppy waters of college admission suc- lence. But there’s no question that people cessfully, they have the right stuff to turn with previous admissions experience have their knowledge into a thriving career. In an edge, and that it will take a lot of work some cases, they have degrees themselves, to develop the knowledge and contacts although more often than not, those de- you’ll need to do the job right if you don’t grees are in fields other than education or have that experience. And as Sklarow points counseling. out, you’ll also have to travel extensively to But what the dabblers usually don’t have visit college campuses and get to know is insider knowledge of a wide variety of col- what they offer, and it usually will be at lege campuses the way professional coun- your own expense. Universities generally selors do. They don’t know the right people pay expenses only for experienced con- at the university level to contact for insight sultants, since they’re the ones who are and information. They also don’t have ex- most likely to make successful placements perience dealing with complex personalities at their institutions. and figuring out how to match kids to the Whether you’re a relative neophyte or institution where they’ll thrive and grow. an experienced counselor, this book will In short, they’re trying to build a business provide you with the tools and insight you’ll without paying their dues—and that can be need to launch a college admissions and fi- a real handicap when it comes to running nancial aid consulting business. In the 1.3
    • Chapter 1 Your Higher Calling IECA. But using that figure as a benchmark, that works out to about one consultant per Stat Fact 8,000 students (based on a student popula- In 2005, there were tion of nearly 16 million). What’s more, IECA 27,468 public high says that some states—including Idaho and schools in the United Oklahoma—do not yet have even a single States. The top three schools in educational consultant among their ranks. 2005, according to Newsweek’s Even the federal government doesn’t “100 Best High Schools in Ameri- track educational consultants as a special- ca” list, were Jefferson County, ized group. The closest thing to a classifi- Irondale, Alabama; the Interna- tional Academy, Bloomfield Hills, cation for this group of professionals can Michigan; and Stanton College be found in the Occupational Outlook Prep, Jacksonville, Florida. Handbook, 2006-2007 Edition (U.S. De- partment of Labor). The handbook has a “Counselor” category with a subcategory that includes educational, vocational and chapters ahead, we’ll cover all the business school counselors who work primarily in basics, from establishing your company as elementary schools, secondary schools, col- a legal entity to outfitting a home office, leges and universities. It’s reasonable to as- handling the finances, promoting your serv- sume that the 248,000 individuals in that ices and so on. We’ll assume you already category are primarily employed by various have the basic knowledge you need to organizations and schools. The rather vague help young students realize their dream “Counselors, all other” category, which of attending the university of their choice. numbers 25,000 people, is more likely to If you do need assistance with how to coun- be where the independent consultants re- sel eager young students, make college side—but no one really knows for sure! placements, advise about financial aid pack- What is known is that the Department of ages, or otherwise run the educational con- Labor says that overall employment for sulting side of the business, you’ll find it counselors in general is expected to grow helpful to join an organization like IECA. faster than average through 2014. So the You can also check out the professional de- opportunities for an enterprising consultant velopment opportunities discussed at length like yourself to forge a meaningful career in Chapter 7. doing something you love appear very bright indeed. Class Picture In the meantime, before we delve into History 101 the nuts and bolts of running your own Just as statistics on who’s who in edu- homebased college planning business, a lit- cational consulting are as scarce as under- tle background on this industry is helpful. grads in the library during spring break, so The IECA estimates that in the United is historical data about the profession. As States, there are only about 2,000 educa- might be expected, we know far more tional consultants, 500 of whom belong to about the genesis of education in America its organization. This is strictly a guess, be- than we know about the practice of ad- cause not everyone who provides educa- missions consulting. The first institution of tional consulting services chooses to join a higher learning in the United States actual- professional membership association like ly predates the Union by nearly a century 1.4
    • Entrepreneur Magazine’s College Planning Consultant and a half. Harvard College, which is the old- how to get into the most elite schools—or est school of Harvard University, was found- who could help—was exchanged. ed in 1636, a mere 16 years after the Pilgrims It wasn’t long before those who offered landed at Plymouth Rock, and opened its boarding school admissions advice realized doors to just nine students. Seven years lat- that offering college admissions counseling er, the first scholarship in history was award- could be far more lucrative. After all, there ed at Harvard thanks to the largess of a pri- were about 3,000 students in private board- vate donor, Lady Anne Radcliffe Mowlson. ing schools at the time vs. 1 million college Fast-forward to the 20th century. It’s be- students. So while the shift from consulting lieved that educational consultants have for boarding schools to colleges devel- been around in one form or another for oped slowly, Sklarow’s theory is that the decades, but it wasn’t until the 1950s, with field really took off when educational con- the advent of SAT test-preparation classes, sultants stopped apologizing about their that the career truly began to gain mo- livelihood and started focusing on educat- mentum, mostly because parents started re- ing parents and students on how they could alizing that there was a way they could give help them get into the college best suited their kids an edge. One of the earliest con- to their talents and academic abilities. sulting programs—if not the earliest—was Sklarow says, “We’d see people stand up established in 1968 by Howard Greene, at conferences and meetings and say, ‘I’m M.A., M.Ed., who still consults with schools an educational consultant—I know, I’m sor- and colleges today. Sklarow of the IECA ry about that.’ But the fact is, ‘our’ kids are says that the nouveau riche fueled that ear- more likely to graduate and to go to private ly demand for educational consultants be- universities. As a result there’s been a fun- cause they were interested in sending their damental shift in attitude about the pro- offspring to boarding school but didn’t fession, and in particular, our impact has know where to turn for insider information. been dramatic at small liberal arts colleges. As a result, members-only golf clubs and An awful lot of kids [who go there] have other places where the privileged gathered worked with IECA members.” became the arenas where information about Today, those kids’ parents are no longer just the wealthy and privileged. Over- whelmingly, they’re suburban profession- als who want to make sure they find the Fun Fact best possible educational environment and The first public high financial assistance for their budding schol- school in the United ars. And Sklarow predicts that there’s yet States (now called Eng- lish High School) was another market starting to percolate right founded in Boston in the winter now. “The next big trend will develop of 1821 and was open to any within the next 10 years or less among the boy aged 12 or older who could middle class in both urban and suburban pass the entrance exam. This areas,” he says. “They will have more of a was a revolutionary idea for its need to know about financial aid than ever, time, because advanced learning which means there will be a greater need previously had been open only for consultants to help them.” to the wealthy. Steven Antonoff, an educational con- sultant in Denver, says another trend today is consultants helping clients choose 1.5
    • Chapter 1 Your Higher Calling room duty, so college counseling usually is a really low priority.” Smart Tip ● Parents who know other people who use When visiting college educational consultants and feel their kid(s) campuses, be sure to will be at a disadvantage if they don’t use bring along a journal in a consultant which you can note your impres- ● People who are overwhelmed by or im- sions about the campus as well patient with the application process (so much as details about the academic and paperwork, so little time!). This is especial- social environment, athletics, ly true when it comes to financial aid, which housing and other characteristics. of course must be reapplied for every year. Once you’ve visited several col- ● Parents who are anxiety-ridden about leges, they all start to look alike, so having notes on each one will getting their kids into the “best” schools. be very helpful later. “It used to be simple: If a kid’s SAT scores were good, she would go to Penn,” says Sklarow. “If the SAT scores were lower, that same kid would go to Temple. Now, schools. “There is a great demand for con- almost the entire senior year is given over sultants who know the process to get Jun- to college anxiety.” ior through the college application experi- ● People who perceive educational con- ence, but it’s important to be knowledgeable sultants as insiders (which of course you will about college environments and how Junior be once you establish the right contacts) and will fit in,” he says. “Good consultants are as a result are in the best position to help both process- and knowledge-oriented.” them make the wisest collegial decisions So how can you serve these diverse au- Who Needs You? diences well? To begin with, you’ll need to You’ll find most of your clientele are make the college circuit in person to glean likely to come from the following demo- as much insight as possible about local uni- graphics: versities, Ivy League schools, Big 10 and oth- ● Busy parents who have neither the time er nationally known schools, or all of these, nor the energy to do all the legwork nec- depending on your personal interests and essary to find the right college for their kids your clients’ choices. Because there are more ● Parents who value time more than mon- than 4,000 colleges and universities in the ey and would rather spend what free time United States and only one you, you may they have on personal and/or family pur- wish to follow the lead of educational con- suits and pay someone to pore over college sultants who choose to specialize in partic- catalogs or applications for them ular fields or offer specialized services. For ● Parents who want/need their kids to have instance, there are counselors who focus on more personal attention than is usually avail- Ivy League placements, others who counsel able from high school counselors. “School learning disabled (LD) or at-risk kids, and counselors are so overworked,” Sklarow says. still others who place athletes or performing “On average, today’s counselors have an av- arts students. Also, you’ll need to get some erage of 600 kids to counsel, or up to 1,000 education yourself, both as a business own- or more in schools in large cities like Los An- er and as a student of educational consult- geles. They’re often dealing with drugs and ing. We’ll help you with both in subsequent alcohol, crisis intervention, and even lunch- chapters of this book. 1.6
    • Entrepreneur Magazine’s College Planning Consultant On The Money how effective you are in the marketing and You’re no doubt wondering whether the promotion of your business.” financial rewards of being an educational “Since you won’t make money right consultant are worth the significant efforts away, you should keep your day job,” adds necessary to establish your business, con- Steven Antonoff. “The sole exception is if sidering all the traveling, fact-finding, stu- you happen to be someone who doesn’t dent meetings, office administration, and need an immediate income or you’re not other tasks you’ll be doing. The short an- income-dependent because there’s a sec- swer is: Yes, eventually. Like most busi- ond breadwinner in your family.” ness startups, there’s a learning curve and Here’s the scoop from IECA on how a corresponding earnings lag. That’s why much you can earn once you get that aca- the entrepreneurs we spoke to for this demic ball rolling: book say that if you’re contemplating es- The average rate charged by educational tablishing a college admissions and financial consultants is $140 an hour, with a range aid consulting business, you might want of about $75 to $300. Sklarow says about a to make it a sideline rather than full-time third of consultants charge by the hour. The pursuit in the beginning. average package cost for a college place- “We typically tell new consultants that they ment (typically starting in 10th or 11th grade are likely to have a net loss in the first year through college enrollment) is $3,200, with because of the learning, traveling, campus a range of $750 to $7,500. There are ex- tours and office equipment they’ll need,” ceptions to this rule, of course—we’ve Sklarow says. “They can expect to break heard of one consultant who charges (and even or earn up to $15,000 in the second gets) $30,000—but the only typical excep- year, then be making a real salary in the tion to this rule nationally is in New Eng- third. The caution is: It all depends upon land, where the average is just under $4,000. America’s Top Colleges ● Harvard University ● Johns Hopkins University ● Princeton University ● Brown University ● Yale University ● University of Chicago ● University of Pennsylvania ● Rice University ● Duke University ● University of Notre Dame ● Stanford University ● Vanderbilt University ● California Institute of Technology ● Emory University ● Massachusetts Institute of Technology ● University of California-Berkeley ● Columbia University ● Carnegie Mellon University ● Dartmouth College ● Georgetown University ● Washington University in St. Louis ● University of Virginia ● Northwestern University ● University of California-Los Angeles ● Cornell University ● University of Michigan-Ann Arbor Source: U.S. News & World Report, “America’s Best Colleges 2006” 1.7
    • Chapter 1 Your Higher Calling So let’s do some math. If you have 10 paying customers who choose your $3,200 package, your gross annual income would Beware! be $32,000. Or if you counseled 25 kids a Never counsel year—which is entirely feasible by your for free, even when third year—you would earn $80,000 a year. the students are dis- Conversely, if you counsel 10 hours a advantaged, says Santa Fe, New Mexico, consultant Whitney week at $150 an hour, your annual income Laughlin. Requiring students to for a 45-week year would be $67,500 (the pay something invests them in other seven weeks would be set aside for the counseling process and vacation and travel to campuses). So as makes them take it more seri- you can tell, there is some serious money ously. If the person is very poor, to be made once your business is up and Laughlin recommends bartering. running. The trick is to make it through For instance, she has had her those lean and hungry early years. house cleaned and has accepted artwork and jewelry as payment. Voices Of Experience In the chapters that follow, you’ll learn everything you need to know to launch your new college admissions and finan- have agreed to serve as a resource for you cial aid consulting business. But perhaps if you ever have general questions per- what may prove in the long run to be taining to your new career. These entre- even more valuable to you is the input preneurs include: and views of the experienced educational ● Steven R. Antonoff, Ph.D., CEP, Antonoff consultants who agreed to be interviewed Associates, Denver: This published author for this book. You’ll find their insight and has been an educational consultant since comments interspersed throughout the 1981 and assists approximately 100 stu- book. In addition, these entrepreneurs dents annually with their college decisions. (One of his books, College Match: A Blue- print for Choosing the Best School for You [Octameron Associates], will be of partic- Smart Tip ular interest to aspiring educational con- A useful reference sultants like you, since it focuses on how book you should have to make good decisions when matching on your desk is The Best students to universities.) Previously he 361 Colleges: The Smart Student’s served as Dean of Students, then as Dean Guide to Colleges (Princeton Re- of Admission and Financial Aid, at the Uni- view). It’s a compilation of com- ments from 110,000 college stu- versity of Denver, where he also earned dents on everything from college his Ph.D. in psychology and human com- classes to social activities, and in- munications studies. He also holds an M.A. cludes information about admis- degree in education from the University sions and financial aid. It’s updat- of Denver and a B.S. in psychology from ed annually so the 411 is always the University of Colorado. In addition to fresh. consulting, Antonoff serves as the IECA’s Dean of Education and Training Programs, teaches online college consulting courses 1.8
    • Entrepreneur Magazine’s College Planning Consultant through the UCLA Extension certificate pro- Pembroke Hill School, Kansas City, and as gram, and does a lot of public speaking. a result has long-standing associations with ● Joan Bress, LCSW, CEP, College Resource numerous college admissions personnel. Associates, Worcester, Massachusetts: Bress He has a bachelor’s degree in business ad- has more than 20 years’ experience as an ministration and economics from the Uni- educator and LCSW (licensed clinical so- versity of Redlands in California and a mas- cial worker), with a specialty in adoles- ter’s degree in history from the University cent development and family therapy. of Missouri-Kansas City. Since establishing her consulting practice ● Charlotte Klaar, CEP, College Consult- in 1999, she has worked with students ing Services, Brunswick, Maryland: A self- with many interests, although performing employed educational consultant since arts is an area of particular interest to her. 1995, Klaar holds a B.A. degree from the She is an oft-published writer of articles University of the State of New York and a on college issues for both local and na- master’s in interdisciplinary science stud- tional publications, and she often presents ies from Johns Hopkins University. She is currently in a Ph.D. program in general psychology with an emphasis on family psychology at William Paterson College in Fun Fact Wayne, New Jersey, and also has a teach- The SAT test-prepara- ing certificate on the graduate level from tion business is a $310 the same institution. In addition to running million-a-year industry, two separate educational consulting prac- according to Eduventures, tices, one in Maryland and one in Massa- an education market research chusetts, she shares her knowledge of the firm. And that number could rise since the SAT underwent exten- consulting profession by teaching classes in sive revisions in 2005. The nail- the UCLA Extension certificate program in biting college entrance exam is college counseling. now 45 minutes longer than be- ● Whitney Laughlin, Ed.D., Whitney fore and has a maximum possible Laughlin Ed.D. Educational Consultant, score of 2400, up from 1600. Victoria, British Columbia, and Santa Fe, New Mexico: Laughlin began her educational career in 1971 as an ESL and Spanish teacher in a Mayan village in Yucatan, Mexico. Since college prep seminars and workshops for then, she has had an eclectic career in edu- students, parents and teachers. She holds cation, ranging from director of admissions an MSW (Master of Social Work) degree and financial aid to college counselor. She from Simmons College School of Social also is the director and founder of College Work in Boston, an M.A. in Romance lan- Horizons Program, a summer pre-graduate- guages from Boston University, and a B.A. school program for Native American col- degree in Spanish literature from the Uni- lege students. She earned an Ed.D. degree versity of Pennsylvania. in educational administration and nonprof- ● James C. Heryer, M.A., CEP, College Guid- it management from the University of Cal- ance and Placement, Kansas City, Missouri: ifornia at Berkeley, an Ed.M. degree in ad- This certified educational planner has been ministration, planning and social policy from a college consultant since 1989. Formerly Harvard Graduate School of Education, and he was director of college placement at the an M.A. in Spanish and women’s studies 1.9
    • Chapter 1 Your Higher Calling from Goddard College in Plainfield, Ver- Boarding Schools, and a member of the mont. Over the course of her 25 years in governing board of the IECA. education, she has visited about 500 col- ● Sarah Soule, Sarah Soule & Associates, lege campuses. She founded her consult- Burlington, Vermont: Soule has more than ing business in 1996. 20 years’ experience working with college ● W. Judge Mason, M.A., Judge Mason Ed- applicants, early in her career as the coor- ucational Consultant, Sedona, Arizona: A dinator of group travels for the Northern Ver- self-employed educational consultant since mont Consortium of Colleges (for which she 2001, Mason holds a bachelor’s degree in also served as president) and now as direc- philosophy from Yale and master’s degrees tor of school, college and community rela- in East Asian studies from Harvard and in tions at Vermont Commons School in South English from Wayne State University in De- Burlington, Vermont. She was named Ad- troit. He has decades of educational expe- missions Counselor of the Year in 1997 by rience, ranging from teaching at Interna- the New England Association of College Ad- tional Christian University in Japan to missions Counselors and founded her part- serving as dean of students, academic dean time consulting business in 2003. She is a and college counselor at various educational graduate of Johnson State College in John- institutions. He is a founding member of the son, Vermont, with a B.A. in English, and Southwest Boarding Schools and Western holds a certification in elementary education. 1.10