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When Hiring an IEC is Overkill - grade your high school guidance office

Updated: Feb 14

pen and paper with checkboxes

Hiring an Independent Education Consultant is not always necessary. Certainly, if a student's high school invests resources into a college planning office, our services may be overkill and add extra work for a student. How can you tell in advance?

  • Ask for and review your high school's profile report - Colleges evaluate high schools as well as students. Not all schools author and submit a separate profile report, but they should. Think of the profile report as a slick marketing piece that advocates the strength of the school's curriculum and results. If your student's high school does not create a profile report, ask the guidance counselor how they might complete your student's common application school report.

  • Do selective colleges visit your students' high schools? - Do colleges deem your student's high school worth the time or money to send someone? Are the schools visiting mostly less selective regional schools, or do selective schools come to call?

  • Understand your guidance office's processes before Junior year - ask questions.

    • Curriculum - Is there a college planning curriculum? What content is covered each month, and when does the curriculum begin? Does the guidance office recommend a full academic schedule through the Senior year?

    • Technology - What is the school's learning platform for college planning – Naviance, Cialfo, MaiaLearning, Scoir? Is data within the platform actively updated and managed, or is it simply a placeholder for requesting transcripts and recommendation letters?

    • Admission Tests - Does the school offer an ACT and an SAT school day in the spring of Junior year? What type of admission test practice is coordinated within the school? Are the student's admission test scores (ACT/SAT/AP) higher than the national average?

    • Writing Resource Center - What is the high school process to help students organize application writing assignments by topic and school? Do they receive guidance on developing content? Who is responsible for helping the students with content feedback? Are there enough resources to support multiple rounds of feedback for multiple essays?

    • Application Data Entry - Does the school host an application Bootcamp or 1:1 meetings during the summer leading up to Senior year to knock out the data entry portions of the application early on?

    • Application List - Does the school help a student balance their list for admission probability and cost of attendance? Do they provide advice on early decision applications?

    • Deadlines - Does the school monitor obvious and more subtle deadlines for students? Some examples of more subtle deadlines include applications submitted early for

      • Housing priority

      • Honors College

      • Interview Access

      • Deadline by the program of study

      • Rolling early action

      • Rolling early decision

      • Visual and Performing Arts portfolio or audition deadlines

    • Academic Scholarships - Who is responsible for High school nominations for institutional scholarships?

    • Interviews - Does the school monitor if the student has registered for optional interviews by the required deadline?

    • Application Review - Does the school review each application before submission to confirm the program of study, application type, and all other data entry points are fully utilized and correct?

    • Financial Aid Paperwork - Does the school offer discussion on financial parameters, expectations of each school's net cost of attendance after grants and merit scholarships, and the role of the FAFSA and CSS Profile?

    • Post Application Follow-Up - Is the counselor meeting with students after applications to ensure all application accounts are activated and the material checklist is completed?

If your high school is actively managing the tasks above, you are fine, and hiring an outside resource might create more angst for the student and is an unnecessary investment. If you find that your high school does not have the resources, we can help. Our clients say we are worth every penny!

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