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    How Can I Become a College Counselor?

    Posted October 4, 2023, 10:28 am by Margaret Rothe
    College Application Counseling

    They grow up so fast! If you're thinking about what your student needs next, you might be wondering if it's time to hire a college consultant. Maybe it's time to become one?

    Can Parents Become College Counselors?

    As a parent, you've witnessed firsthand the joys and challenges of guiding your child through college. Or you are just beginning to understand the complex process resembles an intricate maze rather than a paved path. Or you might be knee-deep in the college selection process and realize the time and dedication that the process demands closely resembles a part-time job. My journey as an IEC spans over 25 years. Over those decades, I’ve met hundreds of mothers and fathers like you who felt a calling to share their wisdom (or survival notes) after successfully shepherding their children through their college applications.

    A Parent's Guide to a Career in Independent Educational Consulting (IEC)

    Becoming an IEC is a growing profession. Most IECs are self-employed, offering many the lifestyle flexibility they desire. This article is an introductory compass for parents contemplating a pivot into college counseling. Whether you're a newcomer or a seasoned educator, this article is your blueprint for success in the IEC landscape. The educational consulting universe may seem daunting, but with the proper guidance, you can navigate it with assurance. My primary goal is to equip you with the skills and insights you need to excel. This will enable you to thrive in this dynamic sector. So, let's dive into the captivating world of IEC, all from a parent's unique viewpoint.

    Laying the Foundation for Your IEC Business

    First impressions matter. As you set out on this career path, it's crucial to establish your educational consulting enterprise correctly from the get-go. This isn't a mere hobby; it's your livelihood. Your initial choices will set the stage for your consultancy's future. Selecting the appropriate business entity is one of your first significant decisions. Whether it's an LLC, S-Corp, or another structure, each option has its implications. These choices may not be the most exciting part of your journey, but they are undeniably crucial. We, your future colleagues, aim to guide you through these decisions to ensure you make informed choices. This article and others hosted on the CounselMore IEC blog will provide a touchstone throughout your business journey.

    Financial Planning for Your IEC Practice

    Money talks. Guesswork won't cut it when it comes to your business finances. Professionals charge for their services and have systems to do that. Amateurs don’t. The first step to professionalizing your business is set up how to get paid for your services. A well-defined plan for revenue generation is essential for your consultancy's efficiency and for building trust with your clients. In today's digital landscape, smooth payment solutions are crucial. Most counselors, in my experience, use one of three systems: 

    • Stripe
    • Quickbooks
    • PayPal

    Before you do any of that, though, you need a business bank account. 

    Before you sell anything, you’ll have to figure out your product and how much you charge for your services. Through the many CounselMore resources, each step will be elaborated to ensure you're well-equipped to manage the financial aspects of your consultancy. For instance, this clever ROI calculator will show you your service price, how many clients you’ll need to meet your goals, and which tools provide the best ROI.

    Building a Robust IEC Network: Utilizing Free and Paid Resources

    Your network is your net worth. In the IEC landscape, the value of a robust professional network cannot be overstated. It's not merely about accumulating contacts but fostering meaningful relationships that can propel your career forward. Free resources abound, offering mentorship programs, study sessions, and valuable platforms like the CounselMore IEC community events. These can be transformative stepping stones in your journey. Our guidance will focus on how to maximize these resources for your benefit. The goal is to help you build a network that supports and enriches your professional life.

    Investing in Professional Development as an IEC

    Beyond free resources, paid avenues offer depth. Associations like HECA, the Higher Educational Consulting Association, and paid mentorship programs, like the CounselMore Business Development events can be game-changers, providing insights that set you apart in the crowded IEC field. Industry leaders offer unique perspectives that can elevate your practice to new heights. We'll navigate you through these paid resources, ensuring you make informed decisions that align with your career goals. The aim is to help you invest wisely in your professional development, maximizing the return on your investment.

    Identifying Your Specialty in Educational Consulting

    The IEC field is a mosaic of highly specific opportunities. As a parent, your unique perspective can be your guiding star in identifying a specialized area within the broader IEC landscape. Your firsthand experience with your children's educational journey can offer invaluable insights into what other parents might seek. Your former career and hobbies will also provide skills that will set you apart from other counselors. Think about the areas of life you find most interesting or that you have a unique personal experience to pull from. Here are some niches you might consider, each with its unique needs and rewards:

    Aptitude Testing

    Very few IECs I know practice aptitude testing. Thus, this industry is a budding market with much room for new IECs to master. The IECs I know specializing in aptitude testing usually use advanced psychometric tools. They’re the parents who love taking personality assessments and figuring out what makes people tick. For example, my colleague Marc Gray essentially weaves aptitude testing into every part of his educational practice. Marc uses the Highlands Ability Battery (HAB), the golden standard of aptitude testing (in my opinion), to do many things with his students. 

    With the HAB, Marc helps students… 

    • Identify which foreign language they should study
    • Pick their electives and foreign languages
    • Choose their college major
    • Select research opportunities that match their strengths
    • Find colleges that match the student's learning aptitudes
    • Pursue passion projects that capitalize on their aptitudes

    Sounds fun, right? Marc thinks it is. Ultimately, if combining career coaching and psychology interests you, Aptitude testing might be a good niche for you. If you want to use a href="https://www.counselmore.com/how-to-use-aptitude-testing-in-your-college-counseling-business" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener"> Aptitude Testing in Your IEC practice, feel free to contact my colleague, Marc. He’s always willing to mentor IECs on that process. 

    International Educational Consulting

    International admissions is a growing industry. This niche is for parents who have navigated the complexities of international admissions for their children or lived abroad. This niche focuses on understanding cultural nuances and preparing students for a global academic experience.

    Athletic Advisory

    This might be your niche if you've spent countless hours cheering for your child from the bleachers. It focuses on helping student-athletes balance sports with academics and understand NCAA regulations.

    Special Needs Consulting

    Parents of children with learning differences or disabilities can offer invaluable support and guidance to other families facing similar challenges. The transition from high school to college provides many service opportunities for students choosing schools with unique resources and the need to build social safety nets around their campus choice.

    Career Counseling

    This niche might resonate with you if you've guided your child through various career interests, from astronauts to zoologists. It goes beyond college admissions to help students align their academic pursuits with long-term career goals. There’s also a great synergy between aptitude testing and career counseling. 

    Gap Year Planning

    For parents who have seen the value of a gap year, this niche guides students in making the most of their time off, whether through travel, internships, or volunteer work.

    Remember, it may take time to establish yourself as an expert in your chosen niche. Consistency, quality service, and continuous learning are vital to gaining recognition and trust in the industry.

    Expanding Your Reach as an IEC

    Your journey in Independent Educational Consulting doesn't end with specialization. As a parent with a unique perspective, you have the potential to reach far beyond your immediate community. In today's digital age, online platforms and social media can be powerful tools for connecting with students and families nationwide. Consider starting a blog, hosting webinars, or even offering virtual workshops. By sharing your insights and experiences, you can become a valuable resource to a broader audience.

    Is Becoming an Independent Educational Consultant Right For You?

    The Rewards of IEC Being an Independent Educational Consultant is more than a job; it's a calling. The role is complex, requiring you to wear multiple hats—from advisor and mentor to strategist and aptitude tester. Yet, the rewards are manifold. Not only do you guide students to their dream colleges, but you also contribute to their overall personal development. Each skill you acquire and each success story you help write adds to your consultancy's credibility and unique sense of accomplishment. In this dynamic field, your adaptability and expertise are your greatest assets. So, as you continue on this rewarding path, know that each challenge met is a stepping stone to both professional and personal fulfillment.

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    Margaret Rothe

    Margaret Rothe

    One of the founders of CounselMore, Margaret has an extensive career in higher education. She is a driver of national development of live/learn on-campus communities, bridging gaps between staff and faculty, instructing First Year Experience courses, balancing admissions with enrollment goals, and even stepping into the role of campus public safety, she possesses a holistic understanding of college readiness.

    Tags: For Parents