Each year more than 1,000,000 students choose to pursue higher education in North America. With more than 3,000 universities and colleges, and an even more impressive number of academic programs to choose from, it is hardly surprising that so many choose to study in Canada or the United States.
Understandably choosing the right university or college can feel overwhelming. Many families turn to independent educational consultants to assist with the university/college search. In fact, a 2009 study conducted by Lipman Hearne, one the United States’ leading marketing and communication firms, found that 26 percent of high-achieving high school seniors hired an independent educational consultant. That percentage is likely higher today.
Why hire an independent educational consultant?
Choosing a university or college as well as course of study is a very important decision in a young person’s life. Few decisions have as great an impact on a student. While the Internet makes it easy to find useful information, independent educational consultants can help you narrow the range of choices by providing insightful qualitative analysis and advice. Independent educational consultants provide families access to reliable and unbiased information. Consultants have not only visited a number of university and college campuses, and often placed students at these, they are also knowledgeable about admission processes and advise families each step of the way.
Some families also choose to hire an independent educational consultant for the individualized attention. Guidance counselors at most high schools are unable to individually assist students with the university application process. They either have too many students and/or have many more responsibilities in addition to university counselling. Independent educational consultants can take most of the stress out of the admission process by being an objective, third-party, helping the student transition from high school to university or university to university. In addition, knowledgeable consultants are familiar with local, national as well as international educational options.
Independent educational consultants who are members of organizations such as Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA) and Higher Education Consultants Association (HECA) are committed to the highest ethical standards of practice. Their interactions with institutions of higher education, parents and students are strictly regulated. Members agree to avoid any action that misrepresents a student’s record or interferes with a university’s ability to accurately evaluate a student. You will find these consultants will prioritize the student’s best interest. Before choosing a consultant, it is important for families to interview with them as each will have a particular style, approach and fee structure.
When navigating the university admission process, seeking the services of an independent educational consultant can be a wise investment, particularly when you consider the fees involved may be less than 3 percent of the total cost of a university degree. Consulting with a knowledgeable expert with the experience to guide your family through this important decision can be the difference between a very good match and a less than ideal university experience.
Teo Salgado is principal of VerveSmith – Independent Educational Consultants based in Toronto, ON (Canada)
Photos credit: Teo Salgado – Western University