If you've decided that a college admissions coach is a good investment, how do you go about finding an effective one? What qualities and credentials should a good coach possess?
The field of educational planning is relatively new and largely unregulated. Simply put, anyone can hang up a shingle and open up shop. In addition, the field has, interestingly, attracted professionals in former careers such as law, journalism, and even marketing! There is no doubt that one needs to be organized and erudite to obtain a law degree, possess exceptional writing skills as a journalist, or have marketing savvy as an advertising specialist. Are these the qualities to look for in a college admissions coach? Perhaps. One could certainly make an argument for the importance of each these skills as it relates to college admissions coaching and the applications process. To be fair, if an individual possesses a passion for helping students and has experience in college admissions coaching, why begrudge him/ her the opportunity to transition into a new career? Still, there ought to be a distinction made between someone who has spent a lifetime counseling students in a college setting (or in private practice) and someone who has not.
A college admissions coach should possess a Master's degree in Counseling, Student Affairs, or related field. This illustrates a deep commitment to the field as well as a theoretical and practical understanding of issues related to academic planning/career development and student developmental theory.
A college admissions coach should relate well to students and families and all should feel comfortable with, and motivated by, him/her as he/she will spend numerous hours with students and families over the course of the year. It is an understatement to say that a coach must be approachable, caring, flexible, organized, punctual, and sensitive to students' needs.
A College Admissions Coach/Specialist should be a Certified Educational Planner (CEP) and be a member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA). This is important as the field is largely unregulated and CEP certification and affiliation with the Independent Educational Consultants Association demands that certain educational, professional, and ethical standards are met by its members.
WORD OF CAUTION
Be wary of college admissions coaches who guarantee acceptance to a particular college/university. It is unethical for a coach to use his connections to lobby on behalf of a particular student. High acceptance rates are wonderful and expected, but the numbers are essentially meaningless when it comes to a specific student. Success rates are contingent upon the college selections made in relation to a particular student's chances of acceptance. Every student is unique and brings with him varying educational achievements, experiences, career goals, etc. What matters most is acceptance to the best school for her.