Why is the industry difficult to regulate?In the U.S. for example, there are several organizations seeking to oversee the industry, including the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) and the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA). However, despite their best efforts, the industry still remains highly unregulated. Why? Because the barriers to entry are low (anyone can claim they are admission gurus), no license is required to practice (entrants can ignore recommended quality/ethical guidelines), the global market of applicants is seemingly endless and inelastic (demand remains high regardless of economic swings), and competition to top universities as well as costs are increasing (so parents are becoming more desperate to give their child a competitive-edge). What does this all mean? It is impossible to regulate an industry that is easy to join, high in demand, difficult to monitor, and so remote in geography (think gig economy). As a result, there are your fair share of charlatans that are selling pipe dreams at exuberant costs, and even committing fraud to get students admitted into top programs. Just look at Rick Singer and the recent college admissions scandal. However, it has to be said, these people are the exception rather than the norm. So what is the answer? While tackling the whole industry may be challenging, I can provide guidance, based on my experience, on how to overcome an unregulated market for admissions consultants. Ultimately, I highly recommend that you become as informed as possible when considering whether you need an admissions consultant. Then be prepared to ask these key questions to find the right one for your child.
Do you need an admissions consultant?In deciding this, ask yourself these questions. Is your child stressed out trying to desperately manage extra-curricular activities, coursework, volunteer experience, standardized test prep, academic tutoring etc.? Does your son or daughter feel lost and overwhelming trying to figure out the ‘right’ story to stand out, which standardized tests to take, when to apply, where to get letters of recommendation? Are you having difficulty figuring out the visa process, what documents are needed for financial support, what is a suitable list of schools that aligns with your child’s goals and interests? If this is the case, then you will stand to benefit immeasurably by having an admissions consultant who will act as your child’s personalized high school counselor, coach and admissions guide. From our experience here are just some of the pieces of advice we provided our clients in Egypt and around the world that may be relatable to you:
- Start the application process far in advance to give yourself time to respond to various requirements by the different schools related to testing, grade verification, financial information, additional application materials, etc.
- Figure out when to apply (early action vs. early decision vs. regular admissions) and manage, through a strict calendaring system, the numerous deadlines.
- Keep in mind the differences between the application requirements and how to frame your story to match the various essay prompts.
- Research standardized testing exams/strategies and take the exam early in the process in case of cancelations (we saw this happen numerous times in 2019).