Ethics in the Independent Education Consultant (IEC) Profession

On Tuesday March 12, 2019, a nationwide bribery and fraud scheme to help students gain admission to elite colleges and universities came to light.  This has shocked members of the Independent Education Consultant community and, I’m sure, many parents of students who are currently using or considering using a college consultant to help their son or daughter navigate the college admissions process.  So, who can you trust and how can you protect yourself?  There are two main ways families can ensure they are working with an individual or organization that abides by ethical consulting practices: fully vetting the college consultant and the consultant’s participation in appropriate associations.

First, when deciding to work with a college consultant, it is very important that you vet them fully.  There are several red flags that families should be aware of when working with a College Consultant; IECA has come up with a list of 12 Questions to Ask Before Hiring an IEC and 12 Warning Signs that an IEC is Not Worth Hiring.

Second, there are three main college consultant associations.  Each association has a strict Code of Ethics that the consultant is required to follow and Annapolis College Consulting is proud to be a member of all three associations.

  1. Independent Education Consultants Association (IECA)
  2. Higher Education Consultants Association (HECA)
  3. National Association for College Admissions Counselors (NACAC) or their local NACAC group

Here, you can view the Code of Ethics for IECA, HECA, and NACAC.

In Mark Skarlow’s (IECA’s CEO) State of the Profession 2018 presentation, he stated:

  • 30 years ago, the percentage of IEC’s that “belonged” to a professional association was over 80%
  • Today the 2,700+ affiliated IECs represent only 20% of the total

This means that families who fail to fully vet their college consultant have an 80% chance of working with someone who has no standard of ethics that they are being held accountable.  This is not to say that all unaffiliated college consultants are unethical people, however, families can rest much easier at night by working with someone who is affiliated with at least one of the professional organizations that were mentioned previously.

It is without a doubt disheartening to have this scandal drag good, caring, ethical college consultant’s names through the mud.  However, I am confident that the light this is shedding on the profession will bring more awareness of the services that are available to students and families and encourage them to seek out the “good ones.”

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