Getting your Money’s Worth when Thinking of College
South Oregon’s Mail Tribune publishes an article “Will that college degree pay off in the long run?” and makes us reflect on the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics. These state, among other things, that a college education might not necessarily be the ticket to the American Dream. Statistics report that “seven of the 10 employment sectors that will see the largest gains over the next decade won’t require much more than some on-the-job training.” It is also of great concern the fact that only 25% of all college graduates this year had a job waiting for them upon graduation, and this statistic actually improved from the 20% of last year. However, no one questions that a college education is valuable, and this is shown by the unemployment rate of this population sector being half (4.7%) of what it is for workers that only hold a high school diploma. Also to note is the “Federal statistics for 2008 show that men 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree pulled down a median salary of $65,800. That compares with a median of $39,010 for men in the same age group with only a high school diploma”, from The Mail Tribune. These are only two statistics that directly show that college is a good investment if pursued with a sense of purpose.
These sense of purpose makes evident to us the fact that there are strategies to follow when wanting to get the most bang for your buck, when investing in a college education. This is where an Educational Consultant can be of great assistance to you and your family. An Educational Consultant can help students find careers have the right fit with the student while also being on demand in the labor market.
What are we to expect when seeking help from an educational consultant? How do we choose a consultant who will do the job right? What is a job well done in educational consulting?
Here are some observations and information you should have handy when choosing someone to work with you or your family (son / daughter) in college admissions:
1- Seek a professional with at least some experience in the admissions field. Someone who has worked as interviewer or within an admissions office, can provide an insider´s perspective on how admissions work. Also, this professional will probably have passion for the field, having demonstrated work experience in it, working with students and in academia.
2- Find someone who is familiar in working with students and/or teenagers. A professional who has worked in education in the past, or who has gained experience with teenagers will be able to connect with college and grad school applicants better than someone used never before worked with this group. Often times, you will find professionals who have worked with students in diverse environments, as counselors in non-profit organizations or summer camps, as mentors, or even in the corporate world with companies that cater to that specific target. Usually, professionals that have worked with students/teenagers before becoming a counselor have a passion for relating to teenagers, and especially for this reason, become successful when seeking to relate to students. They are able to connect better, and enhance chances of getting things done with students.
3- Seek for Certified Educational Consultants. To the surprise of many, certifications do exist in College Admissions! Independent Counselors can and should get certified. At present, there are three certificate programs available, one of which is provided by UCLA and called The College Counseling Certificate Program. This extensive online program not only demands hard work (it usually takes over a year to complete), but it consists in seven classes, the last one being a practical course to be conducted in the college counseling office of a high school. Same goes for the College Counseling certificate program offered by UC Berkeley, and the CEP – Certified Educational Planner, for which you can only apply after earning years of expertise in the field. Independent consultants can and should get certified. Ensure the person you are seeking advice from is.
4- Look for a professional with degrees that are conductive to the work they are currently doing. Having earned a master in education or in counseling is very valuable in the counseling profession. Several graduate school programs allow for more expertise in the field. Even an MBA can work when considering the expertise of a college adviser, however, not on its own. An MBA plus experience in the field and a certification can provide a great combination of skills, allowing the professional to have a background in marketing, easily applicable to candidates, plus keen interest in education.
5- Find a counselor who has sought membership to leading industry associations. There are several associations that group educational consultants, colleges and professionals related to college and graduate school admissions. Some of them are IECA, NACAC, SACAC, HECA and AIGAC. For most of these organizations, if you do not have at least three years of experience in the field, you cannot be admitted as a member. This means that professionals involved with these associations have to abide by certain rules and regulations that are hard to follow and comply with. These associations not only provide opportunities for continuing education, they also set standard laws for the industry which have to do with ethical and unethical behavior, what is expected and what is not allowed. A professional involved with these associations is one that you will be able to have more confidence that he/she will do the job ethically and responsibly.
6- Continuing education through educational consulting associations is a must for independent counselors. As in many fields of work, professionals that keep up to date with the latest market trends, technologies and industry information are the ones that will allow you to continue progressing when seeking your goals. Continuing education is as important in this field of educational consulting as in any other. Educational consultants that are leaders in the field attend on average two conferences per year to ensure they continue being on top of the industry trends. Seek counselors that are active within the industry associations and that often participate in continuing education programs.
7- Understand that exorbitant consulting fees are not directly related to results. Some consultants decide to offer advice for tens of thousands of dollars, while others offer reasonable fees well below ten thousand. The ones that are able to provide more reasonable fees most of the times consider that the student should lead this process, working in their college admissions while continuing to be a high school student, teenager, sportsman, or anything else he/she desires to be. If college admissions will be the sole thing in the student´s life for months or years, the college adviser is not doing his job right. College counseling is a part of life, one we must dedicate energy to, but not devote completely ourselves to. Find someone who thinks this way and you will have one happy and triumphant teenager who feels good about him/herself and the next step they will be taking in their lives.
8- If you are international, it is advantageous to find someone who speaks your own language and understands your culture, while being able to also comply with the rest of the standards of a top counselor. A consultant that can communicate with you in your native tongue will be able to have a different level of understanding of your qualifications. It is about not getting “Lost in Translation”, it is about knowing what the differences are between the admissions process in one country vs. another. An educational consultant that has knowledge of your own country’s admissions process can better explain the differences between that and the one in the U.S. They will know what the most important challenges are for you, better than other consultants who do not possess this experience.
9- And finally, find a counselor that will be able to understand who you are, what your goals are and what would work as a right fit for you. Some counselors specialize in certain students, international, diverse, high achievers, students with LD’s, first generation. If you are an immigrant, for example, a counselor that understands the basics of the visa process and some visa options will provide valuable information to you. Ask the counselor what types of students he/she has worked with in the past. The counselor’s own past experiences might prove useful to you. Seek someone that can relate to your needs and interests, and can understand your concerns, so that they are prepared to address them with professionalism.
What do we look for in a great college admissions process? We focus on finding the right fit for the student academically, socially and in every single aspect of their lives. We seek an institution that will inspire the student to seek their maximum potential and provide career growth opportunities like the student never imagined. This should be the goal of the educational consulting process, helping you and your family make the smartest investment, when thinking of college education, and soon, professional success.
Some other new statistics for this year by Kathy Bitschenauer from the Career Management Alliance:
- · “Middle-skilled occupations such as sales, office and administration positions perhaps most readily open to community college graduates have shown little or no growth over the last decade, and they fell sharply during the recession, according to research by David Autor, an economics professor at MIT.
- · Research shows that inflation-adjusted wages of workers with less than a four-year college degree fell steeply between 1979 and 2007, particularly for men.
- · Many employers regard a four-year degree as a must, even for positions that can be handled by high school graduates.
- · The Bureau of Labor statistics predicts some clear winners in the years ahead. Registered nurses, who generally have an associate’s degree, will grow by more than 580,000 over the coming decade. The bureau reports biomedical engineers as the fastest-growing occupation, expanding by 72 percent from 2008 to 2018 (but only 16,000 such workers in 2008).”