In the world of admission there are a number of acronyms bandied about with very little explanation why they are important. With the love of acronyms in Asia, it is important to understand what stands behind the name. While it is easy to understand CBD (Central Business District) for example, it does not really cover all that happens in that district of Beijing. But one gets a sense that certainly business happens there but what kind of business? The same is true of organizations with long names that get shortened to make them easier to say. NACAC is a prime example – The National Association of College Admission Counseling, is a large organization composed of universities and schools (mostly in the US but also the UK, Canada, Australia etc.) whose main purpose is to support and advocate for students in the admission process.
The depth at which NACAC does its work goes beyond conferences involving universities and high school counselors. At the government level, members of NACAC speak to members of Congress once a year to ensure that the playing field is as level as possible for all students no matter their background. They also work with companies like College Board and ACT, TOEFL and IELTS to ensure testing companies are providing access to students. Most importantly is the Statement of Principals and Good Practice (SPGP), the guidelines by which schools, both universities and high schools, should (ethical guidelines) act in support of all students to higher education.
In terms of how this affects students and families it is important to know there are ethical practices that schools expect in the application process. This is why it is important when seeking an educational consultant that you know what you are looking for in a company that is offering services in the admission process. The main organization in the process, whether students are applying to boarding school or university, is IECA – Independent Educational Consultants Association. There are other organizations as well, but for the purposes of this article the focus is on IECA.
IEC’s or members of IECA by becoming a member of IECA agree to follow the SPGP of NACAC, as they are integral to advocating and working with students and their families. Becoming a member of IECA is select and there are two types of membership: Associate and Professional. At the heart of membership is experience in an education and background.
To become an Associate Membership requires the following:
- Resume of professional experiences (typically in a school, but not always. Preference is toward those who have worked in a school/university setting in admission
- Other professional experiences
- Official transcript of highest degree attained (Bachelors)
Current marketing plan for the company that meets the expectations of the organization
- Personal reference from an other IEC, school, college, or program admission officer
Any other information pertinent to becoming a member Becoming a Professional member is similar, but more critical:
- Must have a Masters degree
- Three years practicing as an IEC Minimum number of students worked with "a) 35 students advised in private practice or b) 50 students advised: a minimum of 10 students advised in private practice”
- Minimum number of schools visited: “College: 50 visits; Boarding/Day Schools: 25 visits”
- Three letters of recommendation from educational settings
The point of this is that not just anyone can become an IEC. IEC’s are held to strict membership guidelines and once becoming an IEC held to strict ethical standards. Plus they must know what they are talking about. They are experts in the field and designation. For example some are experts only in boarding schools and programs, others only do university placement, others still do both. There are specialty designations like Therapeutic Programs, Learning Disabilities, International Advising and Graduate School. For these designations, members have proven background and apply for the specific designation.
IEC’s are trained professionals in the field of education. Much like a Lawyer or Accountant in some ways. They bring a wealth of experience to their career; have a passion for working with students helping them find the right “fit” schools to further their future. It goes without saying that any family interested in seeking a consultant should look for a member of IECA. For more information on IECA, please visit their website: www.iecaonline.com. If you would like more information about NACAC, please visit their website: www.nacacnet.org
Photo: Jack Dorsey (flickr)