What is an educational consultant?
An educational consultant is a trained professional. Hired by families to help guide them through educational transitions, a consultant thoroughly evaluates a student’s academic/social/emotional needs and suggests educational options, such as colleges, schools, or therapeutic programs to meet those needs. Consultants do not accept compensation from colleges, schools, or programs, thus allowing them to remain objective in their evaluation of a provider’s mission and work solely on behalf of a student and family. An educational consultant’s job is to find the right match to ensure that a student is happy and successful.
How do I choose the right consultant for my family?
There are several important factors to consider in choosing the right educational consultant. Don’t be afraid to ask consultants pointed and straight forward questions during your interview process; you are putting your child’s future in their hands.
- Consider the consultants background and training – Look for a consultant with an educational degree, employment history, and ongoing training efforts that make you confident in their level of knowledge.
- Consider the consultant’s organizational affiliations – There are many wonderful organizations that have been created to educate, aid, train, and support educational consults, such as IECA, HECA, and NACAC. Look for a consultant who supports relevant associations by way of membership and active participation.
- Consider the consultant’s specialty – In a time where our complex society inundates us with information and choices, the field of educational consulting, has developed specialties. Being that it is impossible to gain and maintain knowledge of all areas of education, look for a consultant whose practice specializes in the area of interest to your family. Some examples of specialties are; Learning Disabilities, Special Needs, K-12 Schools, Traditional Boarding Schools, College.
- Consider the consultant’s customer service – Customer service is essential in a field that is build around individualized counseling and relationship building. Find a consultant who is readily available and is willing to meet on an unlimited basis.
- Consider the consultant’s personality, style, and reassuring nature – Regardless of why you are seeking out the services of an educational consultant, one thing is for sure; you are in need of help. A consultant will not be helpful unless you AND your child are comforted by their presence and advice.
A little research will go a long way to insure that your relationship with your educational consultant is a positive, long lasting one!
What is post-secondary placement?
Not all students are ready for or desire an independent, traditional college experience immediately following high school. Luckily, this is such a common circumstance that there are hundreds of programs across the country that serve these students. Students typically attend one or a combination of these programs for a year or more, and most fall within one of these categories.
PG-13 – Post Graduate 13th Year. Located on its own campus or on the campus of a boarding high school, students in a PG-13 year can increase their academic skills, test their independence, and/or increase their GPA (popular for student athletes), and usually earn some college credit before applying to a college/university the following year.
Gap Year – A year of “hand on, experiential” learning through travel, community service, internship, outdoor adventure, exploration, or a combination of one or more of the above. The purpose of a gap year is to take a break from traditional work, to mature, or to find direction. Colleges and universities look highly upon a gap year before admissions.
Independent Living Skills/Vocational Programs – The goal of these programs to teach students the skills necessary to live on their own, care for themselves, socialize independently, and find an appropriate vocational program or job.
Transitional College Programs – Programs that focus on the transition from high school to independent college life. Using a coaching or therapy based model, students are aided in the academic transition through advising and tutoring, social judgment through mentoring, and independent living skills through budgeting, time management, and organization.
When should I begin to work with a consultant to plan for life after high school?
Many families are acutely aware, at an early age, that their child will need help transitioning from life at home during high school to independent adulthood after graduation. In these cases, Academic Options begins working with students once they enter high school to begin planning for the future. Understanding the options available at the post-secondary level often eases the academic, social, and emotional decisions parents face during their child’s high school years. With some good planning, intervention, support, and guidance, a student’s list of options may grow considerably if they use the high school years to work on skills necessary to succeed at the post-secondary level. For other families, time goes by so quickly that they find themselves facing immediate decisions about life after high school without having information about available options. Academic Options is experienced in both long term planning and immediate placement at the post secondary level.