Lessons from the $2 Million Admission Attempt

How to Determine if an Educational Consultant is Legitimate: Five missed signs that a family was being conned.
Mark Sklarow IECA Executive Director
Mark Sklarow IECA Executive Director
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Educational Consultant


Fairfax - Virginia - US

Oct. 10, 2012 - PRLog -- There have been recent reports that a Hong Kong family paid $2.2 million in an attempt to gain admission to Harvard University through the services of a con artist posing as an educational consultant. There were five missed signs that the family was being conned.

First, the agent was charging the family $8,000 a month for college admission guidance for their two sons. That amount is closer to what should be a single fee, over a multi-year period to work comprehensively with a student.

Second, the agent made representation that he could guarantee admission. No ethical educational consultant can make such a guarantee or imply that they can.

Third, the alleged criminal’s communications with the parents were all about ‘getting in.’ One of the surest ways to determine whether an independent educational consultant (IEC) is legitimate is to look at the language on their Web site. A good IEC will promote their services as a way to find a good match where a student will succeed one matriculating. A good result is measured over four years, not the day the acceptance letter arrives.

Fourth, this individual had never been vetted and held no national or international credential. The surest way to judge the legitimacy of an independent educational consultant is to see if they are a member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA) http://www.educationalconsulting.org/. The professional organization examines every aspect of a candidate: education, experience, on-going training, professional references, and marketing materials, and accepts into membership only 10% of those claiming to be an IEC. Don’t trust everything you see on an individual’s Web site. Con artists know that IECA is the “gold standard” and can improperly claim to belong. Verify their IECA membership at http://www.IECAonline.com or call the IECA office at 703-591-4850.

Finally, no educational consultant will act as a middleman for donations to a school. If the family is able to make such a contribution, the IEC will put the family directly in touch with a university’s development office and donations would be made directly.

According to IECA’s Executive Director, Mark Sklarow, “The college application process is such an anxious time for students and families and everyone can relate to a family wanting to do the most they can to assist their child.” To help families determine if an educational consultant is legitimate, IECA offers a consumer checklist, 12 Questions to Ask Before Hiring an Educational Consultant (http://www.iecaonline.com/PDF/IECA_12-Questions.pdf)

About IECA
Established in 1976, the Independent Educational Consultants Association is the international organization representing independent school and college advisors working in private practice. IECA member educational consultants are professionals who assist students and families with educational decision-making. Their educational backgrounds, specialized training, campus visitations, and professional experience equip them to help students choose schools, colleges, or programs that meet their individual needs and goals. Membership in the association requires consultants to meet IECA’s professional standards and subscribe to its Principles of Good Practice
(http://www.iecaonline.com/PDF/IECA_Principles_of_Good_Practice.pdf). Members continually update their knowledge and maintain skills through IECA-sponsored meetings, workshops, training programs, and information exchanges with colleges.
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Tags:Educational Consultant, Education, Ieca, Admissions, Fraud
Industry:Education, Consumer
Location:Fairfax - Virginia - United States
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