A 2012 CNN report about a Hong Kong couple who kept a consultant on a $2 million retainer (to steer their sons from elite U.S. boarding schools into Harvard, of course) left me thinking about the importance of declaring my ethics as an education consultant. After all, a common assumption those of us in the field face is that we’re in the business of helping children of the rich gain an even greater advantage than they already possess over less affluent but more ambitious and industrious youth. While my sliding fee scale and occasional pro bono missions allow me to work with applicants from a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds, my standards are consistent for them all:
- I don’t guarantee anyone admission to any school or acquisition of any funding.
- Although I offer networking assistance – generally with the goal of competitively positioning people for academic programs both before and after admission – I don’t accept money for placement or a referral, and I don’t promise to introduce clients to people who can “get them in.”
- For fairness’ sake, I keep abreast of field standards through conversations with other education consultants in my network – including one favorably profiled in The New York Times.
- When I’m not already familiar with the schools a client expresses interest in attending, I engage in online correspondences with students, faculty and administration at those schools at the very least, and arrange to visit the schools in person when time and money permit. Especially for international applicants, my sleuthing service can entail special campus visits; this, however, requires that the client cover my travel and lodging expenses prior to my departure, as specified in an SOW (Statement of Work).
- Fees and services to be provided are clarified in the aforementioned SOW before we begin working together. Service begins only after you sign or electronically initial that SOW.
- I don’t pretend to be the leading expert in the field. In addition to being an admissions consultant, I’m also a writer and content marketer, and I’ve held several other positions since I first entered the workforce in July 1999. That said, admissions processes are a much more personal interest of mine than they are for the many people who walk into education consulting with dollar signs in their eyes after hearing it described as “booming.” My hope is that through a combination of education, passion, and personal and professional experience, I can offer you a better admissions consulting experience than you might get from some of the big (and much costlier) firms.
If this post still leaves you with questions about my process and services, please E-mail them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org!