Mark Sklarow, Executive Director of the Independent Educational Consultants Association was kind enough to sit-down with us and talk about educational consulting from a couple of perspectives.
In our first of two posts, our questions and his comments address how and why families come to educational consulting and the roles and contributions of consultants in a family’s school search. In our second conversation installment to be posted in the coming days, Mark talks about the history and current state of consulting- how it’s evolved and what consultants do today.
Question (Q): Describe why a family might want to consider working with an educational consultant?
Mark Sklarow (MS): Not all families need a consultant. Some families know exactly where a student would like to attend and have solid reasons to believe admission is fairly certain. Sometimes a family is looking for a secondary placement from a junior boarding school where many students move on together and the feeder school has well advised the family on the next step.
For many others selecting a school- whether a traditional prep school or a school specializing in students with learning, emotional or behavioral issues- is not easy or clear. A consultant knows schools in depth: their teaching philosophy, their social milieu, strengths and weaknesses, approach to arts, music and sports, and so much more. Other families smartly wish to cast a wide net: examining many possibilities in many communities before settling on a handful of “best matches.” Choosing a consultant is your best assurance that a student is well-suited to a particular school where a child will thrive.
Q: Families bring different situations and needs to the table– can you talk about the various type of consulting services available to families?
MS: Consultants offer a wide variety of services and specialties. Some have extensive experience in working with students who learn differently and need a school where accommodations can be best integrated into a student’s instructional plan. Other consultants have 20 years in working with students who need to work on behavior issues ranging from substance abuse to oppositional/defiant actions before a more traditional school is possible.
What is so clear is that every family situation, every student’s personality and academic needs are different. A great consultant is one who get to know and understand your family, the student and can suggest appropriate testing, provide needed advice and creative ideas and place the student first to ensure a successful match and a positive educational and social experience.
Q: What added value does a consultant bring to an educational decision?
MS: A consultant adds value by saving a family time, energy and expense that comes from tracking down every possible school placement option among the hundreds of schools that are possibilities. A consultant can focus in on the most appropriate possibilities so that school visits are made only when appropriate. “Wrong” choices often result in mid-year transfers, lost credits, lost tuition and a loss of self-confidence. A consultant seeks to ensure a good match, decreasing the odds of such disappointments.
Q: What role does the IECA play in the educational consulting community and what does a family need to know about the IECA?
MS: For over 30 years, the IECA has been the most respected voice in educational consulting. Our ethical guidelines, high standards and required training have led our members to be leaders in the field, working with virtually every school admission office in the United States. When working with an IECA members families can be assured their consultant is knowledgeable, ethical, and well-respected by schools and their peers.
Coming soon in Part II of our conversation: “Mark Sklarow talks about educational consulting from the perspective of an industry leader“