CollegePlannerPro Blog

The Value of an Independent Educational Consultant

Posted by Sherri Graf on June 26, 2020

Twas the year before college, the world was not the norm
The freshman were virtually visiting universities and filling out forms 

The essays were submitted and edited with care
GPAs and Test scores ranging everywhere 

The IECs guided and coached them to this day
Now proudly waiting to hear what admissions will say 

The students applied just like they were led
While visions of scholarships danced in their heads

Visits with Professors, looking forward to the semester ahead
New friendships to make and books to be read 

The FAFSA was complete, each line done right
Filling out the forms for Sallie Mae tonight 

I got a text and opened my phone with a swipe
I just had a feeling someone might need to Skype 

I opened my laptop and who did I see?
It was another IEC chatting with me 

While our job was technically done,
We care so deeply for each and every one

Their futures are bright as bright as can be
Though we know they can’t all go to an Ivy League

Test scores, applications; don’t forget the resume’
Letters of Recommendation, keep us busy everyday 

Our eyes how they burned, our heads filled with prompts
Good thing we had College Planner Pro to help us with our thoughts 

Now Carly, Now Katie, Now Derek, Now Terri!
We are in this together, no need to be wary 

Tuition is rising and soon to be due
No worries, we have scholarships for you 

I had no more energy; it was time for bed
Loans, grants and financial aid, it all hurts my head 

I knew I had to help them find money or they would scream
Just Imagine where they could go, with a scholarship and a dream 

The next morning, I awoke and sprang to my feet
There were application deadlines and new students to greet. 

I realized this day, the critical role of an IEC
It is more valuable than students and parents ever thought it could be


I thought we could all use a little laugh in the middle of 2020. What a year it has been for IECs, students and parents. The impact of our current situation will have a significant impact on the world of college admissions and the choice of schools available to students in the future. Your role of an IEC is more valuable than ever.

College Admissions is a marathon, not a sprint. The value of an IEC is irreplaceable in the process and even more so now. The value the IEC brings is found in each step of the process.

If the student is fortunate enough to begin working with an IEC early in high school, the IEC will be able to help guide the student to the correct course offerings allowing the student to shine academically, set them up for the best GPA as well as help them earn college credits through AP Courses, Dual Credit and Subject Tests. This part of the process can save the student many hours in college as well as dollars in tuition.

The IEC will also be able to help the student identify opportunities for community service as well as leadership roles in school and summer internship possibilities. This will help the student build a resume’ that will set he or she apart from the competition they are soon to face.

Once the admissions process begins, the years of experience from the IEC brings critical insight into the picture. This becomes a scale tipping situation as the IEC can help guide the student to school and major selections that are a good match for them.

Once a few schools have been selected, the IEC will help the student through each step of the process including valuable application and essay strategies. With the changes in 2020 the test scores will be optional for the next few years, putting more emphasis on the essay and application. IECs will be critical in helping students present the best version of themselves to schools, each step of the way.

Many IECs go even farther to offer students help and support with financial aid packages and assessing offers from each school. It is this step in the process that I found my students / families struggling. The excitement came with the acceptance letters and then……reality set it. The family hadn’t counted the entire cost of what this education would mean financially. I felt a burden to help students and families find money for college in an organized and efficient way. I had previously pointed them to the large scholarship search engines. I could see the “deer in the headlight look” on their faces as they felt overwhelmed with too many options and no way to keep track of it all.

As an IEC for over 10 years and a mother of 4, I knew I had to find a simpler solution for my students as well as my own children. I have one son in medical school and 2 daughters in college and 1 daughter still in high school. I wanted to find a solution to help each of them in their stage of education find money for school, that is how Imagine Scholarships was born. I could only “imagine where they could go with a dream and a scholarship.”

I built the IMAGINE SCHOLARSHIPS database and app that are very simple, organized and efficient. It filters scholarships for each unique student, their grade level, state, hobbies, interests and academic profile as well as first generation and or trade school options. There are scholarships for all students, including middle school students, high school students, current college students and graduate students. Because time and lowering the frustration level of students was of utmost importance to me, I am careful to not include what I call “scrap” scholarships in the database. These are the scholarships that are out for their own best interest by collecting email addresses for their marketing efforts. I also seek out unique scholarships that are available to non - traditional students or those that aren’t in a need based situation. The scholarships are for everyone, even families who wouldn’t qualify for support with the FAFSA. The scholarships are updated every 24 hours and I am always on the lookout for opportunities for our students so I’ve included some internship opportunities in the database as well. Though the database has only been up and running for a few months, my students have found great success so far. I also created the CASH FOR COLLEGE COURSE, outlining the best strategies I’ve learned over the last 10+ years in helping students find money for college. My students and my own children love the simplicity of the process and enjoy making it a part of their daily routine of finding money for college. This makes this mom and this IEC, very happy :)

Scholarship Webinar

While helping our students and parents with financial opportunities is of utmost importance, I believe there is an even greater value that the IEC can add to the life of a student. The IEC is a support, guide and encouragement to a teen in transition. Having a mentor and someone cheering on a student each step of the race is something that no price tag can be assigned to. In a world of social media and instant gratification, the investment of an IEC in the life of a teen can’t be underestimated.

In fact, isn’t that what every teen needs? Someone cheering them on through the hard days of high school, reminding them that their value isn’t in social media or the opinion of others? A trusted guide assuring them their future is still full of potential despite a low test grade or a failed course. An IEC can be a coach that leads the teen to the finish line of high school and helps point them to the bright future that is waiting ahead for them. Every teen needs a smile and a cheering section, especially when they feel they don’t deserve it. Every teen needs a mentor and counselor like you in their life.

You see, your value as an IEC doesn’t have a dollar amount, it instead has a smile at graduation, a cap tossed into the air, a confidence that you gave them, pushing them towards a bright future ahead. Your legacy lives on with each student that graduates, whether virtually or on a stage, your impact will go on to change the world. You were worth the investment. You are an important piece of the puzzle. You are the most valuable resource they have been given. You are an IEC.

I would love to hear the stories of you and your successes with your students. Please share anytime, I am cheering you on, my fellow IEC!

Topics: Best Practices