I had the distinct opportunity to attend the Independent Educational Consultants Association’s (IECA) Spring Conference in Chicago from May 8th through May 10th, 2019. There were over 1,400 independent education consultants in attendance from 45 states and 19 countries. So much knowledge was shared amongst colleagues, informative workshops, and key speakers such as Arne Duncan, the former United States Secretary of Education. Additionally, many admissions officials from prominent universities throughout the country such as Case Western Reserve, Northeastern, and Rice participated in admissions workshops on a variety of topics.
I have listed 3 key client takeaways from the numerous admissions workshops that I attended:
1. Big data analytics tracking in college admissions is here to stay. It is commonly known as demonstrated interest and a new concept to many parents. As students are applying to more colleges than ever, a majority of colleges are looking to data analytics to help them discern the genuinely interested applicants who will eventually matriculate. Therefore, it is important for an applicant to understand the utility of demonstrated interest factors at each of the individual colleges on their list. Interestingly, some colleges may use the admissions data gathered over a period of years to aid in the planning of major capital construction projects.
2. Families are more interested than ever in in an investment return on their child’s college education. It is not uncommon or “off limits” for families to ask specific questions about program starting salaries, companies that hire graduates, and specific job placement services. If families are not asking about these areas when visiting colleges, they are missing out on a crucial area of comparison. Small liberal arts colleges are making concerted efforts to highlight the employment success of their graduates, as they possess the in-demand employable skills such as writing, critical thinking, and creativity.
3. Engineering programs are more competitive than ever from admissions to increasing academic requirements on campus. Students are best served to find colleges where they will not be academically overwhelmed and are able to excel in the academic rigor. Students who struggle academically will have less job opportunities than their classmates who attained higher grades and may even endure the delay of graduating in four years. Many leading engineering programs at large universities are incorporating “soft skills” in their humanities classes to encourage collaboration and people skills, which top engineering employers are now seeking.
Overall, the conference provided a vast amount of college admissions knowledge that will benefit all of my college planning clients! Moreover, I had the opportunity to make meaningful networking connections with independent education consultants and admissions officials throughout the country which will provide an enhanced level of client support.