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Why Certification Is Important: Ann Rossbach, Certified Educational Planner

Friday, July 26, 2019

During a phone call with a father and potential client this week, I was surprised to hear that he felt I had a “brand.”  In thinking about this over the past few days, I have reflected on how I have built that expertise and – just as importantly – how and why I have an obligation to sustain it.

Once I started practicing as an independent educational consultant (IEC), I wanted to align myself with others who sought to be informed and who were willing to stand up and stand out as experts in our field. After joining a membership organization, I quickly realized that many of my professional colleagues had sought credentialing from AICEP. It wasn’t long before I was working toward that goal.

As IECs we have choices to align ourselves with professional organizations that support our work. AICEP requires that its members continue to enhance our education and document our contributions to our profession. And so, as our profession comes under scrutiny by families, institutions and legislators, I feel secure in knowing that as a Certified Educational Planner I am among a cohort that values the time and energy it takes to be an expert in the field of educational consulting. I find my resources for education and relevant experiences through other associations, but it is AICEP that actually requires me to document continuing education.

Now . . . . that brand. Many parents have raised questions – and an eyebrow – about the value of our work following the recent admissions scandal. Recently I have been asked if our work is necessary or “worth it.”  I’m not sure of all that may be included in the definition of my brand (according to this father’s opinion), but I am certain that my ethical approach and willingness to work towards a goal of life-long learning, along with the desire to share my expertise and the fulfillment of staying abreast of an ever-shifting admissions landscape is part of it.  And so is being associated with AICEP.

Ann Rossbach, M. A.
Certified Educational Planner
Professional Member and former President, IECA
Member: NACAC, NJACAC, SACAC, & Learning Disabilities Association (LDA)


Meet The 2019 - 20 Executive Team And New Commissioners

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

The AICEP Commission is pleased to announce the election of a new executive committee team as well as the appointment of new Commissioners Dr. Erin Avery, CEPSandy Furth, CEPSteve Syverson, and Jake Weld, M. Ed. These Commissioners join Lora Block, CEPKathie Carnahan, CEPVita Cohen, CEPKatelyn Klapper, CEPErika Smith, CEP, Dr. Rachel Sobel, CEP, and Julia Surtshin, CEP, as members of the 2019 - 20 Commission Board.  The Commission is also advised by Dr. Steven R. Antonoff, CEP, and Past Chair, Judith Bass, CEP. 

2019 – 20 Executive Team



Katelyn Gleason Klapper, newly elected Chair of AICEP, has 30 years of experience working in higher education and college consulting and is the founder of College Options, LLC. Katelyn has worked on the campuses of Boston University, Bentley College and WPI and has been an independent educational consultant since 2005. She is an instructor in the University of California, Irvine’s Certificate Program in Independent Educational Consulting, is a former board member of the Higher Education Consultants Association (HECA), having served as Chair of the Standards and Ethics Committee, and she is a frequent presenter at IECA, HECA, and NACAC conferences. 

Prior to being appointed Chair of the AICEP Commission, Katelyn served as AICEP Vice-Chair and also Chair of Outreach.  Katelyn is a graduate of Scripps College and received her Certificate in College Counseling from UCLA, Division of Continuing Education, and is a Certified Educational Planner. She is an active college affordability volunteer in her community and has also volunteered with Peer Forward and Habitat for Humanity Nepal.


Dr. Rachel B. Sobel, elected Vice-Chair of AICEP, is a licensed clinical social worker with special training in child and adolescent psychopathology and learning disorders.  She holds a doctorate in Counselor Education, a Certificate in College Counseling and is a Certified Educational Planner.  She has taught education classes at both the graduate and undergraduate level and has mentored countless students in both effective teaching strategies and college fit for students who learn differently.  Her more than 30 years of experience working with adolescents and their families as a psychotherapist, college counselor, and educator informs her approach to consulting with families and working with students with learning, emotional, behavioral, and social challenges.  She founded COLLEGE POSSIBILITIES to address the unique needs of these students as they plan for their future. 

Rachel is a highly sought-after speaker for professional and parent groups throughout the country.  She has served on the Board of Directors and as a Vice President of the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA) as well as Chair and Vice-Chair of the LD Committee. In addition to becoming the Vice-Chair of the American Institute of Certified Educational Planners (AICEP), she serves as Co-Chair of the Assessment Committee.  She is an active member of several college, therapeutic and LD associations. 

Steve Syverson, AICEP’s newly elected Secretary/Treasurer, graduated from Pomona College, and worked in Admissions at Pomona (1978-1983), culminating as the Director.  For 28 years until 2011 he served as the Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid at Lawrence University, substantially increasing the proportion of students of color and international students.  He has designed and programmed admissions and financial aid computer systems for Pomona, Claremont McKenna, and Lawrence. In 2016, after a short stint as a retiree, in southern California, he accepted an appointment as the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Management at the University of Washington-Bothell.

Active in professional organizations, Steve has variously served on the NACAC Board of Directors (2011-2014), as NACAC Vice President for Admission Practices (1988-91), and on the NACAC Commission on the Use of Standardized Testing in Undergraduate Admissions which issued its highly influential report in 2008. He also served as President of Wisconsin ACAC and on the ACT Executive Council of Wisconsin.

A frequent author and speaker on admissions and financial aid topics, Steve co-authored Defining Access, the largest national study of the impact of Test-Optional Admissions on students and colleges. He has also has been a long-time member of the advisory board of Cappex.com and re-joins the AICEP Commission after serving as it’s part-time Executive Director in 2015-16.

Welcome New Commissioners

Beginning at the annual meeting on June 7th, these new Commissioners will serve a 3-year term. Join us in welcoming:

Dr. Erin Avery, CEP, holds a BA from Boston College, Masters degrees from Oxford and Yale Universities, and a doctorate from Drew University. She founded Avery Educational Resources in 2003 where she and her team advise, inform, guide and encourage students and their families to identify Best Fit Decisions™️. She is a professional member of IECA and a member of The Enrollment Management Association and NACAC and NJACAC. She teaches online for UC Irvine’s Continuing Education Certificate Program in Educational Consulting and is the recipient of the UC Irvine Certificate Program Distinguished Alumni Award. Dr. Avery volunteers in Asbury Park, NJ at Sisters Academy, a middle school for disenfranchised girls and was awarded the prestigious Mercy Award in 2018. 


Sandy Furth, CEP, was a teacher for over twenty years, including thirteen at private international schools in Malaysia, Japan and England, before she founded World Student Support  (www.worldstudentsupport.com), an international educational consulting business helping families identify appropriate schools and programs that meet the specific needs of their student, be it internationally or in the United States. Sandy visits countless programs- universities and specialized programs; many in Europe and Asia.

Sandy has her Bachelor’s Degree from University of New Mexico, Master’s Degree from University of Utah, teaching certificate from University of Colorado, and a College Counseling Certificate from UCLA.  Sandy has worked on many volunteer forums, including the UT Tyler Justice League, board member of a twice -exceptional school in Colorado (including opening of a school in Boulder, Co). In her spare time, Sandy travels extensively, hikes in a variety of places, and spends time with family.


Jake Weld, M. Ed., is the Director of Admissions and Business Development for Mansfield Hall, a specialized college support program located in Burlington, VT, Madison, WI, and Eugene, OR.  Jake has over twenty years of experience in various educational organizations and has served as the executive director of a residential therapeutic school, the assistant headmaster of a specialized LD boarding school, and as the academic and program director of various schools and programs.  Additionally, Jake was a founding board member of the Therapeutic Consulting Association (TCA).  When not at work in the field of education, Jake can be found pursuing peaceful relaxation by working on his sailboat, thrashing about with a fly rod or a golf club, or traveling in pursuit of such opportunities - all of which are best enjoyed with friends and family.






People of Action: 380% Increase in Certified Educational Planner Applications

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

People of Action:  380% Increase in Certified Educational Planner Applications

For those of us who are college-focused independent educational consultants (IECs), we walk with families as they navigate the college admissions process, through all the fears, hopes, triumphs, and failures that are experienced along the way. Our students and families bring challenges to us and we are in the business of helping them find solutions. We are not people who say, “Oh well. That’s too bad.” in response to an obstacle faced by those we serve. We are the type of professionals (and people) who figure out what can be done and offer guidance. We are people of action!

When the admissions scandal broke, we could have focused on the negative. We could have hunkered down and laid low. We could have held our breath and waited for the storm to pass. But we didn’t. We hurt, we wondered, and we railed against the injustice of the system—but not for long. We are people of action! 

What could we do in response to the scandal? That was the big question. The answer was right in front of us. Educate consultants and the public about the Certified Educational Planner (CEP) designation and get to work. CEPs from across the country stepped up and wrote letters to the editor, appeared on television and radio shows, communicated with students and families, and personally reached out to IECs to talk about the solution to the admissions scandal that has been here all along. 

Our actions can’t always be quantified. We pour our hearts into our work and sense we’ve made a difference or rely on anecdotal data to confirm we’re getting the job done. The results of actions we took after the scandal are the same in many ways. However, the AICEP Commission is happy to report we can quantify the results of our actions in one very meaningful way. We have experienced a 380% increase in CEP applications in March and April of this year compared to those two months in 2018!  Yes. You read that right.Three-hundred-and-eighty-percent-increase. Well done! We are people of action!

If you or someone you know are interested in learning more about the CEP Assessment, please join Drs. Steven Antonoff and Rachel Sobel on June 5, 2019, at 1:00 pm EDT for a webinar designed to help you create a concrete plan to sit for the assessment with confidence. They will reveal the questions asked and give sample responses in the institutional knowledge section which will allow you to focus on the best ways to prepare.  

For more information and to register for this event, please visit https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_dyXakMrfRfixCWKsI-pO9A




AICEP Responds to Recent College Admissions Scandal

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

The news in the last 24 hours has been filled with reports and arrests of persons for abuses relating to college admissions.  Fake credentials, bribes, and unfair influence have no place in the college admission process. This abhorrent behavior on the part of all parties involved is completely antithetical to our profession.

As Chair of the American Institute of Certified Educational Planners (www.aicep.org), I want to assure families that the vast majority of the admissions world operates in a fair and consistent way. College admissions officers make decisions each day that are ethical, holistic and fair-minded. The truth is that the vast majority of high school college counselors and Independent Educational Consultants (private college counselors) operate within clear ethical standards and work to find colleges that are a good fit for their students. These professionals focus on finding colleges where the student will not only be accepted, but will thrive and succeed.

This is a good time to increase awareness among parents of the importance of seeking a professional who holds the designation of Certified Educational Planner (CEP)™ to ensure they are engaging a highly qualified and experienced educational consultant. To be awarded this credential, the individual must meet substantial educational and experiential requirements and then pass a rigorous board-certifying assessment. To retain the credential, CEPs must continue to conduct evaluative campus visits and participate in ongoing professional development to meet recertification requirements every five years.

Parents looking for help from professionals who spend time on college campuses and strive to assure a match between the student and the college should seek a Certified Educational Planner. You can find a CEP in your area via our directory at aicep.org.

The college admissions process is complex and multifaceted. Parents should seek a professional who gets to know a student’s strengths and true interests and who also has a solid fund of knowledge about colleges. The CEP designation gives families the assurance they need that they are working with a qualified professional who is committed to maintaining the highest quality of service to clients.


Judith S. Bass

Chair, AICEP


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