• 09/26/2022 8:47 AM | Anonymous

    By Sany Furth, CEP

    I received a query from a family the other day that said this: I am looking for a consultant who has experience with international university placement. I used someone who said they had experience, but did not. My child is at an international location that is not a fit. While I don’t know if this family used a consultant who is part of an organization like NACAC, IECA or HECA or even a Certified Educational Planner (CEP), what I do know is that having my CEP distinguishes me in a variety of ways. 

    As the number of domestic and international educational consultants are on the rise, it is paramount  as international IECs to distinguish ourselves from agents as well as those who have never worked with an international student, traveled abroad and viewed schools or post secondary institutions or have an understanding of cultural differences. 

    We know the difference between agents and an IEC, and we want our clientele to clearly understand these differences as well. We work for the family, not  a specific school. We know we  are not there to fill seats, we are there for the family to provide wise counsel and assist families in making the best possible decisions for their students. We know that a Certified Educational Planner is the highest mark in our profession and is a clear demonstration of unique expertise in our field of consulting. We continue our knowledge base of whatever our specialty: university, school, therapeutic based consulting, summer, test prep to name just a few. Agents have a narrow view of all of this. This is why the CEP designation is important to us as international consultants. 

    Those who work with an international clientele also have keen knowledge of cultural needs as well as the understanding of transition from one culture to another;  what it takes to move from one country to another. Our work does not stop just at placement. This is another aspect differentiating us from agents. 

    Because we recertify every five years, our learning is continuous through campus visits, webinars, visits with admissions directors. This sets us apart from not only agents, but others out there without this designation. We CEPs are informed, we guide and advise. We keep up with what is new in the field, and we know in the last several years, things have moved quickly and changed on a dime. 

    Holding the Certified Educational Planner is the highest level of professional standards in the  field of educational consulting.  Do not hesitate to reach out to us, we will not let you go down this path alone. We will coach you, we will assist you through the application process, tutor you through the exam process. We want you to succeed and gain this esteemed designation.

  • 01/28/2022 8:35 AM | Erika Smith

    On Jan 21st, 2022, the Department of Homeland    Security (DHS) announced that 22 new fields of study   had been added to the STEM Optional Practical   Training (OPT) program to enhance the contributions   of nonimmigrant students studying in the fields of   science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), and support the growth of the U.S. economy and innovation. These 22 new fields of study include Forestry, Climate Science, Geobiology, Data Science, Business Analytics, Financial Analytics, Social Sciences, Research Methodology and Quantitative Methods and list of other fields (please refer to the link below to review the details).

    This new policy has significant impact for international students in their consideration of their career choice post-graduation. Under traditional OPT, foreign students who graduate from American universities can stay and work in the U.S. for one year after graduation. During this one year OPT period, they can receive sponsorship from their employers to participate in the annual lottery for a slot in the 85,000 H-1B work visas. Due to the high uncertainty associated with this lottery, many employers purposely shun away from international graduates. For these graduates of designated STEM fields, they have three years vs. one year to participate in the lottery and thus get much higher chance to receive a work visa.

    With this expanded STEM OPT program, the international students and new graduates from these 22 fields have gained access to three years OPT vs. one year and their chances to receive work visa through lottery have improved tremendously. For them, the impact of this extended STEM designated degree list is material on their career outlook in the U.S. In turn, this new policy development will also influence the choice of major for future international students.

    Please refer to the original article using link https://www.dhs.gov/news/2022/01/21/dhs-expands-opportunities-us-stem-professionals

    For the list of newly added fields of study, please refer to the link https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2022/01/21/2022-01188/update-to-the-department-of-homeland-security-stem-designated-degree-program-list

  • 11/22/2021 1:46 PM | Erika Smith

    Recertification Reflections by Erika Smith, CEP, AICEP Commissioner

    It is hard to believe I am already up for recertification for the first time.  December 1 to be exact.  Instead of writing this, I probably should be busy making copies and getting everything submitted! 

    Becoming certified is something I, like so many of you, worked towards for years.  I remember having the application printed out on my desk.  I would peek at it periodically—especially when I was having one of “those” days.  It was my guide on my professional journey toward a career that I could be proud of.  A career built on professionalism, education, ethics, and experience.  A career that included becoming a Certified Educational Planner (CEP)—the highest recognition in the field of independent educational consulting.

    To be honest, I’ve dreaded the recertification process.  As the years have passed, my work has become more demanding and my life more complicated.  The kids I work with and the kids I am trying to raise can take up a lot of time and energy!  Throw in murder hornets, a global pandemic, and civil unrest and it has been a little overwhelming for all of us.  Now that I am in the midst of the process, I am realizing something very valuable and unexpected that I want to share.

    As I look back on what I have (and have not) done over the past several years, I am finding myself re-energized and re-focused.  I thought I might feel bad about all the things I haven’t done, but that hasn’t happened.  I feel good about what I’ve done and looking forward to all those things I can still do—to serve my students, promote the CEP, and make a difference.  As I am looking back, I am moving forward.

    I encourage other CEPs (and those considering earning the designation) to focus less on what hasn’t been done yet and what can be done next.  We give our students a plan to reach their goals.  We also have a plan that can be realized and developed through the certification and recertification process.  Like so many other things in life—the CEP is more about the journey than the destination. 

    If you have questions about earning your CEP or the recertification process, reach out and talk to someone.  The AICEP Commission is made up of a group of professionals who like (almost) nothing better than to encourage other professionals to pursue and make the most of the CEP designation.  You can contact us by visiting www.aicep.org

  • 09/15/2021 10:04 AM | Katelyn Klapper (Administrator)

    This August, at the first Commission meeting of the 2020 -21 year, AICEP welcomed two newly elected commissioners. Certified Educational Planners, Alice Lissarrague and Qing (Shirley) Xian, each join the Commission for a three-year term and are currently both serving on the AICEP Outreach Committee.  The executive leadership team was also elected in June to continue for an additional year including:  Chair, Katelyn Klapper, CEP; Vice-chair, Rachel Sobel, Ph.D, CEP; Secretary Pamela Tedeschi, CEP; and Treasurer, Steven Syverson.

    In June 2021, Commissioner Lora Block, CEP, rotated off  the AICEP Commission after serving six years. The Commission is grateful for Lora's service and commitment to the professional standards of the CEP designation.

    Alice Lissarrague, M. Ed. & CEP, has nearly 20 years of experience as both an ESL and French teacher and college counselor, and is the founder of Lissarrague College Guidance, LLC. Alice taught at the Fashion Institute of Technology, Konan Women's University in Japan, Burlington High School and the Lake Champlain Waldorf School (LCWS). Alice is the college counselor at LCWS and has been an independent educational consultant since 2011. Prior to becoming a consultant, she served as the Smith College Alumnae Admissions Coordinator for Vermont. Alice regularly offers college guidance presentations to her local community and volunteers as a peer mentor to other college consultants.  

    Qing (Shirley) Xian, M.B.A. & CEP,  grew up in an educator family on a university campus in China. She is a professional member of Independent Educational Consultant Association (IECA), with a UCLA Certificate of College Counselling, earned with distinction. Shirley holds a strong belief in the value of in-person campus visit and has visited more than 100 college campuses from 2014 to 2019. In August 2018, Shirley published a book < “Interview” American College Campuses “美国大学> in Chinese by Social Sciences Academic Press (China). Prior to becoming an IEC, Shirley graduated from Georgetown University MBA in 2001 and developed in-depth industry expertise in Financial Services and Technology/Manufacturing and subject matter expertise in business analytics, data science, finance, and marketing.


    The American Institute of Certified Educational Planners (AICEP) awards the CEP credential to professionals, working independently or in schools, who have achieved the highest level of competence in educational planning. Only the best and most experienced counselors qualify to become CEPs.  A key requirement of all Certified Educational Planners is that they adhere to a strict code of ethical practices. In this way, the CEP designation signifies that the consultant maintains the highest standards of professional service and conduct.

    AICEP is taking the lead in providing the public with an assessed assurance of knowledgeable and professional educational planning. We hope that you will join this elite, and growing, group of educators, and help us further our mission of cultivating excellence in our field.

  • 05/10/2021 2:48 PM | Katelyn Klapper (Administrator)

    AICEP's Certification Confirms a Committment to Professional Standards

    We are seeing a continuing shifting of the tides toward the importance of credentialing for educational consultants. Now is the time to earn the CEP certification or renew your certification. 

    In much the same way that the ‘Varsity Blues’ college admissions scandal resulted in updated legislation in the State of California, there is also a groundswell of attention in a variety of states (including Utah, North Carolina, and Oregon) to further regulate the field of therapeutic placements. The State of Oregon is currently considering legislation which will have direct consequences on how referring professionals work with therapeutic placements in the state.

    SB 749, currently working its way through the OR Legislature, 

    “Requires residential care referral agent to be registered with Department of Human Services. Imposes certain requirements on residential care referral agents. Makes residential care referral agent mandatory reporter of child abuse. [Makes violation of certain provisions unfair trade practice.] Declares emergency, effective on passage.”

    In its current form, this bill proposes requirements for any referring professional involved in therapeutic placements who a) lives in Oregon b) has clients who reside in Oregon and/or c) refers a client to a therapeutic program in Oregon to not only pay a $750 license and registration fee to the State of Oregon (every two years), but must also comply with a comprehensive list of requirements, disclosures, and contractual obligations. While cost considerations of this bill could possibly slow its progress, the increased focus on professionals of all specialties within educational planning is only growing. 

    To our knowledge, the leadership of IECATCANATSAPNACAC, and HECA, as well as program representation from COPA, (all of which are membership organizations), are aware of this proposed legislation, and are in various stages of institutional responses, and we applaud and support their efforts on behalf of their membership.  

    AICEP is not a membership organization, but AICEP does provide a pathway for referring professionals to obtain, and maintain, the highest level of professional certification available in our field. As more attention is paid to educational and therapeutic consulting, in both traditional and non-traditional settings, we encourage all referring professionals to further their own commitment to ongoing education, professional development, and upholding the highest ethical standards by becoming or renewing your status as a Certified Educational Planner. AICEP welcomes all Referring Professionals, including members of IECAHECATCA, as well as those who remain unaffiliated, to reach out and learn more about formal certification.

  • 04/02/2021 6:33 AM | Erika Smith

    A Reflection on Recertification, by Dr. Erin Avery, CEP. AICEP Commissioner

    My, how time flies. It has been another five years since I recertified. Like measuring my life by the ages of my growing children, sometimes I stop and think, “How can five years possibly fly by so quickly?” As my oldest child prepares to leave home in September, I pause to reflect on my two decades as an educational consultant and my decade as a Certified Educational Planner. 

    A client, contemplating the shifting sands of higher education, remarked last week, “We need you now more than ever, Dr. Avery.” To that, I say that I need AICEP more than ever. Not only do I make a point to share with each and every prospective client that I am among a group of professionals in my field that supremely values continuing education, so much so that I would commit to 75 campus visits to fulfil my recertification requirements. I am also proud to share that I passed an exhaustive assessment that validated my college and boarding school knowledge by a committee of my peers.

    To say that being a CEP is “the gold standard of educational consultants” is no exaggeration. If one peruses the paperwork that recertification entails, one will note the many ways that we can document our professional development. For me, teaching for the past eight years in the UC Irvine Certificate in Educational Consulting program counts toward my recertification as well as having published my first book this year. I also have completed much community service with a local girls’ middle school which also has a place in the documentation. In addition to teaching, publishing articles and community service, leadership of all kinds can be used toward fulfilling recertification goals. So there are many ways to demonstrate our growth and professional mastery in our field.

    Please consider joining us in our efforts to set the highest standard for the field through our commitment to continued professional development and certification. Your clients will attest that your consulting is worth its weight in gold.


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