Author: Julia Surtshin, MSEd., CEP.
I’d submitted my application to AICEP and had been given the go-ahead to sit for the assessment. I was working my prep system and had scheduled the assessment. Finally, the day arrived. I was prepared: water and coffee, and a snack to keep myself fueled. I’d figured I’d be done in about three hours (which was the average even back in the day when the assessment was longer), and planned to go out to lunch and have a margarita with my husband to celebrate.
I opened my laptop, looked at the exam, and I was off. Sitting for the AICEP assessment is a serious undertaking. I’d had mentors who offered encouragement and told me what to expect.
But...what they didn’t tell me is about the surprise I’d get as I tapped away at my laptop’s keyboard, conveying what I knew about colleges and expounding on how I’d handle the imaginary student highlighted in the case study.
That surprise was how much I really did know about colleges, about students, about fit, and about handling an IEC practice. As hour three grew closer to four and I was nowhere near finishing, the proctor suggested that I’d better get some lunch. (My coffee had run out and the snacks were long gone.) After a quick bite, I returned to complete my answers, finally closing my laptop about three hours later. I’d been an IEC for close to 15 years, had visited countless campuses and worked with a wide range of students. I’d prepared for this and yet, I was not completely sure that I had what it takes to earn my CEP. I was genuinely taken by surprise by how much knowledge, skill, and yes...perspective, I could bring to bear on subjects that I dearly loved.
So, why am I telling you this? Because while mentors will make suggestions about how to prepare for the assessment, offer strategies for “test day,” and perhaps, even allude to the satisfaction you’ll feel when you’re done (in my experience it was called relief), no one truly prepared me for the energized satisfaction I felt as my fingers flew in an effort to communicate what I had to share.
Sometime later, the letter from AICEP arrived. I’d done it. I was a Certified Educational Planner!
As a longtime advocate for quality standards for our profession, I’d originally sought my CEP as a “put your money where your mouth is” effort. I wanted to do my part to bolster the professionalism of our field. In the end, the most significant benefit I got was the opportunity to pull together and take stock of my own professional accomplishments and acumen and receive recognition of that from my peers.