What are the Benefits of Working for an Educational Consulting Firm
Teaching is far from the only option for those pursuing a career in education. Many teachers use their classroom experience and advanced education to land jobs working for educational consulting companies.
What is an educational consultant?
For educational institutions
Educational consulting companies help colleges, universities, corporations and for-profit educational service providers, often collaborating with a provost or vice president. Educational consultants advise on student and faculty retention, recruiting, alumni relations, fundraising and other areas that need improvement.
Consultants also help institutions improve their reputation among students, staff and alumni. Consultants interview students, professors and staff and write a report recommending the best paths for achieving the institution’s goals.
Schools may hire educational consulting companies to improve their competitive edge or comply with an accrediting board’s guidelines. The relationship between a school and a consultant often lasts around six months, at which time the school decides whether to follow through on the recommendations.
Consulting for students
Educational consultants also work directly with students and their families, helping the student choose a college and devise the best strategy to gain acceptance into that school.
Some parents hire an educational consultant for their children early in their high school career to help them choose the classes and activities that will move them toward their goals. Consultants may also help with selecting a college, gathering application materials and developing a schedule to write essays. And they can help students choose a major and decide how that might translate into a career.
What does it take?
Before education consultants can begin to determine a school’s effectiveness or a student’s potential, they must already have a a good education themselves. Many of the best consultants have a doctorate in education, though others can succeed with a combination of a master’s degree and work experience. More requirements for success while working for an educational consulting company:
- People skills: Consultants must be able to develop a good rapport with all the people they meet, from teens and parents to professors and college deans.
- Management: Strong organization and planning skills help consultants guide their clients toward a course and show them how to stick to it.
- Leadership: Consultants must be able to motivate and inspire their clients to follow recommendations.
- Communication: Being able to write clearly and persuasively and to make strong in-person presentations will help consultants build trust and credibility.
- Judgment. Consultants must know when to let go. Their job is to guide a student or school toward their goals, not to control it the process of making that happen.
The ups and downs of working for educational consulting companies
There is a lot of potential job satisfaction when working for an educational consulting firm. Each student or school is a fresh experience, and many consultants enjoy always having a new challenges.
By working with a consulting company and joining professional associations (such as the Higher Education Consultants Association, or HECA), you have a supportive network to help you work with different clients and consider the possibilities for your own career path.
The downside of educational consultant work is that no matter how good you are, clients may not follow through on your recommendations. You may have to restructure a plan so that it’s better suited to the limitations of your clientele.
Of course, when things go right, you earn the satisfaction of knowing you’ve helped students and institutions make the improvements that will carry them to their goals.