How to Become a Certified Educational Planner

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A certified educational planner is an experienced teacher or counselor who helps high school students navigate the college admissions process. The goal is to match students with a degree program at the institution of the student's choice. To do this, a certified education planner steers students through resume creation, applications and deadlines. An educational planner is certified by the American Institute of Certified Educational Planners, or AICEP, the main credentialing agency.

  • Enroll in a professional organization, such as the Higher Education Consultants Association, the Independent Educational Consultant Association or the National Association for Admission Counseling. Membership in one of these organizations enables you to find training and a mentor.

  • Get the prequalification standards at the AICEP website (see tips and resources below). People qualify with a master's degree in a field related to education and professional references, plus 4 years of counseling experience.

  • Pass the certified educational planner exam. The test is in an essay format and takes an average of 3 hours to complete. The first segment covers institutional knowledge. It asks you for a detailed discussion about three of the 25 colleges that you have visited. The second segment covers professional knowledge. You read a case study then write a plan of action. The plan must demonstrate the ability to match a student with a college based on his special needs.

  • Make the college circuit in order to make recommendations to clients. Some certified educational planners stay on campuses for over week. Other consultants make it a goal to visit a certain number of campuses each month. The point is to meet admissions counselors. Gather catalogs and degree program information. Observe the campus layout and student activities.

  • Design a package of services and fee structure. A college planner delivers services in two stages. The first stage includes an initial consult and an assessment of the student's performance. The second stage includes college visits, scholarship identification and networking with admissions staff on the student's behalf. The average certified college educational planner charges a flat fee, but a third of all planners charge an hourly fee, according to Entrepreneur magazine.

  • Create a business plan to establish goals, ensure feasibility and obtain funding. Writing a plan takes time, but you can start by summarizing the services offered. Identify the target market and the competition. Describe potential revenue streams to potential investors.

  • Promote educational planning services. Create marketing materials, such as business cards, fliers and brochures. Conduct workshops as another method of advertising. Educate parents about what a certified educational planner does.

Tips & Warnings

  • A certified educational planner may not turn a profit the first year and may even lose money due to travel expenses. Set aside enough money to cover living expenses for 6 months before starting out. Expect to spend 2 to 5 percent of projected gross sales on advertising. A certified educational planner is expected to keep current, earn continuing education credits and recertify every 5 years.
  • Do not confuse the designation certified educational planner with a certified college planning specialist. A certified college planner is an experienced financial planner who helps negotiate larger awards on the student's behalf. A certified financial aid planner is certified by the National Institute of Certified College Planners, although most certified educational planners partner with college planning specialists to provide a full scale of services to students.

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