This introductory professional certificate course provides new and prospective independent educational consultants (IECs) with a foundational understanding of their role in the college search and application processes, tips and strategies to build and maintain a successful practice, and much more.

The basics:

  • Intended audience: New and prospective independent educational consultants (IECs)
  • Cost: $175 – $325
    • Cost is dependent on NACAC membership status.
  • Estimated completion time: 9 hours
    • Participants have six months to access and complete the course.
  • Upon completion: A completion certificate and a digital badge.

Course description: 

In this course, participants will learn the basics of independent educational consulting and gain a national, regional, and international perspective in a convenient, self-paced, online format. With this foundational course, participants will have the tools they need to excel in their roles and serve the students and families they work with well.

Course topics:

  • The Role and Responsibility of the Independent Educational Consultant (IEC)
  • Creating an IEC Practice
  • Maintaining a Successful IEC Practice
  • The Role and Responsibility of the School Counselor
  • Academic Advising & Postsecondary Planning
  • Supporting Underserved & Disadvantaged Students
  • Educating Students and Families on the Postsecondary Search Process
  • College Applications Made Easy
  • Financing a Postsecondary Education
  • Building Professional Relationships


  • $175 for NACAC members*
  • $325 for associate/nonmembers 

A 20 percent discount is available for offices of four or more participants. If your office would qualify for this discount, contact customer service for a promo code prior to registration. 

*Unsure if you are a NACAC member? You may be eligible through your school or organization’s membership. Contact customer service for more information.


Who should take this course?

Anyone looking to transition to the IEC profession is welcome to register for this course. Current school counselors, admission officers, or those in other professions interested in working as an IEC will be introduced to the foundational concepts all IECs should know.

How long will it take me to complete this course?

This on-demand course will take approximately nine hours to complete.

What is unique about this course?

This course is foundational and can serve as a step toward more advanced professional development opportunities. This is NACAC’s first certificate course focused on introducing the core concepts of IEC work, and it was developed in response to an identified need to create an entry point to the profession for those with little to no IEC experience.


For questions about this course, please email


Kristina Dooley, CEP
Certified Educational Planner
Estrela Consulting (OH)

Kristina L. Dooley is a certified educational planner (CEP) and founder of Estrela Consulting, an Ohio-based multi-consultant college planning firm. Prior to launching Estrela in 2008, Kristina served as the assistant director of admission at Hiram College and as the director of admission and marketing at Andrews Osborne Academy. A first-generation college student, Kristina holds a B.A. from Hiram College and an M.A. from Kent State University. Kristina is a past president of the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA), and holds membership in AICEP, NACAC, the Ohio ACAC and International ACAC. In addition to her work with students, Kristina is an instructor for UC Irvine teaching College Consulting Resources and serves as a faculty member of the IECA Summer Training Institute for aspiring educational consultants. She has served on the Counselor Advisory Boards at Lehigh University, Lynn University, Washington and Jefferson College, West Virginia University, Kalamazoo College, Kent State University, and Belmont University. Kristina lives in Ohio with her husband and their 13-year-old triplets.

Marie Morris
Independent Educational Consultant
Beyond 18 College Consulting (OR)

Marie Morris, founder of Beyond 18 College Consulting, is an independent education consultant in Portland, Oregon. In addition to consulting for over 14 years, she has been an ASPIRE mentor at Beaverton High School since 2007, mentoring first generation and high financial need students. She completed the UCLA College Counseling Certificate with distinction in 2013. Marie served on the NACAC Committee to Reimagine the Affiliates, served as the IEC SIG leader, and was a panelist for the two-day NACAC forum, What’s Next: Admission and advising after the SCOTUS ruling. At the 2023 National College Fair in Portland, Marie participated in the successful pilot program encouraging students to register to vote, attending both days at the fair. Marie is an active member of the Higher Education Consultants Association (HECA). She served as the regional coordinator chair, connecting college admission reps with independent consultants, and as an elected member on the HECA board since 2019. Currently, she serves as HECA’s immediate past president. She initiated HECA’s Government Relations committee after attending Advocacy Days with NACAC, encouraging HECA members to become more involved in their local ACACs.


Cheri Barad
Independent Educational Consultant
Cheri Barad Education Consulting (KS)

Chris Bell, CEP
Chief Advisor
Bell College Consulting (CO)

Dan Bisig
Independent Educational Consultant
College and Beyond (KY)

Joan Casey
Independent Educational Consultant
Educational Advocates College Consulting Corp (MA)

Stacey Cunitz, CEP
Certified Educational Planner
Blue Moon Educational Consulting (PA)

Emily Dobson, CEP
The Caribbean and Latin America Network (Brazil)

Eva Gelman
Independent Educational Consultant
College Quest (PA)

Brenda Gerhardt
Independent Educational Consultant
Gerhardt Educational Endeavors (OH)

Shereem Herndon-Brown
Chief Education Officer
Strategic Admissions Advice (MD)

Joan Koven, CEP
Independent Educational Consultant
Academic Access (PA)

Ellen Kuppersmith
Independent Educational Consultant
College Kupp (CA)

Jeff Levy, CEP
Independent Educational Consultant
Big J Educational Consulting (CA)

Suzanne Lewis
Independent Educational Consultant
Meridian Educational Consulting (AZ)

Kazue McGregor, M.M.
Certified Educational Planner
Exploring College Choices LLC (CA)

Steven Mercer
Independent Educational Consultant
Mercer Educational Consulting (CA)

Claire Nold-Glaser
Independent Educational Consultant
College Planning Help (WA)

Teo Salgado
Principal Consultant
VerveSmith Independent Educational Consultants (ON, Canada)

Hannah Serota, CEP
Independent Educational Consultant
Creative College Connections (VA)

Jason Vallozzi
Campus to Career Crossroads (PA)

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