Here at Noodle, we've recently begun featuring guidance and educational professionals on our site.
In doing so, we learned that there are different ways of working in the field of educational guidance and consulting and want to give our readers the lowdown on counseling and consultation when it comes to your education.
Guidance Counselors (a.k.a school counselors)
They key word here is "counselor." Guidance counselors usually work in elementary, middle and high schools. They usually have a Master's degree in school counseling and are employed by a school to help students in a number of different ways. They're available to help students transition between schools, achieve academic success, or deal with personal issues such as bullying. In high school, counselors are often available to help students with the college application process. Because school counselors are employed by the school or school district, their services are free for all students.
Educational Consultants (a.k.a private counselors)
Educational consultants commonly hold a Masters degree and usually have counseling experience. The difference is that consultants are hired by an individual or family to help with a specific problem or project such as a learning disability or applying to schools. They can also provide assistance with social or community issues, depending on the specialty of the individual counselor. Many private educational consultants/counselors are members of professional organizations such as the Independent Education Consultants Association (IECA) or the Higher Education Consultants Association (HECA). These associations make sure that their members have a certain amount of education and experience and provide ethical and professional standards that all members must abide by.
The short answer is that both school counselors and educational consultants perform very similar roles for students and families. Because educational consultants work one on one with students and families who may not be familiar with professional standards, it's always a good idea to make sure a counselor or consultant is a member of the IECA or HECA before hiring them to guarantee that they'll have the proper education and experience.
Check out: What is the IECA?