WHAT IS AN IEC?
A qualified Independent Educational Consultant works only for your family. She provides expert and unbiased assistance in what can be an overwhelming and confusing process. Finding the right college match for the student is the primary objective. An independent consultant has the time to explore a variety of options in detail with the student and his or her family. Ideally, this customized process takes place over several years. A qualified educational consultant has first- hand knowledge of a variety of colleges and universities as well as access to resources through professional colleagues and organizations. A consultant does not get you admitted – she helps you demonstrate why you deserve to be admitted.
Mrs. Gatzionis and Mrs. Contomichalos believe that the college admissions process is not only about being accepted to a particular school – it is about thriving at a college that is the right fit for the particular student. To that end, each college counselor brings firsthand knowledge about individual schools gained through visiting the schools as well as playing active roles in a dynamic professional international network of colleagues. As members of the following professional organizations dedicated to college admissions counseling, both counselors stay current on trends in the field. Each is a member of and attends conferences and webinars hosted by NACAC (National Association for College Admission Counseling), IECA, (Independent Educational Consultants Association), International ACAC (International Association for College Admission Counseling), UCAS (University and College Admissions Service) and HECA (Higher Education Consultants Association). Membership in these professional organizations requires specific credentials and a strong commitment to standard ethical practices.
We believe that it is important that the student has ownership of the application process, and we gently guide them with support and motivation throughout this transitional cycle. As college admissions counselors, we provide information to help high school students make informed decisions regarding post-secondary education possibilities. We help students discover the wide range of educational choices available and we assist them in finding the best fit possible for their college experience. We make it possible for the student to relax and truly enjoy the process of self-discovery. In addition, as college “coaches”, we help students to stay organized and motivated and we make sure they meet their deadlines throughout the process, which often helps to keep the parent-student relationship healthy. Independent Educational Consultants serve as an important resource for support and attention during this exciting and challenging time.
Acknowledged experts in the field, Mrs. Gatzionis and Mrs. Contomichalos instruct two University of California – Irvine, Division of Continuing Education courses. Both “American College Consulting for the International Student” and “International College Consulting for the American Student” are designed to broaden the knowledge base of high school counselors and independent educational consultants.
Sarah Contomichalos completed UCLA Extension’s Program in College Counseling with distinction and opened Educational Advisory Services, LLC, an educational consulting firm based in Ellsworth, Maine, in 2010. Until recently, Mrs.Contomichalos co-chaired the European Regional Committee of IECA. She works with students in American, British, Greek and IB Diploma high schools from California to the Arabian Gulf. After spending 13 years in Athens, she divides her time between Athens, Greece and New York City.
Laura O’Brien Gatzionis, Certified Educational Planner, has lived abroad for the past 20 years, and established Educational Advisory Services in Athens, Greece in 2010. She specializes in working with global nomads, and international students who are interested in attending English-taught degrees at a university outside of their home country. Mrs. Gatzionis has an M.Ed. in International Counseling with a focus on incorporating multicultural dimensions to meet the needs of diverse clients, and is an active member of both the IECA Global Consulting Committee and of International ACAC as well as a professional member of other associations.
Colleagues since 1988, Mrs. Gatzionis and Mrs. Contomichalos collaborate extensively although each has her own company and particular interests within the field of education. Along with college counseling, Mrs. Contomichalos enjoys working with Greek student-athletes and younger students interested in participating in summer programs in the U.S. In addition to guiding students beginning from the third year of Gymnasium (or Year 10 in the British System), Mrs. Gatzionis specializes in working with TCKs (Third Culture Kids) and the issues surrounding their transition to university in the U.S. Mrs. Gatzionis also assists students with special issues–such as gifted and talented students or students with learning disabilities–to find the right college fit.
Both Mrs. Gatzionis and Mrs. Contomichalos believe in working with students from an early age and often begin with students from the 3rd year of junior high school (3rd Gymnasium), although most of our clients begin to focus on the process in the first year of IB (2nd Lykiou).