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About Independent College Counselors, and About Me

Updated: May 5

Why should you consider hiring an independent educational consultant?

If you have a college-bound teen, most likely the process of applying to college felt a little simpler when you applied. Nowadays, friends, neighbors, the media, and the internet have you bracing for an unfamiliar, murky, and nerve-wracking experience. Your school counselor is an important partner, and, they may not have the time or resources to advise extensively on the college search.

IECs are specialists in colleges and college admission, essentially personal college counselors, who understand the application process that your teen will navigate. Having an expert guide at your side can help you move more efficiently through the stages of finding and assessing potential good college fits, as well as in preparing applications— while filtering the noise about college admission.

How should you approach hiring an independent educational consultant?

  • Look for affiliation with a national professional organization with ethical standards: National Association of College Admission Counseling (NACAC), regional NACAC affiliates, IECA, or HECA.

  • Independent educational consulting is an unregulated industry. More than any particular credential, look for years of experience, a hands-on practical background, and a commitment to ethics, integrity and highlighting the authentic student voice.

  • There may be a number of counselors who can provide effective fundamental guidance for you. A sense of comfort and fit with your family and your set of values is vital.

  • In general, there are some essential qualities and standards you should look for when considering an IEC. The Independent Educational Consultants Association provides a list of questions to ask, which is a good start.

  • Ask questions that align with your values, and engage your student in finding the right IEC!

Why work with MSquared College Counseling and Mark Moody

My background is the differentiator. After nearly 20 years as a Director of College Counseling at well-known independent college prep schools around the US and overseas, and 5 years as an admission officer, I draw on a wealth of experience. I have individually counseled 800 students on their path to college, and I’ve visited well over 200 college and university campuses around the world. I have supported annual cohorts of applicants to a wide range of colleges, with a front-row seat to the details of their changing admission processes.

I am familiar with high schools, curricula, and colleges in cities around the world, and have lived and worked in Houston, Seattle, Denver, the Bay Area, Shanghai, and Upstate New York.

What Sets Me Apart As a Counselor

My Student-Centered Philosophy

  • All my work is grounded in the belief that the college application journey should be a joyful rite of passage affirming identity and values. With the right guidance, students can become surer of themselves and their strengths, less susceptible to admission overwhelm, and more compelling applicants as a result of authentic choices and self-knowledge.

  • By centering students in all conversations, I help identify their guiding values, authentic motivation, and curiosity. We build each phase on the foundation of the previous one, deepening and amplifying engagement, while positioning for an empowered, satisfying process of finding, applying to, and choosing colleges.

  • This progression allows for an impactful expression of students’ identity and sense of fit with their target colleges when it comes time to work on applications. I provide structure, feedback, practical guidance, data, and keep the guideposts of evidence and student values in view.

  • With this philosophy, these steps, and an intentionally limited number of student clients, I develop a completely customized plan for each individual student.

My School Based Experience

  • I have experienced just about every kind of admission scenario, student interest, and special circumstance. I’ve counseled dancers, engineers, recruited athletes, students who learn differently, artists, future physicians, writers, economists, musicians, coders, theater technicians and more.

  • Having lived 25+ admission cycles, my perspective can help minimize stress.

  • Working in schools has given me access to years of training in adolescent wellness and support, coaching rooted in neuroscience and mindfulness, and a deep understanding of the rhythms of schools and the nuances of high school curricula, from AP to IB and beyond. (I think it's also worth mentioning that this experience means I'm also a trustworthy and safe adult, accepting, trained in counseling adolescents, and extensively vetted and background checked!)

  • Helping students make the most of what their school has to offer them and build relationships with potential mentors/supporters is an important role I can play, especially as an advisor in grades 9-11.

  • I offer the kind of personalized insight and support that is a selling point for selective independent schools at a fraction of the cost of tuition at those places.

  • Read what former students and admissions colleagues say.

My Recognized Professional Voice

  • Over the course of my career, I’ve gotten to know many of the decision-makers in higher education. Collaboration for the greater good is one of my guiding values.

  • It is humbling, gratifying, and extraordinarily meaningful to me that my client referrals come primarily through veteran admission and counseling professionals who trust my expertise and student-centered counseling philosophy.

  • I have always used my position of privilege to support students and counselors with limited resources and access, and to make college admission in the US more respectful of adolescent wellness.

  • I have been and remain active in the national admission conversation. I attend national and regional admission conferences annually and have served many professional organizations as a volunteer or board member. I've even helped launch a few groups, including a network and annual gathering of leaders in admission and counseling that has been going strong for over 15 years, the Association for College Counselors in Independent Schools, and the Solstice Network of IEC's with significant practical experience in schools and admission offices.

  • From this ongoing professional presence, I have built and maintain an incredibly broad and diverse network of admission counseling professionals that keep me up-to-date on trends and the nuances of the admission landscape to best inform and advise my clients.

If my background and philosophy sound compelling to your family, and you would like to bring clarity and purpose into your child’s college admissions process, let’s talk.

One more thing: The Value Proposition

I aim for transparency and rationality in my pricing.

 You can find my current college admission support rates here; please contact me for High School Admission, Transfer Admission, or other targeted support options.

M2 Comprehensive Packages Plus Resources
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The foundation of my practice lies in the expertise, instincts, and relationships I acquired over 20 years in independent high schools, after 5 years in college admission, maintained through continual daily conversation with admission and counseling professionals. I am proud and grateful to have gained a reputation as a leading national and international voice on college counseling and student well-being. My objective is to provide my clients with hyper-personalized, independent-school-style academic advising and college counseling.

I have surveyed dozens of (ethical) independent practitioners to understand fair pricing. The average hourly rate for counselors with at least 15 years of meaningful, practical experience before embarking on independent practice is over $300. At the high and low extremes of pricing, in-depth experience is often limited.

For reference, these charts reflect a 2024 national survey of independent educational consultants conducted by College Planner Pro, the online platform most utilized by practitioners and their clients. Keep in mind that the majority of respondents do not have admission or school experience, nor training to work appropriately and supportively with adolescents. On average, my comprehensive package clients will make use of hours above and beyond the mean. My 25+ years of experience make this time impactful.

My pricing is set based on the very particular niche I occupy in the educational consulting industry. A decision to work with me comes with the certainty that:

  • I work with a maximum of 20 students in a graduating class to provide the most personalized support and access. The number of hours used in our work varies by student, but typically equals 40-60 hours over grades 11-12.

  • My independent educational consulting work is my full-time and only job.

  • I am engaged in daily conversation with other admission and counseling professionals. I’ve retained my voice of leadership in the college admission profession in my transition to the unregulated world of independent consulting, thanks to years of experience and relationship building.

  • I invest in my ongoing professional relevancy and in support for my clients.  I maintain multiple professional affiliations that promote best practice. I attend (and often present at) multiple professional conferences a year, travel to keep my knowledge of colleges updated, and I incorporate valuable online resources to my clients in my pricing.

As a kind of wilderness guide for the journey to college, I can help make that hike efficient and enjoyable. Along the way, I can help you avoid pitfalls and time-wasting detours while also incorporating some of the most scenic vistas and hidden surprises along a direct route to the summit. If the cost of college is a concern, I can help your student find the best intersection of tuition cost and fit through merit and/ or need-based awards at a strategically chosen list of colleges.

My comprehensive support packages for the college search and application advising include all of these resources and support, with access to my Zoom calendar Sunday evenings through Thursdays, extended hours during application season, and meeting hours available for the convenience of clients in multiple time zones.

I believe that my all-in rates for the core grade 11-12 comprehensive support package, for earlier advising in high school, and for high school admission are a great value, in the middle of the pricing scale relative to what you'll likely find. Few counselors at any price point have as much experience in the finer points of college admission as I have had the opportunity to build.

If my rate is a limitation, and we might be a good fit to work together, please reach out to discuss with me!

Updated February 2024

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