Today we’d like to introduce you to Cindy Allerman.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Cindy. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
When we moved from Oregon to Texas 10 years ago, I found myself at a crossroads with my career. I had been teaching for 18 years at the elementary and middle school levels and while I loved working with students, I was ready to consider a change. I began exploring different options, went back to college to complete my master’s degree and volunteered at Fort Bend Literacy Center teaching math to adult learners working on their GED. I read an article about educational consulting from the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA) and knew this was something I wanted to pursue.
Being an Independent Educational Consultant (IEC) checked all of my boxes. I could still make a difference as I worked with high school students, but I would be an entrepreneur and a business owner. I would have the flexibility to create my own schedule, determine how many clients I would work with, and develop my own processes and curriculum.
I enrolled in the Educational Consulting Certificate program at UC Irvine, joined IECA and attended their Summer Training Institute in 2012. Even though this is an unregulated field and anyone can call themselves a college consultant, it was and is important to me to fulfill ethical goals and maintain professional standards before working with students. After completing these programs, I accepted my first client and have never looked back!
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
The biggest challenge for me was learning to have a business mindset when my background is in education. While I still consider myself an educator, I am also a small business owner and entrepreneur. This took a bit of getting used to and is something I still work on today. I needed to develop my business skills in marketing, accounting, sales, etc. That process has been challenging and exciting. One piece of advice to women is not to undervalue yourself and your services. Push outside of your comfort zone and believe in yourself. We also need to be patient with ourselves as we grow and learn and work through challenges along the way.
I learned how to identify my ideal clients and to walk away from those who had unreasonable demands. The Varsity Blues college admissions scandal brought to light some of the unsavory actors in this field and I work hard to distance myself from them and focus on clients who believe that a successful outcome to our working together is finding a good-fit college rather than simply getting into a “brand-name” college.
I also travel to visit college campuses. At first, I was a bit apprehensive about the thought of all of the travel, but now, I really enjoy traveling all over the country touring college campuses and meeting new people. College campuses can be absolutely beautiful and I love hearing from current college students about their educational experiences and how they are pursuing their dreams. Each campus has a personality that I try to get a sense of so I can make good recommendations to my students.
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into College Journey Consulting story. Tell us more about the business.
In order to assist students in finding the best-fit college based on academic, social and financial needs, I am a “student of colleges” and strive to learn about as many colleges as possible. I stay abreast of current admissions trends by networking with colleagues, attending conferences and workshops, watching webinars, and reading blogs and articles so that I can be a resource to families and answer any questions they might have. I also help identify affordable colleges and work to demystify the financial aid and scholarship processes.
My passion is helping students reflect on their aptitudes and interests to begin formulating college and career goals. I help them explore the different types of colleges and understand the unique offerings of each and how they relate to the student’s learning style and goals. We also discuss how to make the most of the college years and begin laying the groundwork for a successful transition to college.
I provide structure and organization to help alleviate stress for the family as well as give students the tools and information needed to complete compelling college applications. I help the student find their voice in the essays and applications, provide online organizational tools and assist in every stage so that students and families feel supported throughout the entire process. Since every student has unique needs, I am flexible in my approach and meet the student where they are and move forward from there.
I am a proud member of IECA and HECA (Higher Educational Consultants Association) and follow their code of ethics and principles of good practice.
Do you have any advice for finding a mentor or networking in general? What has worked well for you?
One of the best things I did with networking was to reach out to fellow IECs from my summer training institute to form our own networking group. As a sole practitioner, this field can be lonely and I missed having professional colleagues to bounce ideas off of and just provide support as we all worked through our own challenges. Six IECs from five different states decided to meet online monthly using Google Hangouts. We kept the group small so we would each have a voice and have been going strong for the past six years. This group has been amazing! We are able to support each other through challenges and celebrate our successes. We share resources and ideas and collaborate when we can. We were able to set up a tour of several colleges just for our group and we meet up often at conferences. We even presented this networking group idea at a conference that encouraged many other IECs to set up their own groups.
When I was first starting out, I found a mentor by just asking a local IEC if she would work with me. She agreed and provided some wonderful insights and guidance in those first few months. My advice is not to be afraid to ask. Reach out and move on if someone declines.
I am also a member of a local networking group that focuses on women in business and I enjoy it as the emphasis is on supporting each other and building relationships. This group fits me better than the many of the others I tried where the focus is more on marketing your business. I would encourage new business owners to consider their goals in networking and find a group that helps meet those goals. Think about the mission of each group and try different ones until you find the one that works best for you.
- Contact me for pricing and services.
- Address: Missouri City (Sienna), Texas
- Website: http://www.collegejourneyconsulting.com/
- Phone: 281-778-0928
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CollegeJourneyConsulting/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/CollegeJourney1