HECA Code of Conduct for Individual Consultants

HECA members shall:

  • Act professionally, responsibly, and ethically in all relationships with students, families, high schools, college admission personnel, and colleagues.  
  • Recognize the importance of confidentiality in performing their work.
  • Act with integrity, respect, courtesy and thoughtfulness in all transactions.

Recognizing there are specific issues that are common to education consultants in the conduct of their practice, the following Statements serve to guide HECA members in interpreting and applying the HECA Statement of Standards and Ethics:

In the conduct of their practice, HECA members shall:

  • Represent and promote their services with accuracy and honesty.
  • Not accept any reward, service, or remuneration from any college, university, agency, or organization for placement, referral, or recruitment of students. This does not apply to gifts of nominal value that in no way obligate the recipient.
  • Comply with all laws and regulations regarding students' rights to privacy with particular attention to regulations in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, FERPA.
  • Respect all student information (including transcript, test scores, financial resources, institutional preferences) as confidential.  
  • Secure permission from the student and/or family before revealing any information about students or their admission process, including but not limited to decisions and/or scholarship and financial aid awards.
  • Not make any written or verbal guarantee of college admission or placement, or guarantees of financial aid or scholarship awards.
  • Not make disparaging statements about postsecondary institutions.  
  • Not make unethical or unprofessional requests of, nor make disparaging statements about, school-based counselors, college admissions representatives, or other independent education consultants.
  • Not advocate to colleges or universities on behalf of students, unless expressly invited to do so by the college.
  • With written student and/or family permission, a HECA member may confer with high school counselors, college representatives and related professionals on matters related to college admissions and financial aid.
  • Counsel students to meet all application requirements and deadlines.
  • Counsel students to respect the college planning and application policies and requirements of his/her high school.
  • Caution and advise students to use internet resources with maturity and discretion.
  • Be encouraged to actively engage in pro bono work and to volunteer in education-related professional and community organizations.

Further, in their work with students HECA members strive to:

  • Approach and conduct the college planning and application process in an ethical, conscientious, and responsible manner.
  • Introduce a range of post-secondary opportunities and programs to students and their families while recognizing decisions are made by the student and/or family. Encourage students and families to conduct thorough research of the academic and co-curricular programs, selection process, and other distinguishing features, of colleges and universities.
  • Assist students to develop a list of colleges that are a "good-fit" - a list that is balanced, realistic, and reasonable in number.
  • Provide information about scholarships and the financial aid application process.
  • Encourage students to utilize the resources of their high school, the high school counselors, and advisors.
  • Provide advice that is consistent with the policies and procedures set forth by the student's high school regarding enrollment in rigorous or higher level courses.
  • Advise students on the types and uses of standardized admission tests and not suggest special educational testing for the sole purpose of securing extended testing time.
  • Advise students to be the sole author of their application and essays and counsel against inappropriate assistance from others - however well meaning. HECA members may provide general guidance, direction and review of the application, as needed, to minimize unintentional errors and omissions.
  • Assist students in approaching the college admission and decision-making process in an organized manner.
  • Advise students to report changes in the academic record or personal conduct once an application is submitted.
  • Advise students to notify colleges in a timely manner of their intent to withdraw an application, accept or decline offers of admission and to deposit at only one school.
  • Advise students who choose to defer admission that they should follow all conditions as outlined by the deferring college.

    Statement approved by the Higher Education Consultants Association (HECA) Board of Directors, June, 2016.

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