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iLEAD Exploration Advisor Puts College in Reach for All Learners

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High school counselors work tirelessly to support their students’ efforts to attend the colleges and universities of their choice. And although these efforts produce tremendous results for some, iLEAD Exploration’s College and Career Advisor Laura Kazan is not satisfied with the status quo.

Redefining the Mission

Kazan is not just focused on getting learners into college. She’s focused on the systemic factors that keep some learners out of college or from seeking opportunities in higher education at all.

In her work as a university researcher, Kazan studied how social capital and networks influence learners’ post-high school choices and success.

“The truth is that my dissertation work came to life,” Kazan said. “I began to see in real time how parent networks push learners up or down when it comes to college.”

Creating the Infrastructure

Kazan’s initial call to action crystallized with the formation of College Seekers, a nonprofit organization aimed at educating parents and communities.

“I had to choose between helping individuals and making a broader contribution,” Kazan said.

She began doing workshops focused on educating parents and gaining a better understanding of their networks.

Three years ago, Kazan’s workshops began to attract larger groups and led to the formation of the Facebook Group CA Homeschool College Seekers.

She knew that homeschool families faced unique pressures. “When you homeschool your child, you feel the responsibility for your child’s education at a greater level,” Kazan said.

Her ongoing mission now is focused on sharing accurate information and relieving unnecessary anxiety. “We try to be the face of choice and success,” Kazan said.

The Current Effort

Two years ago, Kazan was approached by iLEAD Exploration’s Codirector Heather Ferenc about supporting their learners. Kazan saw this as an ideal opportunity to work for an organization that would embrace her philosophies and dramatically impact the entire college mystique for a large homeschool community.

Along with iLEAD Exploration parents, facilitators and leaders, Kazan works closely with lead counselor Bethany Maddox and her team. Together, they embrace the vision that every learner has the potential to go to college.

“We challenge the assumption that college is for certain learners only,” Kazan said. “Some of the work is just about providing the right information.”

Myths, Misinformation

One common area of misinformation, according to Kazan, is revealed in the A-G course list, the high school courses that the University of California (UC) and California State University (CSU) systems require of applicants.

Kazan said that although this is the standard system that high schools and their counselors have adopted, it’s also at odds with much of what the homeschooling community is all about.

“Parents and families come to us and others like us for educational freedom,” Kazan said. “A-G is at odds with this.”

This is where information and education are important, according to Kazan.

“The first thing is that this list only matters if you’re going to attend a UC or CSU school,” Kazan said. “And although these are fine options, they represent only a small fraction of available options.”

While California’s UC and CSUs accept only particular chemistry courses that have met the A-G requirement, Kazan points out that 4,000 other institutions across the country don’t have that same requirement.

Additionally, Kazan pointed out that a high schooler can meet A-G requirements by taking college courses concurrently. “One can, in theory, meet all of the A-G requirements by successfully completing nine community college courses,” she said.

Dual enrollment programs have now made this possible for many learners.

Finally, Kazan points out that another obstacle she’s helping families overcome is misperceptions about educational costs. Across the country, she said, the average tuition discount is 52 percent. Additionally, Kazan said there are about 70 colleges that fill the gap between cost and what one can afford.

Proper Advising

Kazan said that good information and personalized college advising are now more important than ever before.

“You don’t know what you don’t know,” Kazan said. “Once I explain how it works, it makes sense. There are always alternative pathways.”

Ultimately, Kazan said she and the team at iLEAD Exploration are helping all learners and their families to be aware of all their options and ultimately make the right choices for them.

“If you understand your learner’s needs and financial ability, we can help you find the right path. My goal is to guide learners to the most appropriate postsecondary pathway, whether that’s a four-year school, a community college, a technical school, or a military certificate program,” Kazan said. “But I do want them to know their options and plan out before they leave. They need to know what to ask.”

To help guide learners’ college and career journeys, Kazan facilitates an elective course called College Explorations, and her team uses such resources as SCOIR and You Science.

Customer Feedback / Learner Experiences

iLEAD Exploration senior Skye Popov has been accepted to over a dozen colleges and universities, including CalArts, San Diego State University, UC Santa Cruz and University of San Francisco. However, Popov said initially she was terrified and skeptical of not only applying to colleges but attending them as well. Popov said Kazan has supported her every step of the way in the long journey to higher education.

“In addition to always providing timely and valuable information, [Kazan] showed me kindness and patience throughout this entire process,” Popov said. “Even in the dark months of waiting for decisions, she was there, always a helpful hand.”

Popov said that many of her peers are often overwhelmed and intimated by the college admissions process and that she believes it’s vital for all learners to have a professional advocate like Kazan in their corner.

“I cannot express how grateful I am to have had Ms. Kazan helping me through it all,” Popov said. “My family considers her a friend for life.”

Onward and Upward

Kazan is driven by a unique passion to educate families on the plethora of postsecondary options and opportunities, according to Lara Durrell, iLEAD Exploration’s Director of Communications and Operations.

“Through her tireless efforts, she develops creative solutions and unique pathways, making it possible for all learners to attend a college or university,” Durrell said. “She is an inspiring influencer of families and educators alike, always emphasizing the importance of a high school portfolio that showcases rigorous academics with intentional activities and service.”

Kazan feels that she and iLEAD Exploration are at the beginning of this journey. She said that she and her team are working to provide a culture in which learners aim high.

“We want to be the homeschool destination for those who want to go to college,” Kazan said.

Posted on April 13, 2021 in iLEAD Digest

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Effective date: August 29, 2019

iLEAD California (“us”, “we”, or “our”) operates the https://ileadschools.org/ website (the “Service”).

This page informs you of our policies regarding the collection, use and disclosure of personal data when you use our Service and the choices you have associated with that data.

We use your data to provide and improve the Service. By using the Service, you agree to the collection and use of information in accordance with this policy. Unless otherwise defined in this Privacy Policy, the terms used in this Privacy Policy have the same meanings as in our Terms and Conditions, accessible from the Service.

Information Collection and Use

We collect several different types of information for various purposes to provide and improve our Service to you.

Types of Data Collected

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While using our Service, we may ask you to provide us with certain personally identifiable information that can be used to contact or identify you (“Personal Data”). Personally identifiable information may include, but is not limited to:

We may use your Personal Data to contact you with newsletters, marketing or promotional materials and other information that may be of interest to you. You may opt out of receiving any, or all, of these communications from us by following the unsubscribe link or the instructions provided in any email we send.

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We may also collect information on how the Service is accessed and used (“Usage Data”). This Usage Data may include information such as your computer’s Internet Protocol address (e.g. IP address), browser type, browser version, the pages of our Service that you visit, the time and date of your visit, the time spent on those pages, unique device identifiers and other diagnostic data.

Tracking & Cookies Data

We use cookies and similar tracking technologies to track the activity on our Service and we hold certain information.

Cookies are files with a small amount of data which may include an anonymous unique identifier. Cookies are sent to your browser from a website and stored on your device. Other tracking technologies are also used such as beacons, tags and scripts to collect and track information and to improve and analyse our Service.

You can instruct your browser to refuse all cookies or to indicate when a cookie is being sent. However, if you do not accept cookies, you may not be able to use some portions of our Service.

Examples of Cookies we use:

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iLEAD California uses the collected data for various purposes:

Legal Basis for Processing Personal Data under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

If you are from the European Economic Area (EEA), iLEAD California legal basis for collecting and using the personal information described in this Privacy Policy depends on the Personal Data we collect and the specific context in which we collect it.

iLEAD California may process your Personal Data because:

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iLEAD California will retain your Personal Data only for as long as is necessary for the purposes set out in this Privacy Policy. We will retain and use your Personal Data to the extent necessary to comply with our legal obligations (for example, if we are required to retain your data to comply with applicable laws), resolve disputes and enforce our legal agreements and policies.

iLEAD California will also retain Usage Data for internal analysis purposes. Usage Data is generally retained for a shorter period of time, except when this data is used to strengthen the security or to improve the functionality of our Service, or we are legally obligated to retain this data for longer periods.

Transfer of Data

Your information, including Personal Data, may be transferred to – and maintained on – computers located outside of your state, province, country or other governmental jurisdiction where the data protection laws may differ from those of your jurisdiction.

If you are located outside United States and choose to provide information to us, please note that we transfer the data, including Personal Data, to United States and process it there.

Your consent to this Privacy Policy followed by your submission of such information represents your agreement to that transfer.

iLEAD California will take all the steps reasonably necessary to ensure that your data is treated securely and in accordance with this Privacy Policy and no transfer of your Personal Data will take place to an organisation or a country unless there are adequate controls in place including the security of your data and other personal information.

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If iLEAD California is involved in a merger, acquisition or asset sale, your Personal Data may be transferred. We will provide notice before your Personal Data is transferred and becomes subject to a different Privacy Policy.

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Under certain circumstances, iLEAD California may be required to disclose your Personal Data if required to do so by law or in response to valid requests by public authorities (e.g. a court or a government agency).

Legal Requirements

iLEAD California may disclose your Personal Data in the good faith belief that such action is necessary to:

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The security of your data is important to us but remember that no method of transmission over the Internet or method of electronic storage is 100% secure. While we strive to use commercially acceptable means to protect your Personal Data, we cannot guarantee its absolute security.

Our Policy on “Do Not Track” Signals under the California Online Protection Act (CalOPPA)

We do not support Do Not Track (“DNT”). Do Not Track is a preference you can set in your web browser to inform websites that you do not want to be tracked.

You can enable or disable Do Not Track by visiting the Preferences or Settings page of your web browser.

Your Data Protection Rights under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

If you are a resident of the European Economic Area (EEA), you have certain data protection rights. iLEAD California aims to take reasonable steps to allow you to correct, amend, delete or limit the use of your Personal Data.

If you wish to be informed about what Personal Data we hold about you and if you want it to be removed from our systems, please contact us.

In certain circumstances, you have the following data protection rights:

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You have the right to complain to a Data Protection Authority about our collection and use of your Personal Data. For more information, please contact your local data protection authority in the European Economic Area (EEA).

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We may employ third party companies and individuals to facilitate our Service (“Service Providers”), provide the Service on our behalf, perform Service-related services or assist us in analysing how our Service is used.

These third parties have access to your Personal Data only to perform these tasks on our behalf and are obligated not to disclose or use it for any other purpose.


We may use third-party Service Providers to monitor and analyse the use of our Service.

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iLEAD California uses remarketing services to advertise on third party websites to you after you visited our Service. We and our third-party vendors use cookies to inform, optimise and serve ads based on your past visits to our Service.

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Our Service may contain links to other sites that are not operated by us. If you click a third party link, you will be directed to that third party’s site. We strongly advise you to review the Privacy Policy of every site you visit.

We have no control over and assume no responsibility for the content, privacy policies or practices of any third party sites or services.

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Our Service does not address anyone under the age of 18 (“Children”).

We do not knowingly collect personally identifiable information from anyone under the age of 18. If you are a parent or guardian and you are aware that your Child has provided us with Personal Data, please contact us. If we become aware that we have collected Personal Data from children without verification of parental consent, we take steps to remove that information from our servers.

Changes to This Privacy Policy

We may update our Privacy Policy from time to time. We will notify you of any changes by posting the new Privacy Policy on this page.

We will let you know via email and/or a prominent notice on our Service, prior to the change becoming effective and update the “effective date” at the top of this Privacy Policy.

You are advised to review this Privacy Policy periodically for any changes. Changes to this Privacy Policy are effective when they are posted on this page.

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If you have any questions about this Privacy Policy, please contact us:

Important information regarding confidential student data

There is ongoing litigation between the California Department of Education and the Concerned Parent Association. A notice issued by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson states, “The lawsuit accuses CDE of widespread, systemic non-compliance by local educational agencies with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Section 504. The CDE denies these allegations and is actively defending the litigation.”

The court has ordered CDE to release student and parent information to provide personally identifiable information (PII) – an act that can only be taken as an exception to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). As a result, we are providing notice of the court order and directions to anyone wishing to object.

Please be advised that CDE will notify parents or students of whom are required to disclose information and those individuals may object directly to the court regarding this disclosure using the PDF link below:


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