What to Look For When Hiring a College Consultant
A consultant should help reduce anxiety for parents and students during the college admissions process.
By Josh Moody, Reporter April 4, 2019, at 11:43 a.m.
OPERATION VARSITY Blues, as the FBI dubbed it, is the college admissions scandal heard around the world.
The alleged bribery scheme to help the children of wealthy parents get into elite institutions ensnared Hollywood actresses, business moguls and college coaches accused of helping rig the system by creating a “side door” into schools, circumventing the normal admissions process. Working with an independent college counselor, parents allegedly tried to gain an edge by having students admitted as athletes – despite not playing sports – and changing their standardized test scores.
Now the scandal has cast college consulting in a negative light, prompting some professionals to call for a recommitment to ethics in the industry.
“This is an unfortunate example of the lengths to which people will go to circumvent and manipulate the college admission process, particularly to gain admission to highly selective colleges,” Stefanie Niles, National Association for College Admission Counseling president and vice president for enrollment and communications at Ohio Wesleyan University, said in a news release.
The scandal prompted similar criticism from others in the space. American Association of College Registrars and Admissions Officers Executive Director Michael Reilly said in a statement, “This behavior compromises the integrity of college admissions and reinforces stereotypes that people of privilege can circumvent the rules. It undermines public confidence in our institutions.”
As its moment in the spotlight arrives, the college consulting industry is booming both domestically and internationally.
Data from the Independent Educational Consultant Association, a nonprofit professional organization, show a 400 percent increase in domestic independent educational consultants since 2005. In that same time, the number of international consultants grew by 1,000 percent.
To Mark Sklarow, IECA chief executive officer, this is the most explosive scandal he’s seen in the admissions world since he began working with the nonprofit 25 years ago. The actions taken by the educational consultant at the center of the Varsity Blues case are in direct contrast to IECA ethics, which specifically bar admission guarantees and emphasize truthful, accurate application materials.
“We want to make sure that if a family hires a member of our association, that they’re really knowledgeable, well trained, ethical, competent, all the things that you would expect,” Sklarow says. He adds that in the absence of state licensure for independent educational consultants, IECA has adopted that role of arbiter, setting standards and practices.
For parents planning to hire an independent educational consultant, Sklarow has advice on what to look for… link to the article https://www.usnews.com/education/best-colleges/articles/2019-04-04/what-to-look-for-when-hiring-a-college-consultant