The hardest part of responding to yesterday’s college admissions scandal is choosing a place to start. The worth of name brands? The celebrity culture? The illusion of meritocracy in admissions? The outright bribery?
For us college consultants, it smacks in the face of our own code of ethics, and for the students involved, perhaps the high-jacking of their opportunity to find a college that fits them best.
As participating members of professional educational organizations (HECA, IECA, WACAC, AICEP), we uphold the ethics and standards of our profession prohibiting guarantees and commissions. William Singer operated as a fixer, a cheat for parents; not as an Independent Educational Consultant (IEC) for students. IEC’s spend countless hours attending presentations, conferences and college visits so we can best help students find a school where they will thrive. In all of the reporting, not once did we hear about Mr. Singer sitting down with, getting to know or evaluating the personality and interests of the students involved. Instead, we heard about parents intent on highly selective schools, and that Singer, not a member of these professional organizations, invented a side door scam guaranteeing admission for their children.
Those in our profession already know that college admissions is not always a meritocracy. The admissions process is frequently criticized as giving advantages to the well-connected, legacies and collegiate sports programs. However, this scandal hits a nerve and begs for reform in the way the public views these “top” schools. Numerous research studies have been written, evaluated, revisited and all come to the same conclusion: children from affluent households will typically earn higher lifetime salaries regardless of where they attend college. Wouldn’t it then be better for them to find their best fit schools and blossom on their own merits?
Our hope is that this week’s spotlight will bring more transparency in admissions from the college side, more understanding of the process to the public and an appreciation that there are many schools where students find success on their own terms. As Frank Bruni’s New York Times Best Seller states, Where you Go is Not Who You’ll Be, and to that end, a student’s worth is not measured by where they go, but what they do there and in the years after.
Susan Monken, College Untangled
Amanda Hirko, Hirko Consulting