This week’s events surrounding college admissions saddens me greatly. Not only because of the illegality of it, but also because of the message it sent to the multitude of highly qualified students who have applied to their schools of choice and were denied without being given a valid reason.
Frankly, I have never thought that “We got too many qualified applicants” was enough of a response. There are so many aspects of this situation that it is hard to hone in on just a few. Let me try.
The perpetrator was not a member of any of the recognized professional organizations who would have policed his activities. Each of the organizations to which I belong have issued statements of condemnation:
The National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) statement says: “Admission and counseling professionals understand and have valued ethical behavior as stated in our Code of Ethics and Professional Practices for well over 80 years,” said Stefanie Niles, NACAC president and vice president for enrollment and communications at Ohio Wesleyan University. “We strive to ensure that all students are treated equitably throughout the process,” he added.
The Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA) and its members are committed to helping families find the most appropriate college for their students and assist families in navigating the application process.
IECA members are professionals who understand and adhere to high ethical standards and follow a comprehensive code of ethics in all their interactions with clients and institutions. They are compensated by and work exclusively on behalf of their client families.
The Higher Education Consultants Association (HECA) similarly discussed the code of ethics which members must uphold. It adds: As the only network of independent educational consultants focused exclusively on supporting high school students in their search for the right fit college, HECA members create greater access to opportunity and change lives.
What is the message being sent to young people in these cases? I am most concerned by the message that these parents have given their children is that:
- The student is not worthy without cheating!
- That unless the student attends a prestigious school, the parent is disappointed in them.
- Cheating is OK.
- You can get anything you want by lying and paying for it no matter what it does to others.
- Hard work does not matter; only privilege matters.
These are all terrible, harmful messages.
My advice to parents, based on my more than two decades of experience as a Certified Educational Planner are:
1. When choosing an educational consultant, be sure to check the person’s membership and standing in these organizations. Unaffiliated consultants are neither vetted nor monitored.
2. Parents don’t get your hands into all the things your students produce. When you do that, you’re undermining the confidence of your child. You’re sending the message: “Without me, you cannot be successful.”
3. Ignore whatever hype is around you and do what is best for your student.
4. Really hear what your student is saying about the kind of future he or she wants.
5. Applaud every success and acknowledge every failure. Without the latter, the former never happens. Don’t rescue your student! He or she must learn how to clean up his own messes and learn that there are consequences to her actions or inactions. If you are always in the middle, they have someone to blame other than themselves!
6. Acknowledge that life isn’t fair.
Why hire a genuine college professional:
Parents hire me so that their student will have the time to develop the self-awareness they need to complete the college search and application process. With my professional guidance they’ll do so in a planned and deliberative manner.
In much the same way as baking a cake, it cannot be rushed and takes more than the 15 – 30 minutes that students get in their high schools to work through the myriad of issues.
I spend between 20 and 30 hours working with or on behalf of each of my students over the course of about 18 months.
I’ve guided hundreds of students to college success, and here’s what they say:
“The college application process can be as confusing and daunting to the student as is it for the parents. From the first consultation Ms. Klaar put all of us at ease. She dug in deep to help our son discover exactly what he wanted from his college experience and his career goals.
“She guided him in ways that we didn’t even know existed that lead him to a 4 year FULL scholarship. Ms. Klaar works directly with the student so they take ownership of their journey. As parents we highly recommend the services of Klaar College Consulting.”