The Grand Tour, College Admissions-Style

Sandra Ward, Avi Salzman, and Bill Alpert

April 11, 2015

For the wealthy, the sky’s the limit when it comes to taking their offspring on visits to schools that he might attend.

By SANDRA WARD, AVI SALZMAN, AND BILL ALPERT

April 11, 2015

Each year, the college admissions process gets a little more daunting. Consider the once-humble campus visit. Last month, Magellan Jets launched a college tour program, with prices starting at $43,500 for 10 hours of flight time on a small jet. Magellan came up with the idea of shuttling prospective students to campus visits after noticing that clients were booking jets to drop kids off at summer camp.

“We started talking with customers about what we could do to help with the college experience,” says Joshua Hebert, CEO of the Boston-based company. Many families, he says, want to visit several schools in a single day–next to impossible if you’re flying commercial. In addition to waiving its usual 25-hour minimum purchase, Magellan handles all the logistics and offers perks such as chauffeured campus tours and introductions to high-profile alumni.

One thing Magellan can’t do, though, is to get young Einstein admitted. That’s a job for consultants, who are also edging into the tour game. Clients of New York’s Ivy Coach who opt for the $100,000 unlimited package — covering tests, essays, applications, and, if you ask, tours — needn’t sweat the details. Rival IvyWise charges a comparative pittance, $3,500 to $5,000, for a customized itinerary, finding flights and hotels, and providing logistics, though parents must do the booking. For “special” applicants–offspring of artists, big donors, and world leaders (Malia Obama is on her college tour)–“the schools themselves will arrange for special tours,” says Brian Taylor, director of Ivy Coach. You don’t say.

— Sarah Max