The Two Faces of IECA

IECA, Independent Educational Consultants Association, IECA College Consultants

While we surely don’t agree with everything Elizabeth Warren believes, her takedown of the CEO of Wells Fargo was warranted. And so too is our call today for the resignation of the CEO of the Independent Educational Consultants Association, Mark Sklarow.

We have been quite vocal in the past about how we believe membership in the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA) isn’t worth the paper it’s written on (read Part I, Part II, and Part III for the full picture). Our Founder, Bev Taylor, was a member of this organization for years but we hardly see the benefit in being a member of an organization that most people haven’t heard of anyway. Not to mention, we firmly believe the organization, led by Mark Sklarow, to be unscrupulous and distinctly un-American with respect to its attempts to, we believe, restrain trade.

We’ve detailed extensively why we believe this organization to be unscrupulous in our three-part blog series we’ve referenced (and linked to) above but here’s a quick overview in two (long) paragraphs or less: (1) the IECA has historically bent its own standards, presumably in the interest of its bottom line. As an example, the IECA doesn’t allow its members to list statistics such as, “93% of our students have been admitted…” But, as we have evidence to document, Bev was ‘grandfathered in’ years ago when she justly refused to remove our true statistics from Ivy Coach’s website. We believe it was because the IECA was in need of membership dues at the time; (2) years later, the IECA tried to tell Bev what we could or couldn’t charge, deeming our fees to be unreasonable. But what is “reasonable” to some is sheer opinion. After all, this is the United States of America. We can charge what we so wish in our free society;

(3) one of the “Principles of Good Practice” of IECA is: “Members will not make disparaging public remarks about any school, college, program, or other IEC [independent educational consultant], either verbally or in their print or electronic communications.” We have in our possession an electronic communication (an email) that Mr. Sklarow, the CEO of the IECA, sent to an independent educational consultant disparaging another independent educational consultant, our own Bev Taylor. And this was not the first time Mark Sklarow disparaged Bev in print or electronic communications. In 2011, while Bev was a member of IECA, Mark Sklarow criticized the name of her company, Ivy Coach, as seen here. The hypocrisy — and chutzpah — of this man to take Bev’s membership dues and disparage her in the organization’s online materials. Shame on him for violating on multiple occasions the very “Principles of Good Practice” of the organization he is charged with leading!

We hereby call for the immediate resignation of the CEO of the Independent Educational Consultants Association, Mark Sklarow.

But in recent weeks, our conviction that membership in this organization isn’t worth the paper it’s written on has grown only stronger. Regular readers of our college admissions blog may remember when Jeannie Borin, an independent educational consultant, plagiarized verbatim an entire article of our Founder’s and published it on “The Huffington Post,” claiming it as her own (“The Huffington Post” has of course since removed it). We brought Ms. Borin’s blatant plagiarism to the attention of Mark Sklarow of the IECA over a month ago. And today, Ms. Borin is still listed among IECA’s membership despite the fact that we’ve brought this blatant plagiarism to Mark Sklarow’s attention. And so we pose this question to our readers: What does it say about the IECA that it would have someone who has committed a blatant example of plagiarism in its ranks? This is someone the IECA wants working with students on their college applications?

Inspired by Elizabeth Warren’s interrogation of the Wells Fargo CEO, we hereby call for the immediate resignation of the Chief Executive Officer of the Independent Educational Consultants Association, Mark Sklarow.

Wall Street Journal College Ranking

WSJ College Ranking, WSJ College Rankings, College Ranking of WSJ

Yale University topped today’s “Wall Street Journal” college ranking.

‘Tis the season for college rankings. “The Wall Street Journal” has in fact released a college ranking this week, one based on graduation rates, salaries, and debt repayment. So it’s certainly a very specific kind of ranking. As articulated in a piece by Melissa Korn for “The Wall Street Journal” entitled “How Colleges Stack Up on the Payoff for Students,” “Students choose a college for all kinds of reasons—from the courses it offers to the quality of its football team—but in dollars and cents, the best measure of a good college is what happens after graduation. Can the new grads find jobs? Can they repay their loans? Will their diplomas open doors—or shut them?…That’s why The Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education College Rankings weighted outcomes as the most important factor in our overall ranking, with a hefty 40% of the total score.”

The schools that rank highly in this particular ranking tend to have big financial aid budgets so their graduates tend not to graduate in as much debt as do graduates of less wealthy institutions.

So which colleges topped the college ranking by “The Wall Street Journal,” you ask? Yale University claimed the crown. Honorable Mention belongs to both Princeton University and Stanford University. Coming in fourth are Columbia University and Duke University. California Institute of Technology and Massachusetts Institute of Technology took sixth. University of Chicago took eighth. University of Pennsylvania secured the ninth spot. And Vanderbilt University rounded out the top ten.

And why did Yale take the crown? According to Korn, “A whopping 97% of its first-time, full-time students graduate within six years and 95% of those with federal loans were paying back some of the principal three years after graduation. Within 10 years of starting school, median salaries for Yale graduates who got federal aid and are therefore in the government’s College Scorecard database top $70,000.”

Congratulations to Yale for topping this particular, very specific college ranking! Oh, and yes, the “US News & World Report” college ranking for the year is out too. After all, it’s September. So there’s fall foliage and college rankings. Naturally.

Regeneron Science Talent Search

Regeneron Science Competition, Regeneron STS, Science Competition Regeneron

Ivy Coach salutes Regeneron for seamlessly taking a most important baton.

The Regeneron Science Talent Search. We like the sound of it. A year ago, you may remember how we lamented the end of Intel’s sponsorship of the world’s most prestigious science competition for high schoolers — the Intel Science Talent Search (Intel STS). It was a sad day for high school science researchers. The competition has existed for 74 years and only two companies have sponsored it in essentially three-quarters of a century: Westinghouse and Intel. But today, with great delight, we report that a third company will continue to carry this torch, a torch that lights the way for our young people to make advances in the sciences in this young century.

That company will be Regeneron. Regeneron has, accordingly, renamed the competition the Regeneron Science Talent Search. As per “Student Science,” “Regeneron [will be] committing $100 million to support the Science Talent Search and other Society programs through 2026. As part of its commitment, Regeneron is nearly doubling the overall award distribution to $3.1 million annually, increasing the top award to $250,000, and doubling the awards for the top 300 young scientists and their schools to $2,000 each. During its history, the Science Talent Search has provided more than $25 million in awards to over 8,500 students and schools. Regeneron is led by two alums of the Science Talent Search, Chief Executive Officer Leonard Schleifer and Chief Scientific Officer George D. Yancopoulos.” We loved that last tidbit — as Dr. Seuss would say, “Oh, the places you’ll go!

Credit is due to Regeneron for sponsoring the Science Talent Search, the paramount science research competition for high school students since 1942.

Ivy Coach salutes Regeneron for enthusiastically carrying this important torch, for continuing the tradition, and legacy, of the world’s most prestigious science competition for high school students. And we of course would be remiss not to salute Intel for their 16 years of stewardship of this competition. Oh and thanks for naming Brian of our firm a semi-finalist right at the beginning of your stewardship!

Fit in College Admissions Counseling

Fit in Admissions, College Admissions Fit, Fit in College Consultant

We love a good snickerdoodle cookie. Who doesn’t (photo credit: Visitor7).

Fit matters in college admissions counseling.

When you go into a small, family owned and operated bakery, you can bet that Ma and Pa behind the counter want you to make a purchase. Maybe they want you to buy the fresh cheesecake — whether you’re hungry for a cheesecake or not. Or maybe they want you to take home some snickerdoodle cookies. And while Ivy Coach is also a family owned and operated business with wonderful folks who work alongside us, we don’t share the philosophy of Ma and Pa at the bakery. In fact, we never want anyone to work with us as clients unless they really want to work with us. Read that sentence again. It makes sense even if you think it makes absolutely no sense.

If we’re not the right fit for a potential client, we’ll tell them. And, frankly, if they think about it, they should find it refreshing.

We want people who want us, who know the value-add Ivy Coach brings to helping students earn admission to the colleges of their dream. We won’t convince. We won’t sell. We won’t even — not once — follow up after a free consultation unless that person contacts us. And if during a free consultation we decide that a particular parent or student wouldn’t be much fun to work with (e.g., if they’re too demanding, unkind, have unreasonable expectations, etc.), we’ll suggest, “We’re not the right fit.” Sometimes this surprises parents…”What do you mean you’re not the right fit? I am a potential client! Convince me.” That’s right. We have the right to work with the folks whom we so choose and it is our longstanding policy at Ivy Coach, one that dates back to the early years of Bill Clinton’s presidency and one that has served us well, to only work with nice people, to only work with people we enjoy.

So while we realize saying that we’re not the right fit may rub some folks the wrong way, think about it this way: we’re not asking for your money. We’re not trying to sway you to work with us. We’re saying go elsewhere, where you might be able to find a better fit — which we have every right to suggest even if it is unusual. There’s an expression out there in the universe that the customer is always right. It’s not so. Often times, the customer, the client, is not right and they think they can do anything or say anything to a business to get the business to submit to their every wish. But they are wrong to think so.

The US News College Ranking

US News Ranking, College Ranking, US News University Ranking

Ivy Coach is featured extensively today on the pages of the newspaper of the University of Pennsylvania.

The “US News” college ranking is out. And Ivy Coach is featured today on the pages of “The Daily Pennsylvanian,” the newspaper of the University of Pennsylvania. The piece, about this very ranking, is written by Julia Bell and it’s entitled “Penn was ranked #8 by US News & World Report — but what do rankings actually mean?” ‘Tis the season for college rankings and when the college rankings come out, we’re often asked what we think about them. In short, what does it matter what we think about them? They matter. The matter to colleges. They matter to parents. They matter to students. And any college that should suggest the rankings don’t matter to them, well, they’re not telling you the truth.

Penn’s Dean of Admissions Eric Furda is not one not to tell the truth. Indeed he has a long track record of telling it like it is, a track record of being candid about the highly selective college admissions process even if it doesn’t always serve his interest. It’s cemented his place in our fictional ranking of best Deans of Admissions near the very top of the list. As Dean Furda articulates in the piece in “The Daily Pennsylvanian,” “We try to put to put a frame of context around it, but that message doesn’t always get across. And it’s something we live our lives in, too, so we can’t say it doesn’t matter.”

Does the “US News & World Report” college ranking matter to colleges? You bet it does.

And Brian of our firm backs up Dean Furda’s assertion in the piece. As quoted in the same “Daily Pennsylvanian” article, “’The U.S. News & World Report are the kingpin of the ranking,’ said Brian Taylor, director at Ivy Coach, a college admissions consulting firm. ‘It’s been part of the college process for so long that it’s engrained in students’ and parents’ heads.’ Taylor doesn’t foresee U.S. News World Report losing its audience or being usurped by another ranking system in the near future. However, other publications are establishing themselves with alternative ranking systems.”

And while the rankings are important here in the United States, they’re even more important elsewhere around the world. As quoted in “The Daily Pennsylvanian,” “Taylor emphasized that college rankings are especially important to international students, because they generally have less first-hand knowledge of American colleges than their local peers. ‘When you can’t visit schools, when your only knowledge of the schools are these rankings, they have a whole lot of weight,’ he said.” We couldn’t have said it any better ourselves. Oh wait.

Have a question about the “US News & World Report” ranking of colleges?

Problems with the New SAT

New SAT Problems, Problems with New SAT Test, New SAT Test Issues

Keep studying for that new SAT, buddy! It’s never too soon. We’re kidding. There’s a such thing as too soon.

There are problems with the new SAT. And while problems with any test revamp are to be expected (and we’ve reported on these problems with the newly designed test in the past), a special report by Renee Dudley for “Reuters” entitled “New SAT was designed in way that may hurt neediest students” paints a picture of a newly designed SAT that discriminates against non-native English speakers, American immigrants, students with dyslexia and undiagnosed learning disabilities, and international students. So, basically, the new SAT is Donald Trump. We kid, we kid. It’s not funny. The man could be the next President of the United States, though we sure hope not. We’re with her!

So how does the newly designed SAT discriminate against these groups? Well, the new math section is extremely text heavy. Apparently College Board realized in the course of their own research that about half of folks given a prototype exam weren’t able to finish the math section. This led some folks to surmise it was because, in the interest of making the section more practical and less, well, algebraic, the section became text heavy.

As Dudley reports for “Reuters,” “The redesigned SAT is described in the College Board’s own test specifications as an ‘appropriate and fair assessment’ to promote ‘equity and opportunity.’ But some education and testing specialists say the text-heavy new math sections may be creating greater challenges for kids who perform well in math but poorly in reading, reinforcing race and income disparities.”

Do our readers think a text heavy math section is unfair to certain groups who may struggle not with math but with the English language? We’re curious to hear from you so do post a Comment below and we’ll be sure to jump in on the conversation.

Overvaluing College Interviews

College Interviews, College Interviewing, Alumni Interviews

Remember this Princeton interview in “Risky Business”? We do!

Folks often write in something like this: “My son needs help with college interviews.” When we see something like this, we often wonder why so many parents essentially overemphasize the importance of the college interview and underemphasize the rest. The truth is that alumni interviews are a part of the admissions process at many highly selective colleges, but they’re one of the least important parts of this very process.

Do alumni interviews matter? Well, you don’t want to say something that will preclude your admission. You don’t want to say something racist (you shouldn’t anyway!). You don’t want to say something homophobic (you shouldn’t anyway!). You want to present yourself in the best possible light, not brag, be likable, etc. But even after all this, the alumni interview is but one small part of a big picture. So why do so many parents who don’t seek assistance with the stuff that matters big time — coursework, testing, an extracurricular hook, school selection, Early Decision / Early Action strategizing, those many college admissions essays, etc. write us asking for assistance with alumni interview prep? It boggles our minds. We’re happy to prep their children for their alumni interviews but we always tell them that this is like cleaning a car in which the engine may or may not be working. You get the idea.

Remember, alumni interviews are as much to appease alumni, to make them feel like they’re a part of the admissions process (after all, alumni are the donors to universities) as they are to figure out if an applicant is worthy of admission to a given university. So, in our minds, the interview is overvalued by many parents and students. They assign it more weight that it deserves.

2017 US News Liberal Arts Ranking

US News Ranking, College Ranking of Liberal Arts Schools, LOC Ranking

Williams College tops the 2017 “US News & World Report” best liberal arts college ranking.

While it may get a bit less fanfare than the national universities ranking, the 2017 “US News & World Report” best liberal arts colleges ranking is out too. And which college tops the 2017 list? Surprise, surprise. It’s Williams College. Again. Just like in 2016. Just like in 2015. Just like in 2014. You get the idea. It goes without saying that Williams College’s domination of this ranking is about on par with the dominance of the Harlem Globetrotters. And which team is the perennial runner-up? That distinction would belong to Amherst College. As the saying goes, “Always a bridesmaid, never a bride.” Sorry that we went there, Amherst. We had to.

Amherst College: always the bridesmaid, never the bride. We’re just kidding, Amherst. We do love you. In fact, we’d argue that Amherst offers one of the finest — if not the finest — education in America.

Anyhow, while the top two slots remained unchanged this year as compared to the 2016 “US News & World Report” best liberal arts college ranking, there was movement in the third slot. Congratulations to Wellesley College, the alma mater of (hopefully!) America’s next President, for moving into the third position from a four-way tie for fourth in 2016. Swarthmore College slipped this year a slot, into a tie for fourth with Middlebury College. Bowdoin College took sixth, Carleton College and Pomona college tied for seventh, and Claremont McKenna College and Davidson College tied for ninth.

So, by our math, the only school that ranked among the top ten best liberal arts colleges according to “US News” in 2016 that didn’t rank among them in 2017 is the United States Naval Academy. Eleven schools cracked the top ten in 2016, while only ten cracked it in 2017. In 2015, all of the schools that cracked the top ten this year also cracked the top ten — with exception to Davidson College (go Steph Curry!). Haverford College rounded out the top ten in 2015, though the school didn’t make an appearance among the “US News” best liberal arts colleges this time around.


Have a question about the 2017 best national liberal arts colleges rankings? Let us know your questions by posting a Comment below. We look forward to hearing from you.

2017 US News College Rankings

2017 US News Ranking, College Ranking, US News Ranking

The 2017 “US News” college rankings are out.

The 2017 “US News & World Report” college rankings are out. In the world of highly selective college admissions, this is always an event worthy of a calendar notation because the “US News” rankings matter quite a bit. To colleges. To parents. To students. To alligators. Ok, maybe not to alligators. We were being a bit silly there. Roll with it.

So which university topped the 2017 “US News & World Report” ranking for best national universities? That would be Princeton University. And, yes, it was Princeton that earned the top spot in 2016 too. If you’re curious which university earned the top spot in 2015, it was also Princeton. And 2014? Princeton. Are you starting to get the idea with respect to Princeton University’s stronghold on the top spot in the all-important “US News” rankings? We hope so.

Princeton University topping the “US News & World Report” ranking has become somewhat of an annual tradition. Congratulations, Princeton!

Anyhow, for the 2017 “US News” ranking, Harvard University took the runner-up slot with the University of Chicago placing third in a tie with Yale University. In fifth came Columbia University and Stanford University. In seventh came the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Duke University and the University of Pennsylvania tied for eighth. Johns Hopkins University landed the tenth slot. Dartmouth College placed eleventh, bettering its ranking from a year ago. The California Institute of Technology placed twelfth with Northwestern University. Brown University took fourteenth. Then came Cornell University, Rice University, University of Notre Dame, and Vanderbilt University in a four-way tie for fifteenth. Washington University in St. Louis placed nineteenth. Emory University, Georgetown University, and the University of California – Berkeley rounded out the top twenty in a three-way tie.

So there are cheers at the University of Chicago for sure, with the school climbing up from a three-way tie for fourth in the 2016 “US News” ranking into a two-way tie for third. UPenn climbed a notch to tie Duke for the eighth slot this year. And there are cheers at Johns Hopkins this year, too, with the school climbing into the top ten, pushing out the California Institute of Technology, a school that has historically topped this very ranking more than once.

Another Salute to Smith College

Smith College Admission, Admission to Smith, Smith College

Way to go, Smith College!

We’ve saluted Smith College before on the pages of our college admissions blog. The school is a trailblazer for LGBT rights. An all-women’s school that has graduated the likes of Sylvia Plath, Julia Child, and Gloria Steinem, the school changed its admissions policy last year so as to allow transgender students who identify as female to enroll at the university. But Smith College is not resting on its laurels. The school continues to serve as a trailblazer — this time paving a path for undocumented Americans to pursue an education at Smith.

Ivy Coach salutes Smith College for standing with undocumented American young people during a time in which their humanity is under siege by a candidate for President of the United States.

In an email that sent out yesterday by Smith’s Dean of Admissions, Debra Shaver, she wrote, “I am writing to tell you a little about our first-year class and share some great news about our admission policy for undocumented students…Undocumented and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) students will follow the procedures and requirements for first-year or transfer admission. They will be evaluated in the same way as U.S. citizens and U.S. permanent residents. Undocumented and DACA students may apply under any admission plan, including Early Decision.”

As regular readers of our blog may remember, we’ve written extensively about the right of undocumented American young people to earn admission to the highly selective American colleges of their dreams. During a time in which the candidate for President of the United States of one of our nation’s two major political parties espouses xenophobic, anti-immigrant hate speech, we salute Smith College for offering the same benefits any U.S. citizen who applies for admission to the school enjoys. That’s precisely how it should be.

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