Want special access to admissions officers? Not so fast. There’s a fascinating “Reuters” article out by Steve Stecklow, Renee Dudley, James Pomfret, and Alexandra Harney that we figured we’d draw to the attention of the readers of our college admissions blog. The piece is entitled “How a Chinese company bought access to admissions officers at top U.S. colleges” and it sure is a juicy one. A major Chinese “education” company named Dipont has apparently paid thousands of dollars to admissions officers at some of America’s most elite institutions in the hopes of improving their clients’ case for admission. Indeed the company even boasts of its relationship with various highly selective American institutions.
Our regular readers know that if anyone or any firm boasts of its relationship with various colleges, prospective clients — or clients — should run. Run fast and run for the hills. Because no company has special relationships with highly selective colleges. And if you think Dipont does, than this expose is quite the counterpoint — highly selective colleges will be reluctant to admit students these corrupt, bribe-taking admissions officers met with during their visits.
Colleges should demand to see the tax returns of admissions officers to ensure they’re not taking money from outside sources. And if Donald won’t release his tax returns but wants a job in admissions, don’t hire him. You don’t want him anyway.
As reported in the piece on the admissions scandal in “Reuters,” “Dipont denies the allegations of application fraud but boasts of its special relationship with some 20 U.S. colleges, which include Vanderbilt University, Wellesley College, Tulane University and the University of Virginia. Their admissions officers have visited China since 2014, personally advising Dipont students at an annual summer program on how to successfully apply to U.S. colleges. ‘Just once a year, current admissions officers become your exclusive consultants,’ an ad from Dipont tells prospective clients. The same ad features a Wellesley student crediting the Dipont program for her early acceptance.” Yikes, yikes, yikes! If that ad wasn’t a major red flag.
No current admissions officer should be taking outside admissions consulting money. The former admissions officers on our staff at Ivy Coach are former admissions officers. It’s a very important distinction. Our former admissions officers no longer have the power to admit or deny students. They now use their expertise to beat these colleges at their own game and they have every right to do so. That is America. That’s how our free market economy works. But current admissions officers? Talk about a conflict of interest. If a current admissions officer ever reached out to us, asking if they could work for us while simultaneously working in admissions, the line would instantly go dead.
Shame on these admissions officers. Shame on this Chinese company (and, yes, cheating is widespread in China, a subject we’ve been writing about for years on our admissions blog). We firmly believe that America’s most elite colleges need to take measures to ensure bribes can never influence admissions officers. And how? Just as journalists can’t give money to politicians or even foundations run by politicians (hi George Stephanopoulos with your donation to The Clinton Foundation), so too should admissions officers not be able to take money from outside sources. It’s likely in their employment contracts but we urge colleges to go a step further — demand to see their tax returns. If they received money from outside sources, they’d have to declare it. Make them release to you their tax returns. It’s not like Donald Trump is applying for a job as an admissions officer. Most will agree. And if they don’t agree, don’t employ them. Simple as that.