The Ivy Coach Daily

April 15, 2015

Admission Is Not Random

Getting into a highly selective college is by no means “random,” as Steve Cohen seems to suggest at the end of his editorial.

There is a college admissions article up on “The New York Observer” by Steve Cohen, author of some book from way back in 1983 on college admissions (who hasn’t written a book?), that we figured we’d share some thoughts on. And, yes, we’re familiar with the book but there are tons of books on college admissions and we don’t believe this book to have been all that influential! First of all, in this editorial, Mr. Cohen refers to that book he wrote about college admissions in this way: “I have never worked in an admission office, but that didn’t keep me from co-authoring the most successful book ever written on the subject.” By what metric is Mr. Cohen defining success? Book sales? Because we’ve checked the BookScan data. Yes, we’re familiar with BookScan, Mr. Cohen. There are lots of successful books on college admissions. What makes his the “most successful”? We’re just curious. Crunching the numbers and all.

But enough about this line we’re poking fun at. We’d like to address a few other points articulated in Mr. Cohen’s latest editorial. We have neither time nor energy to correct all of his incorrect statements, but we’ll touch upon a few of this attorney’s comments. He writes in his opening line, “The going rate in New York for a private admissions counselor is $25,000, with some, who boast staffs comprised exclusively of Ivy League admission office alumni, commanding upward of $40,000 for a year of admission guidance.” Mr. Cohen, while we do indeed boast a staff of former Ivy League admissions officers as well as other admissions officers of highly selective colleges, let us assure you that the fees you cite are not within ballpark of our Unlimited Package. You have not fully done your homework. The fee for our Unlimited Package is readily available for you to learn about on “CNBC” as an example.

You also suggest the following: “I’ll propose one change that could put the whole system into perspective: every selective college should allocate 1 percent of its entering class admission slots to a lottery: 39 kids at Vanderbilt, 27 at Brown, and so on. A random selection process for a tiny percentage of the class. The personality of the place probably wouldn’t change. But it would underscore the randomness of the whole process and give kids one little, extra bit of hope. And hope is a good thing.” The highly selective college admissions process — and the Ivy League admissions process, Mr. Cohen, is by no means “random” as you suggest and this point undercuts so many statements that you made in your editorial that are indeed both entirely accurate and rather insightful to readers. If the admissions process were random, students with terrible Academic Index scores would gain admission to Ivy League colleges. Students with terrible essays would get in, too, as would — potentially — convicted felons. Get the idea? We hope so. Random. Ridiculous.

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