The Heroes and Villains of College Admissions

Villains of College Admissions, Heroes of College Admissions, Admissions Heroes

There is one recurring villain on our college admissions blog (photo credit: Derrick Smith).

We’ve been writing about the highly selective college admissions process for many years on the pages of our blog. Can you imagine writing about college admissions every day for years and years on end? Even on Yom Kippur and Christmas, Thanksgiving and Halloween? It’s quite the undertaking but nonetheless it’s part of our routine — like teeth-brushing and flossing. College admissions isn’t exactly the most glamorous subject matter. It’s not like writing about Hollywood dealmaking or the behind-the-scenes drama of this year’s NBA Championship (J.R., really?). So always in an effort to keep things interesting, we’ve shined a lantern over the years on the heroes and villains of college admissions. Indeed they’re recurring characters on our college admissions blog. Our regular readers likely know them well but if you happen to be new to our blog, we figured we’d put the spotlight on them today.

Heroes of Our College Admissions Blog

While many college admissions leaders don’t tell it like it is, there are some exceptions. The University of Pennsylvania’s dean of admissions Eric Furda is one such cat. The man is a straight-shooter and consistently speaks the truth about the admissions process even when it doesn’t always serve his interest. We can say the same about Duke University’s longtime dean of undergraduate admissions Christoph Guttentag. He’s been telling it like it as while leading Duke’s admissions office, well, for as long as Ivy Coach has been telling it like it is — since 1992.

Some schools have played heroes on our college admissions blog, too. Schools like Wellesley, Bryn Mawr, Smith, and Barnard have served as trailblazers in the fight for LGBT equality by championing the rights of college applicants who happen to be transgender. Schools like Dartmouth and Columbia have been lauded for appealing to America’s veterans, for educating so many of our brave men and women who’ve served our nation in uniform.

Richard Kahlenberg of The Century Foundation has openly questioned if universities offering preferential treatment to the children of donors is a violation of tax law (donors should not receive anything in return for tax-deductible donations) — and we love him for it. We love Malcolm Gladwell too for highlighting just how important college rankings are to our nation’s most elite institutions — and how so many of their moves directly relate to these very rankings. We can go on and on…

The Villain of Our College Admissions Blog

And while we’ve not been shy over the years to call out colleges, admissions officers, journalists, private college counselors, self-aggrandizing students who brag about their admissions in the press, and more, there is but one true recurring villain of our college admissions blog. The villain, Mark Sklarow, happens to lead an organization that we believe isn’t reputable, the Independent Educational Consultants Association, and so to call him out gives him more credibility than he may deserve. But we’ll do it anyway because, well, we believe he’s a discredit to his profession. The current President of the United States would likely assign him a nickname. Oh how we hold ourselves back.

The man has criticized our business for charging the fees we command quite openly — including when we wasted our resources paying for membership to his organization, membership we believe isn’t worth the paper it’s written on. While we understand that Mr. Sklarow seems to support socialism over capitalism, the bedrock of America’s economy, disparaging our organization while taking our membership dues was not only hypocritical but it was a direct violation of the very by-laws of the organization he is charged with leading.

The National Association for College Admission Counseling — to which Ivy Coach is a proud member — is currently being investigated by the Department of Justice for restraining trade, in violation of our free markets (they’re investigating incentives universities offer students to matriculate). We would like to instead point the attention of the Department of Justice to a lesser organization that openly attempts — unsuccessfully of course — to restrain trade. The leader of this organization once had the chutzpah to ask us if we really did charge a certain fee for a one-hour evaluation. We told him we sure did. It was Christmas day — if someone wanted us to work on the holiday, then we had to be incentivized to do so. Who is this man to tell us that we can’t charge whatever fees we so wish? …Just a man who can’t command the fees we charge. Bye, Felicia!


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