The Ivy Coach Daily

May 6, 2022

The Kickbackers in College Admissions

Kick·back·ers (noun) – a know-it-all parent of a child navigating elite college admissions who brags about the accomplishments of their child to the college admissions officers, private college counselors, and everyone under the sun who rejected them or simply didn’t think they were god’s gift.

Over the last three decades, you can likely imagine we’ve encountered our fair share of parents who enjoy bragging about their children. “My son has a 4.9 GPA and cured tongue cancer.” “My daughter has a 1590 SAT and plays the violin blindfolded with perfection.” “My son is ranked #1 in his high school class and will be attending Harvard next year, after he applies.” And on and on the bragging parents go. But we’ve been noticing a new trend in the last year or so and it’s, well, outrageous. Parents whose children are denied at their dream colleges who then like to kick back with gusto. We call these parents The Kickbackers. We shall explain.

Rick Clark, the Director of Undergraduate Admission at Georgia Tech, recently Tweeted, “Growing trend in recent years — emails from parents whose kids we denied/waitlisted four years ago announcing upcoming college graduation and all of their accomplishments/achievements along the way.” Yes, Rick and his staff at Georgia Tech have encountered The Kickbackers. And boy are these parents — who most certainly are not our clients — the absolute worst. Allow us to share an anecdote of a parent we’d classify as a Kickbacker whom we encountered this year.

In this instance, a mother — who was not our client but rather a prospective client — wrote us how she was communicating with the admissions dean at a top university to which her son was applying. While she was not our client (our clients would never do such a thing!), we offered her some candid advice: “We strongly urge you not to email with the Dean of Admissions. It will not serve your son’s case for admission.” She was flummoxed. After all, she claimed it was commonplace for parents to email with this particular admissions leader. In fact, she said he publicly invited such communications. But, of course, even if that were the case — even if the admissions dean did invite parents to send direct emails — that doesn’t mean parents should.

Students should be the ones in charge of their own admissions process and not even students should be emailing with the dean of admissions. That’s like going to CVS and asking to speak to the supervisor when they’re out of your favorite Crest toothpaste. In any case, the mother was not happy with our candid feedback and didn’t hesitate to let us know. A few months later, she wrote in again, this time to let us know her son got in to that very institution in which she communicated with the admissions dean. So we suppose her son wasn’t denied (or so she claimed). But nonetheless, the kickback.

Thoughts on The Kickbackers? We welcome them. Post a comment below and we’ll be sure to jump in on the conversation.

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