As loyal readers of our college admissions blog know all too well, we blog about college admissions every day of the week. This task, of course, can get a bit tiresome. And that’s why we always endeavor to keep things fun and interesting. It’s for this purpose that we’ve got heroes and villains of our college admissions blog. University of Pennsylvania’s Dean of Admissions Eric Furda and Duke University’s Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Christoph Guttentag are heroes because of their tell-it-like-it-is approach to college admissions, an approach we greatly admire. Columbia University’s School of General Studies is a hero for their tireless, steadfast support of America’s veterans. Wellesley College, Bryn Mawr College, Barnard College, and Smith College are heroes for their trailblazing support of transgender rights. And so on.
And the villain of college admissions? Naming the mastermind of the college admissions bribery and cheating scandal would be too obvious and on the nose. Our choice? It’s Mark Sklarow, CEO of the Independent Educational Consultants Association, an association whose membership isn’t, in our opinion, worth the paper it’s written on as we’ve detailed extensively over the years. In fact, let’s give Mark Sklarow a nickname. While we’re not exactly fans of the current President of the United States, we find his nicknames both amusing and sticky. For Mark Sklarow’s history of attempting to restrain trade in violation of our free markets (he tried to tell our Founder what she could and couldn’t charge when she made the mistake of paying membership dues to his organization), should we call him…
Commie Mark? No, let’s just call him Bernie. Only he’s not nearly as cool as Bernie Sanders. But we’ll call him Bernie anyway for kicks.
Today, we thought we’d walk our readers through some recent comments “Bernie” has made in the press to highlight how he has a habit of either not telling it like it is or just saying things that don’t make much sense at all.
5 Ridiculous Recent Assertions by the Villain of College Admissions
1.) In a New York Times piece, he is referenced as follows: “An effective and ethical private consultant will often call a school counselor to learn more about a student’s grades, classroom demeanor and strengths and weaknesses, said Mark H. Sklarow, chief executive of the Independent Educational Consultants Association.” Good god, Bernie! We firmly believe just the opposite: an effective and ethical private college consultant will always honor the confidentiality of their clients. Even if they did have the permission of a family, an effective and ethical private college consultant will never interface with a school counselor — or anyone on behalf of a student or his or her parents. Effective and ethical private college consultants work exclusively behind the scenes. Why on earth would you want your child’s counselor to know that you’re getting outside help? Why would you want the counselor to think you’re second guessing his or her every move? This is the very person who will be writing a letter of recommendation on behalf of your child. And what if — god forbid — the fact that your child had outside help made its way into said letter of recommendation? This would only make the student present as privileged and unlikable to college admissions officers. Bernie! That’s some really unsound advice. It’s making us feel the Bern.
2.) In a piece in The Chicago Tribune, he makes a bold claim: “The Independent Education Consultants Association strongly encourages members to also offer their services for free to community groups that help students from disadvantaged areas prepare for college, and 99 percent do so, CEO Mark Sklarow said.” Oh? And with such conviction, too. 99% of the allegedly over 1,900 IECA members offer their services for free to community groups? Does this claim have any basis in fact? Is it based on self-reporting by these counselors? We took the liberty of perusing six sites of IECA members at random. Zero of the six offered pro bono services on their websites. Does this mean they don’t offer pro bono services? Not necessary. But 99%, Bernie? That’s quite the claim. And here it is we thought you were vehemently against making claims of this nature.
3.) In a CNBC piece, he is quoted, “‘We know anxiety is off the charts. Part of the reason anxiety is off the charts is the decision-making in colleges has become so opaque,’ said Mark Sklarow, CEO of the Independent Educational Consultants Association.” That, of course, we would argue is false. The decision-making in college admissions has not “become so opaque.” In fact, the decision-making process at our nation’s elite schools hasn’t changed much at all over the last decade nor for the most part have the factors in deciding admission, which have been widely reported (including coursework, grades, test scores, activities, socio-economic / minority status, legacy / recruited athlete status, etc.).
4.) In another piece on CNBC, he is quoted, “‘Parents have too much invested in their kids,’ said Mark Sklarow, CEO of Independent Educational Consultants Association. ‘They want to put the name-brand sticker in the back window of the family car. They give more thought to getting into the name-brand university than they do in the appropriateness of the school.'” Oh? Who are you, Bernie, to speak for all parents? The chutzpah! In this same piece, he says, “There is so much evidence that where you go matters so much less in terms of your career than what you do once you get there.” Oh Bernie. There is so much evidence that where you go matters big time in terms of your career (say it with us: connections!). And let us remember it’s very difficult to get into Harvard. It’s quite easy to do well at Harvard once you’re there. Heck, the school is famous for its grade inflation.
5.) In a piece in US News & World Report, he is quoted,”‘We want to make sure that if a family hires a member of our association, that they’re really knowledgeable, well trained, ethical, competent, all the things that you would expect,’ Sklarow says. He adds that in the absence of state licensure for independent educational consultants, IECA has adopted that role of arbiter, setting standards and practices.” Oh? Then why, Bernie, have some of your members right here on the East Coast over the years infringed on our trademarks and/or plagiarized verbatim content on our website and claimed it as their own to promote their competing businesses? These are people to be trusted guiding students through helping them with their admissions essays? That’s some vetting process, Bernie!
Oh and we’re just warming up. You see, the more we get word that Mark Sklarow (a.k.a. the man we dub “Bernie”) spreads falsehoods, the more we’ll expose the man for the villain we believe him to be. Feel the Bern!