The Ivy Coach Daily

February 1, 2024

Meet Mark Sklarow, The Villain of College Admissions

Villain of Admissions, Admissions Villain, College Admissions Villain
We have, in the past, called for the resignation of Mark Sklarow, the CEO of the Independent Educational Consultants Association (what a mouthful!).

Previously Published on June 3, 2019:

As loyal readers of Ivy Coach’s college admissions blog know well, we use our platform in elite college admissions to debunk commonly held misconceptions about the process, to demystify what many perceive to be a complex process, and to speak truth to power, agitating for change in the hope of making the process better for all.

But college admissions isn’t always the most fun topic to write about. As such, we always endeavor to keep things entertaining. It’s why Ivy Coach’s college admissions blog features heroes and villains of the college admissions process.

Our loyal readers are likely familiar with some of the heroes of college admissions. There’s Eric Furda, the former Dean of Admissions of the University of Pennsylvania, Charles Deacon, the longtime Dean of Undergraduate Admissions of Georgetown University, and Christoph Guttentag, the longtime Dean of Undergraduate Admissions of Duke University. All have always told it like it is — and we greatly admire their honesty. 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 Varsity Blues college admissions bribery and cheating scandal would be too obvious and on the nose. Our choice? It’s an easy one.

Mark Sklarow, the Villain of College Admissions

It’s Mark Sklarow, CEO of the Independent Educational Consultants Association. As we’ve detailed extensively over the years, the association’s membership isn’t, in our opinion, worth the paper it’s written on.

In fact, let’s give Mark Sklarow a nickname. While we’re not exactly fans of a certain former president of the United States, we find his nicknames amusing and sticky. For Mark Sklarow’s history of attempting to restrain trade (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? Or perhaps Marxist Mark? Let’s go with Marxist Mark.

Today, we thought we’d walk our readers through some comments Marxist Mark has made over the years in the press to highlight his terrible habit of either not telling it like it is or just saying things that don’t make much sense.

5 Ridiculous Assertions by the Villain of College Admissions, Mark Sklarow

1.) In 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, Marxist Mark! 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 their parents. 

Effective and ethical private college consultants work exclusively behind the scenes. Why on earth would you want your child’s counselor to know you’re getting outside help? Why would you want the counselor to think you’re second-guessing their every move? After all, the school counselor 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? Such a faux pas would only make the student present as privileged and unlikable to college admissions officers.

Marxist Mark! That’s some really unsound advice you’ve offered! And to think you’re leading an organization of some private college consultants. No wonder there are so many lousy college counselors in your organization!

2.) In a piece in The Chicago Tribune, Marxist Mark 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 ten websites of IECA members at random. Zero of the ten offered pro bono services on their websites. Does this mean they don’t offer pro bono services? Not necessarily. But 99%, Marxist Mark? That’s quite the claim. And we thought you were vehemently against making claims of this nature.

3.) In CNBC piece, Marxist Mark 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 that influence the admissions process, which have been widely reported (including coursework, grades, test scores, activities, socioeconomic/underrepresented status, legacy/recruited athlete status, etc.). Heck, the fall of Affirmative Action in June 2023 didn’t even have much of an impact on admissions decision-making since colleges found legal workarounds for the consideration of race.

4.) In another piece on CNBCMarxist Mark 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, Marxist Mark, 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.”

Marxist Mark! There is so much evidence that where you go matters big time with regard to your career progression (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, Marxist Mark 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, Marxist Mark, have some of your members over the years infringed on our trademarks and/or plagiarized verbatim extensive content of our website and claimed it as their own to promote their competing businesses? These people, who got caught with their hands in the cookie jar, are trusted to guide students through helping them with their admissions essays? That’s some vetting process, Marxist Mark!

Ivy Coach Calls on the IECA to Fire the Hypocritical Mark Sklarow

We at Ivy Coach are proud members of the National Association for College Admission Counseling. And we at Ivy Coach are proudly not members of the Independent Educational Consultants Association, an organization whose membership — to paraphrase former president of Israel Chaim Herzog when addressing the United Nations on an antisemitic decree that Zionism was alleged to be racism — we believe isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.

So, today, from atop our soapbox in college admissions, we at Ivy Coach issue a clarion call for the Independent Educational Consultants Association (what a mouthful!) to fire its CEO Mark Sklarow or disband. Because the whole organization, in our view, is a sham.

As a final anecdote, in the early aughts, when the IECA was likely desperate for membership dues, Marxist Mark personally “grandfathered” us into their organization despite our unwillingness to delete the statistics on our website about our success in helping students earn admission to the colleges of their dreams. Apparently, sharing no statistics was a guideline for membership (no wonder so many college consultants in their ranks are so bad — there is no standard of success!). And it seems the hypocritical Mark Sklarow, Marxist Mark if you will, has no standards either.

The more Marxist Mark singles out our fees in the press, fees we have every right to charge in America’s free market economy, the more we’ll spill the tea — and do we have tea to spill! — on this crotchety, hypocritical leader of what we believe to be a good-for-nothing organization. Heck, we believe the man even violated his organization’s own “Principles of Good Practice” by not “refrain[ing] from making disparaging or discriminatory remarks” during the time in which we regrettably paid membership dues (during that time, he publicly criticized Ivy Coach and any company that has “Ivy” in its name).

Stay tuned for more updates on the villain of villains of college admissions — unless, of course, the arrogant Mark Sklarow alas realizes he tried to bully the wrong organization and finally learns to put a sock in it.

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