Are you seeking college advising? We write a whole lot about the highly selective college admissions process on our blog, but every now and then we can’t resist injecting some color commentary on our college advising business. Maybe it’s our way of venting or just sharing our experiences in business with our community. So here goes. A parent who had worked with us a few years back as we helped her son earn admission to Harvard recently came to us to advise her daughter so that she too can — hopefully — get into Harvard. No big deal.
But the parent was surprised to learn that our college advising fees have gone up in the years since we worked with her son. Indeed our fees go up each and every year. If the earth circled the sun, then you can bet our fees went up. So here’s what she said: “I get your fees went up for prospective clients. But I’m a returning client. I want to work with you again of course. Will you keep your fee the same as when you worked with my son? Please?” And while we do love working with siblings and while we do very much appreciate the loyalty, the short answer is that we can’t.
Did You Know?: Historically, our clients at Ivy Coach rarely refer friends. Parents don’t like to admit that their children had help getting into one of America’s most elite universities. But we just about always get the younger siblings. And we usually get the cousins.
Here’s how we replied, “When prospective clients come to us, they choose to work with us based on our track record, based on our reputation, based on a referral, you name it. But whenever you hire anyone new, there’s always a sliver of doubt because you’ve never worked together before — there’s a certain buy-in. You don’t have that sliver of doubt. You are bought in. You have that proof of concept. We helped your son earn admission to Harvard and we had a whole lot of fun in the process. What we should really do is charge younger siblings more because their parents know how good we are. But we won’t. We’ll honor the fee we’re offering everyone else.” The parent giggled and said, “Touché. You’ve gotten that one before, huh? Alright, alright. Let’s get working.”
We have indeed gotten this one before. The fact is that at our college advising business, we can only work with so many students each year. It would be an opportunity cost for Ivy Coach to work with anyone at a lower fee than our current fee. And it wouldn’t be fair to every other family that works with us this year. But we do very much love and appreciate our returning families. We find they are the best listeners.