When over 26% of high-achieving high school students have acknowledged using private college counselors as they navigate the admissions process, you can bet the figure is actually a whole lot higher. After all, in our experience, most students and their parents don’t like to admit they had help earning admission to the highly selective colleges of their dreams. They prefer to present an image to the world that they achieved their dreams all on their own. Surely they don’t want to acknowledge that they paid a high fee in order to help make their dreams a reality. And these parents and students absolutely have that right. It’s why our former clients rarely refer friends. But we almost always get their younger siblings as clients and we usually get their cousins, too. Funny how that works.
Over the years, many folks have been surprised by our fees. Some have derided us. Some have questioned why our fees aren’t comparable to other private college counseling firms. Some parents just assumed that their children are so smart and so wonderful that we’d wish to work with them for free. Who wouldn’t? …Bueller? Bueller? And some, of course, appreciate our expertise and track record over the quarter of a century in which we’ve been in business that they don’t make fun of us one bit. As the adage goes, “You get what you pay for.” But we thought we’d devote today’s post to addressing our critics from the left as well as the right. Now these critics may be few and far between but, hey, we blog about college admissions every week. Can you imagine? We’ve got to keep things interesting. So we’ve got to create heroes and villains, champions and nemeses from time to time on the pages of our blog, even if they’re imaginary.
The Critics from the Left
The Rich Get Richer Argument
Our imaginary critics on the left might argue, “You’re helping the rich get richer. The students who can afford your fees don’t need your help. It’s low and middle-income students who need all the help they can get.” We absolutely don’t disagree that low and middle-income students need better private college counseling but it is not possible for us to help tons and tons of students applying to college. We only have the resources to devote to a select set of students each year. And over the quarter of a century in which we’ve been in business, we’ve helped many low and middle-income students earn admission to highly selective colleges, likely more than any of these critics who speak loudly and carry a small stick.
These days, our pro bono services are reserved exclusively for veterans of America’s military and we’ve helped many veterans over the years earn admission to the colleges of their dreams after their dutiful service to our nation. While we certainly can’t help tons and tons of veterans either every year, we do work with a few annually in helping them achieve their dreams. It’s work we find immensely satisfying. Hear from a couple of those veterans below:
Soutrik Bhattacharya, Columbia University Class of 2019
William Wang, University of Pennsylvania Class of 2020
The Finite Slots Argument
Our imaginary critics on the left might argue, “But there are only so many slots in a given class at a highly selective college each year. You’re taking slots away from low and middle-income students by helping students from more privileged backgrounds.” No. Highly selective colleges seek out low and middle-income students. Read a college press release on the demographics of their admitted students and you’ll likely see how the school touts the percentage of first-generation college students, the percentage of students from low-income families, and more.
Not every student is competing against one another. As an extreme example to make our point, the child of an alumnus who donated three libraries and a boxcar train set to his alma mater isn’t competing against an exceptional student who will be the first in his family to attend college and is an undocumented American whose parents came to the U.S. from Mexico. Both students are the kinds of students highly selective colleges seek.
The Cost of a College Education Argument
Our imaginary critics on the left might argue, “Your fees are more than a college education! How can you justify that?” We appreciate that our fees are high. And we appreciate that the cost of a college education in the United States is high, too. The parents of our students appreciate that it is worth investing to help their children earn admission to an outstanding school when they’d otherwise earn admission only to a pretty good school. That degree from an Ivy League institution pays dividends over the course of a career.
The Critics from the Right
The America First Argument
Our imaginary critics on the right might argue, “Some of your clientele is international. By helping these students earn admission to American universities, you’re taking slots away from American candidates.” Oh? We beg to differ. Every highly selective college seeks to admit students from around the world. These are global universities. They are not regional universities. They seek to attract the most ambitious and intellectually curious students from all corners of the world. And these colleges seek these students so that they can offer them the finest education our world provides. The students can ultimately return to their homelands after receiving their educations to make their countries stronger, to improve the lives of those around them. So colleges want these students anyway. It’s why colleges love to tout that they have students from x number of countries in just about all of their press releases that focus on their incoming classes.
And these students are not taking slots away from American young people. Quite the contrary. International students are typically full-pays — as in they do not seek financial aid. These students thus subsidize the costs of a college education for many of our American students who rely on financial aid to attend college. Rather than taking slots away from American students, we would argue that international students help low and middle-income American students attend these very colleges.
The Stars and Stripes Argument
Our imaginary critics who believe international students at American universities take away slots from our country’s own students might also argue, “Why not devote your resources to Americans? Why help people from other countries?” Well, for starters, we’re an American business and our nation is built on a service economy. We make no apologies for being a global service business. Our world is becoming increasingly smaller and going global is the way of the 21st century. No business should ever apologize for being a global business. It is the direction of America’s future.
But to our America first friends, when so many manufacturers are offshoring their operations, when so many companies are outsourcing American jobs, we are ‘inshoring’ and ‘insourcing’ our operations and jobs, respectively. And if those words don’t exist, then we’ve now proudly created them. Clients come to us from all corners of our world and then our folks at Ivy Coach — who are Americans — help them achieve their dreams. We create jobs. We bring money and employment opportunities into America. If only Indiana’s Carrier could say the same.
Which argument from the left or the right are we forgetting? Let us know your thoughts on the above, your questions, and what you ate for breakfast by posting a Comment below. We look forward to hearing from you!
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