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The Ivy Coach Daily

February 19, 2021

The Best Private College Counselors Work Behind the Scenes

Private college counselors should not allow their current high school students to speak about the admissions process to reporters (photo credit: Derrick Smith).

File this one under please don’t ever confuse our company with IvyWise! Since Ivy Coach’s inception over 28 years ago, we have asserted that the best private college counselors work exclusively behind the scenes. After all, it does not behoove an applicant to acknowledge they had the help of a private college counselor as they navigate the highly selective college admissions process. And while there is absolutely nothing wrong with enlisting the help of a private college counselor — and so many college applicants across America and around the world do understandably choose to enlist the help of private college counselors, why advertise it? Does Tom Brady advertise all the details of his training regimen? Does a classical pianist spell out for the world the precise daily methods through which he or she approaches the craft?

The Lowly Independent Educational Consultants Association Suggests Private College Counselors Interface with School Counselors

Loyal readers of our college admissions blog know what we think of the lowly Independent Educational Consultants Association. While we are proud members of the National Association for College Admission Counseling, membership in the IECA, in our view, isn’t worth the paper it’s written on and one should think twice before enlisting the help of a college counselor who is a member of this organization. Want to know why? So many reasons! But look no further than New York Times piece in which the CEO of the IECA, a man we’ve deemed the villain of college admissions, Mark Sklarow, states, “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.”

The Lowly Independent Educational Consultants Association’s Advice Is Horrible

We, of course, firmly believe just the opposite of what the villain of college admissions has suggested (yes, we’ve got heroes and villains of this college admissions blog): 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, offsetting any help a private college counselor could provide.

A Private College Counseling Firm Advertises Working with a Named Current High School Senior in Press

And if you’re wondering why we’re bringing this all up today, well, look no further than an article in The Washington Post by Jon Marcus entitled “As admissions season descends, warning signs appear for low-income applicants.” In the piece, which tells the story of Aya Hamza, a current high school senior, Mr. Marcus writes, “‘There’s a lot more murkiness for everyone about this application process,’ said Katie Burns, a former admissions officer at MIT and now a counselor at IvyWise, the private company that helped Hamza. ‘But I see it impacting low-income students the most.'” Does anyone see anything strange? Wait for it. Wait for it. Ding, ding, ding!

We Believe That College Counseling Firm Has Done the High School Senior a Disservice

Why oh why is private college counseling firm IvyWise advertising that they’re working with a current high school senior — pro bono or otherwise? There is no indication in the piece that Ms. Hamza earned admission in the Early round and, even if she did and is not currently up for admission in Regular Decision or Early Decision II, she’s still a high school senior. The process is not completely over for Ms. Hamza. We have no qualms whatsoever with a private college counselor including testimonials from former clients in subsequent years — with their express permission of course. But while the student is a high school senior? We receive regular requests from news outlets in which reporters ask if we’d be willing to put them in touch with one of our clients so they can get a quote from a student or parent navigating the admissions process. Do you know what we always tell these reporters? No way! We’re disappointed IvyWise didn’t think to do the same. Mic drop.

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