We came across an article in “Business Week” entitled “How to Get Into an Ivy League College — Guaranteed” by Peter Waldman that we figured we’d share with our loyal readers. The article focuses on a 36 year-old former hedge fund analyst in the Bay Area with no college admissions credentials to speak of who works on incentive. And what kind of incentive? Read here:
As written in “Business Week,” “[Steven] Ma also writes ‘custom contracts,’ like the one he struck with the Hong Kong CEO for his wayward son in Utah. The father agreed to participate in this article, and authorized Ma to release their signed agreement, on the condition no family member was named. His son, he explains, doesn’t know how much he paid Ma; the dad worries the truth might hurt the boy’s self-esteem. He feels guilty that he didn’t spend more time with his son growing up. He was too busy running his business; hiring Ma, he says, was his compensation to his son. ‘They were desperate,’ says Ma. After signing an agreement in May 2012, the family wired Ma $700,000 over the next five months—before the boy had even applied to college. The contract set out incentives that would pay Ma as much as $1.1 million if the son got into the No. 1 school in U.S. News’ 2012 rankings. (Harvard and Princeton were tied at the time.) Ma would get nothing, however, if the boy achieved a 3.0 GPA and a 1600 SAT score and still wasn’t accepted at a top-100 college. For admission to a school ranked 81 to 100, Ma would get to keep $300,000; schools ranked 51 to 80 would let Ma hang on to $400,000; and for a top-50 admission, Ma’s payoff started at $600,000, climbing $10,000 for every rung up the ladder to No. 1.”
We are not going to criticize Mr. Ma’s choice to work on incentive. That’s his choice as a business owner, as an entrepreneur in a free market. But we are dubious why folks would pay for a hedge fund manager to help their son or daughter gain admission to a highly selective college. What genuine experience in highly selective college admissions exactly does he have? Not much from what we can see.
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