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The Rick Singer scams bring to mind the college consultants that "guarantee" admission into Ivy's.  Like the one put out by College Confidential -- "College Karma" which guarantees admission into one of your top two choices for $15K.

http://www.collegekarma.com/college_counseling/admission_guarantee.htm

You first have to have the stats, but then I still don't see how they can make that guarantee without (unethical) connections on the inside.  Am I missing something?

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There is a consultancy group in NZ that is incredibly successful getting kids in. They start early in high school and mold them into what Ivy's want.  We know one kid who has amazing stats, but the consultants also got him organized to create his own company to do non-profit work with under-priviledged kids. Would he have gotten into Harvard without this extra, who is to say, but clearly they know what they are about.  I'm sure that the guarantee includes money back, so if they get 80% in, and give back 20% of the money, they could still be profitable. I did notice that they don't have any success with MIT, so that made me feel better about the school my ds attends.  

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11 hours ago, rbk mama said:

The Rick Singer scams bring to mind the college consultants that "guarantee" admission into Ivy's.  Like the one put out by College Confidential -- "College Karma" which guarantees admission into one of your top two choices for $15K.

http://www.collegekarma.com/college_counseling/admission_guarantee.htm

You first have to have the stats, but then I still don't see how they can make that guarantee without (unethical) connections on the inside.  Am I missing something?

 

You are not missing something.  You are noticing unethical promises.

I would steer clear of any company that promises admission to particular schools. This violates the ethics guidelines of the major professional organizations in the field. 

Things about College Karma that raise red flags for me:

-They pick which students they offer the guarantee to after a stats review that they charge for.

-Of the 3 consultants listed, two formerly worked in admissions, which suggests they are familiar with NACAC and its ethics guidelines. None of the bios mention membership in any professional organization related to college admission. 

-The details of the offer give them lots of loopholes.  For example if you get waitlisted and accept another school's offer (even if the Ivy school historically waitlists many and takes in few or none from the waitlist).

-They overstate the cost of Independent Educational Consultant services. Yes there are very expensive consultants. There are also consultants who charge hourly rates similar to the cost of music lessons or driver training. 

Edited by Sebastian (a lady)
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I wanted to share info on some of the professional organizations that related to college consulting.  So far as I've seen in the news reporting and the released documents that I read, Rick Singer (from the bribery for admissions scandal) was not a member of these.

IECA - Independent Educational Consultants Association.  This group has three levels of membership, including a Student Membership for people who are taking courses that would prepare them for work as an IEC and an Associate Membership for IECs who are new to the field.  https://www.iecaonline.com/  [Disclosure: this is a group I am joining.]

IECA 12 Questions to Ask Before Hiring an Independent Educational Consultant https://www.iecaonline.com/quick-links/parents-students/what-is-an-independent-educational-consultant/12-questions-to-ask-before-hiring-an-independent-educational-consultant/

IECA 12 Warning Signs that an Independent Educational Consultant is Not Worth Hiring https://www.iecaonline.com/quick-links/parents-students/what-is-an-independent-educational-consultant/12-warning-signs-that-an-independent-educational-consultant-is-not-worth-hiring/  The company mentioned in the OP hits several of these warning signs.

HECA - Higher Education Consultants Association.  Similar to IECA.  Some consultants are members of IECA or HECA; some join both.  https://www.hecaonline.org/

NACAC - National Association of College Admissions Counseling.  This organization is mostly high school college admissions counselors and guidance counselors and members of  admissions staff at colleges.  This group puts on college fairs around the country.  It also has regional associations (ex. HACAC is the Hawaii Association of College Admissions Counseling).  Independent Educational Consultants can join, but many start with IECA and/or HECA.  https://www.hecaonline.org/

AICEP - American Institute of Certified Educational Planners.  Members of this group have passed a significant application and review process, that requires several years of experience, a lot of college campus visits, a 17 page application, professional references, and an assessment that is read by two different experienced readers.  http://www.aicep.org/  

There are other groups that can indicate a professional stance towards the field.  For example NCAG is the National College Advocacy Group.  They have a big focus on financial aid and understanding financial fit and the implications of financial aid offers (ex. it's not a "full ride" if the out of pocket annual cost is $0, but there are $20,000 annual Parent Plus loans).  https://www.ncagonline.org/

Full disclosure: I am taking classes from UC Irvine in their Certificate for Independent Educational Consulting.  I don't know if I will end up working with a Community Based Organization or setting up my own practice.  I do see that there is an information gap about transitioning from high school to college that ranges from deciding what colleges might be a good match, to getting through the application process, to figuring out financial fit and understanding financial aid offers.  I think IECs can be part of bridging that gap, in a similar way to hiring a personal trainer at the gym or hiring someone to prepare your taxes.  

 

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A line on Barbara Hettle's website struck me.  She observes that a consultant should lower your stress, not increase it.  Compare the way she talks about college to the point of view in the website in the OP.  

https://homeschoolsuccess.com/letter-to-parents/

This is the tone I watch for when I'm looking for college admissions blogs to follow.  Student centered, showing that they consider all students to be of value, not only the students who are accepted into prestige schools.

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I just read a funny anecdote about a guy who claimed to have an inside connection at Brown and would guarantee admission for a certain fee.  He took money from several students, knowing that some of them would get in.  Then he did absolutely nothing as he had no such connection.  He simply cashed the checks of those students who got in, and returned the others.  Made some decent money by doing nothing.  I guess these guarantees don't necessarily mean there are unethical connections (which 15K isn't really much for anyway). 

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On 3/17/2019 at 9:53 PM, rbk mama said:

The Rick Singer scams bring to mind the college consultants that "guarantee" admission into Ivy's.  Like the one put out by College Confidential -- "College Karma" which guarantees admission into one of your top two choices for $15K.

http://www.collegekarma.com/college_counseling/admission_guarantee.htm

You first have to have the stats, but then I still don't see how they can make that guarantee without (unethical) connections on the inside.  Am I missing something?

 

The link you put doesn’t work for me, but unless they have changed the guarantee, the wording is not that they guarantee you will get in, but that if don’t get in, you will be refunded their fee:

http://www.collegekarma.com/college_counseling/admission_guarantee.htm

“We GUARANTEE that, if the student isn't admitted into at least one of his or her IGAP candidate schools, our counseling fee will be refunded in full.”

 

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For more background info about Rick Singer, you can read more about his start in college counseling...and lying.  

Singer seemed to start innocently enough, in suburban Sacramento in the late 1990s. Margie Amott was a volunteer in the counseling department at Rio Americano High School where she remembers Singer offering his special services to parents.

“I’ve always thought of him as a master salesman,” said Amott, who went on to earn a credential in college counseling.

It didn’t take long, however, before she heard troubling tidbits about him. High school counselors would complain to her that he would encourage students to exaggerate on their applications, that he would promise parents he could get their teenagers scholarships and into certain schools.

“No ethical consultant will ever make a promise like that. But it was very appealing. Think of your own child,” Amott said. “If he says I can guarantee that, would you be a little interested in hearing it? Then you would see him and say, ‘How can you guarantee it?’, and he couldn’t. Now, with the bribes, I guess he could.”

High school counselors would tell her that he boasted about being hired by numerous universities, including Northwestern, as a “reader” to give initial reviews to thousands of applications.

“My colleague called Northwestern, and they had never heard of him,” she said. “He always implied he knew the secrets to college admissions. He was always talking about marketing and branding. Students are not boxes of cereal. I intensely disliked his approach.”

Singer’s rise in Sacramento and later in Newport Beach — as college counseling grew into a $2 billion a year industry — came in response to the growing competition at elite universities and California’s own crisis, where taxpaying Californians feel the squeeze for admission at their own schools. At college information nights, high school counselors try to convince parents that colleges are more interested in “well-rounded students” than perfect test scores. But still, parents spend tens of thousands of dollars on tutors, sports travel teams and summer expeditions to help orphans in Africa.

The desperation has intensified as college rankings have become sacrosanct and universities grovel for applicants — advertising no application fees or essays! — then reveal how many they rejected.

In this pressure-cooker climate — made worse in the highly educated Bay Area — can it be any surprise that parents are looking to goose their children’s chances of a golden ticket?

“I live in Cupertino where there’s a college prep center on every corner,” said Don Heider, executive director of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University. “All that’s coming from parents. It’s not healthy. It’s not helping anybody. You’re putting so much pressure on the student and sending the message that if you’re not at one of these five or 10 elite schools, you don’t have worth somehow.”

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On 3/18/2019 at 12:28 AM, lewelma said:

There is a consultancy group in NZ that is incredibly successful getting kids in. They start early in high school and mold them into what Ivy's want.  We know one kid who has amazing stats, but the consultants also got him organized to create his own company to do non-profit work with under-priviledged kids. Would he have gotten into Harvard without this extra, who is to say, but clearly they know what they are about.  I'm sure that the guarantee includes money back, so if they get 80% in, and give back 20% of the money, they could still be profitable. I did notice that they don't have any success with MIT, so that made me feel better about the school my ds attends.  

Hi there! I tried to send you a PM, lewelma but seems you can't receive messages. Inbox full? Thanks!

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