The banality of the late-breaking college admissions scandal and the assorted bad actors that participated in it is revealed in the court affidavit. One applicant was touted as being 6’2” and a star on his high school basketball team, when actually he was only 5’5” and never even played the game. Parents sent tax-deductible payments to the consultant’s “charity” as a method of laundering funds. One parent was informed that “Igor,” the man who was set to take the SAT for her child, had to reschedule because he had just become a dad himself.
The scandal is so rife with absurd details that it would be easy to overlook the seriousness of the issues that underlie it. The indictments charge that an admissions consultant, his willingly participating clients, and an assortment of insider abettors gamed the admissions system in the wrong way, which is to say, an illegal way. Such a circumstance is rare but not unique.
Top-tier institutions have already begun to reexamine their holistic admissions practices to remedy the flaws that make them so porous and open to fraud. While such remedies are in the works, our focus at IvySelect is to make you, as parents and students, fully aware of the strict ethics, not to mention legality, of our approach to college admissions consulting.
If you’re asking, “Do elite colleges favor the wealthy in admissions?” the answer is, well, yes. The progeny of the wealthy and prominent members of the establishment have and always have had a sizable advantage in admissions to elite colleges. But not in the nefarious ways seen in the ongoing scandal. Such families can pay for standardized test tutoring, first-rate admissions consultants, and expensive extracurricular activities. They can often also rely on their legacy and/or major donor status. But, even given the unevenness of the playing field in admissions, there is still a right way and a wrong way to navigate the system. At IvySelect, we perform admissions consulting services the right way—ethically and legally.
IvySelect is a proud member of the three premiere professional associations in our field: the Higher Education Consultants Association (HECA), the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA), and the National Association of College Admissions Consultants (NACAC). On behalf of IvySelect and all other members, these three associations have addressed the issues surrounding the scandal through press releases. Abbreviated versions of these releases are provided below.
PAY FOR PLAY IS INDEFENSIBLE FOR COLLEGE ADMISSIONS PROFESSIONALS
The Higher Education Consultants Association (HECA), a professional organization of independent educational consultants, reacts to the breaking news of a widespread college admissions scandal by urging families to do their homework before working with independent educational consultants.
The Higher Education Consultants Association has a two-fold mission:
- Support students and parents during the transition from high school to college, with a commitment to equity and access to higher education for all students.
- Advance professional, ethical conduct, and standards for the profession of college admissions consulting.
To fulfill both parts of our organizational mission, all members agree to abide by HECA’s Standards and Ethics Statement for members. The Statement is based on four core values: sound advising, integrity, respect, and confidentiality.
IECA STRESSES ETHICS AND PERSONAL FIT TO GUIDE STUDENTS IN CHOOSING A COLLEGE
The Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA) and its members are committed to helping families find the most appropriate college for their students, and assisting families in navigating the application process. Following a comprehensive code of ethics, IECA members are professionals who understand and adhere to high ethical standards in all their interactions with clients and institutions and are compensated by and work exclusively on behalf of their client families.
In response to the breaking news of an FBI probe and Justice Department charges for 50 people—college officials from elite institutions, wealthy parents, coaches, and others—in a long-running admissions bribery scheme, IECA CEO Mark Sklarow said, “The charges presented today exemplify the
Intense anxiety that even some wealthy parents feel about their children being admitted to their preferred colleges.”
Parents and students should keep the following advice in mind as they begin their college search.
- The college search and application process should be a fun and exciting time for students and their families. If anyone in any setting is exerting pressure or causing undue anxiety, be cautious. If you are told someone has “inside” information, can pull strings, provide shortcuts to admission, or give you a special advantage (for a fee or otherwise), you are being misled.
- There are many great postsecondary options for every student, and no student should be made to feel that they must become something they are not to get accepted. The “best” school is the school that fits a student academically, socially, and financially. Being and presenting one’s authentic self and demonstrating one’s own talents and abilities is a way of ensuring the right college fit. This is central to what an ethical independent educational consultant does.
- The vast majority of admissions officers, school counselors, and IECs are ethical and compassionate professionals who dedicate their careers to advising students and families.
If you decide to seek help with the college search and application process outside of the school setting, ensure that you hire someone who is a member of a professional organization, such as IECA or NACAC, that requires them to abide by the highest ethical standards. A fully vetted independent educational consultant will be solely concerned about an individual student’s well being and helping to gain admission to a school where they will thrive and succeed on their own merits.
NACAC URGES RECOMMITMENT TO INTEGRITY IN WAKE OF COLLEGE ADMISSION SCAM
The National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) urged its members today to redouble their commitment to integrity within the college admission process following news reports of efforts by wealthy individuals to get their children into selective colleges and universities as part of a long-running cheating scam.
“This is an unfortunate example of the lengths to which people will go to circumvent and manipulate the college admission process, particularly to gain admission to highly selective colleges,” Stefanie Niles, NACAC president and vice president for enrollment and communications at Ohio Wesleyan University, said of the allegations, calling them an “extreme response to the commodification of the college admission process—one that is focused on college acceptance as an end unto itself.”
The alleged crimes included cheating on entrance exams, as well as bribing college officials to say certain students were coming to compete on athletic teams when those students were not in fact athletes, according to The Washington Post. “The criminal complaint paints an ugly picture of high-powered individuals committing crimes to get their children into selective schools.”
“Admission and counseling professionals understand and have valued ethical behavior as stated in our Code of Ethics and Professional Practices for well over 80 years,” Niles said. “We strive to ensure that all students are treated equitably throughout the process.”
Periodicals often seek out Michael Goran, IvySelect’s Founder and Director, for his valued insight into the college admissions field. Recently, the Daily Pennsylvanian asked him about the scandal for two articles regarding the scandal. These articles are included under “About Us” on the menu at the top of this page under the “In the News” section.
You, as a family, work with IvySelect, you not only receive sector expertise but also caring attention. We are specialists who understand the unique needs and goals of high-achieving students who aspire to attend Ivy League and similarly elite institutions. The thorough knowledge, skills, and experience that we bring to your admissions campaign provide you with the best college consulting guidance you can find.