In news that does not bode well for high school seniors across the United States, college admissions are getting tougher than ever. Admission rates continue to plummet as schools are receiving more and more applications and, in turn, can be more selective about their acceptances. Competition at the top schools is so tough that many universities are saying they are turning away candidates with perfect SAT scores. Harvard, for example, had more than 30,489 applicants in 2009, a 10 percent increase from just two years ago. The result was a 6.9% acceptance rate. The story is the same at many colleges across the United States.
With such stiff competition parents and students are often left to wonder what more they can do. Joel S, a father of three from Brooklyn, NY says “if perfect SAT scores and being involved in a ton of extracurricular is not enough, what is? Does my son have to split the atom to get into Harvard?”
This confusion has left many turning to college admission advisors or consultants for help.
Four years ago, the Independent Educational Consultants Assn., a nonprofit in Fairfax, Va., estimated that some 22% of the freshmen at private, four-year colleges had used a college admissions consulting. These often expensive advisors promote themselves to students as their ticket into the Ivy League or other top colleges. But do they work?
Some applicants say yes, without a doubt. Michelle T, a student at Columbia University in New York, used the help of a college admissions advisor, along with her guidance counselor and teachers during her application season. “Without a doubt, the college admissions consultant was the most helpful person. My teachers were great, but the consultant really knew his stuff and helps me write an essay which a lot of people thought was great. They also knew all about the college and really helped with the little things,” Michelle says. Dr Sahil Mehta, President of HigherEdDoc which runs Ivy Help, the consulting firm that Michelle hired, agrees.
“Getting admission to your dream college is not an easy task. In these difficult times, when there is cutthroat competition in every field, you mayneed help making your application great. In such a scenario, it becomes very important to seek professional’s services to get through the admission process” Dr Mehta says.
The admissions advisors seem to offer help with everything from selecting the schools to apply to, brainstorming and editing a personal statement or common application essay, and interview preparation. Some even help with writing letters to appeal a wait-list decision.
The cost associated with these packages is often high, running anywhere from $150 per hour to up to $1000 per hour. Many companies have “unlimited packages” where costs can run as high as $50,000 for these advisors to help students with their application. Ivy Help says it charges around $150 per hour and has several packages that students and their families can choose from.