This week USA Today recently ran an article about a test tutor from New Zealand who built a business at age 17. It’s founder claims that it has grown to much more. Crimson Education, a firm that assists international students with essay and test prep, supposedly raised $20 million and grew in market value to $260 million. They claim that they have helped all of their clients gain admission to a first-choice school.
Many test tutors in the US and abroad promise high scores, or that your scores will rise dramatically from the first time you take a standardized test. But promising admissions to college is a very different story. Aside from colleges that openly state that they will admit anyone who has the requisite grades and/or scores, no one can make such promises.
There’s more information about colleges and college admissions available online than ever before. This includes guides like EducatedQuest.com, data sources, parents forums and more. It is quite possible to use free services and the help of your school counselor to guide you through the admissions process. Is your flagship state university or regional public college your first choice? You might also get good advice from the admissions officers at the school itself! You might need a test tutor to help achieve a minimum score. But you will not need to spend $5,000 or more, as Crimson Education charges, to help raise your test scores and navigate the college admissions process.
Selective admissions take time and effort on the part of students and their families. Many families ask for help, from a school counselor and an independent advisor. A college or academic program with a low acceptance rate must screen applicants more thoroughly. That might require more essays or graded papers, and sometimes portfolios or auditions for the artistically gifted. Those who enter this process intent on success look at the extra work as a challenge to be won. Look at the work as a chore, and you are less likely to succeed.
Aside from testing and writing tips, what else can the ‘coach’ from a firm like Crimson Education do?
Probably nothing: that person has never researched colleges or academic programs, other than the ones that s/he was considering. S/he does not visit colleges, as school counselors and professional college admissions advisors do. We have to learn about colleges, careers, curricula, campus communities, costs and financial aid, even education policy and economics. Our job is not to “get people into a college.” It’s to help them to find a school where they are most likely to succeed. Sometimes that school will have extremely selective admissions. Other times it will not. But it will have everything that student wants from a college.
College admissions advising is not an entry level job for a recent graduate. Nor is it a part-time gig for a college student. It is a serious responsibility on behalf of a student and their family. We are asked to help them consider the largest expense that they will ever make in their life. They trust us to find the college that will be with their children for life.
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