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Panel of Experts

Karl Schellscheidt

SAT Prep Expert

  • BSE, Princeton University '90
  • M.A., Secondary Education Seton Hall University '93
  • J.D., University of Pennsylvania Law School '00

Fred Hargadon

Dean of Admission

  • Swarthmore College
    (1964-1969)
  • Stanford University
    (1969-1984)
  • Princeton University
    (1988-2003)

Don Betterton

Financial Aid Expert

  • Director of Financial Aid, Princeton University (1973-2006)
  • Certified College Planner
  • Principal, Betterton College Planning

Seamus Malin

Admission Expert

  • Harvard University
    Dir. of Financial Aid
    (1966-1977)
    Asst. Dean of Admission
    (1977-1987)
    International Office Director
    (1987-2002)

The “Professionalization” of College Admissions

Eric Barnes

college admissions expert advice from eprep.comThere’s a lot of discussion these days at what I’ll call the “professionalization” of college admissions. Twenty years ago, a college degree was considered somewhat special and a hard earned right of passage into the workforce. Today, you’re behind the curve if you don’t ultimately achieve some sort of graduate school education. This dynamic has placed a greater sense of urgency on today’s high school students (and their concerned parents) on getting into the best college possible. To address this trend, entrepreneurs and corporations have rapidly created a major industry of test prep and college planning services. The spectrum of college admission options extends from a $20 SAT prep book to $30,000 for the full treatment that includes one-on-one help with everything from essays to extracurricular activities. Some would argue that this “pay to play” system favors wealthy kids at the expense of students from low income families. While it certainly skews the advantage toward students whose families can afford these services, there remain clear paths to college admissions success for those willing to work hard even without financial resources. See our video on preparing for the SAT test for under $25 as one example.

This leads me to this gem of a video recently posted on YouTube, which lampoons this professionalization of admissions. Entitled “Saplan Test Prep Course” (mocking the well known test-prep firm Kaplan), the video ridicules the college-planning corporate-machine that can deliver your college dreams, but at what cost? That is a subjective question….

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