College Admissions Scandal
As someone with extensive experience in test preparation and the college admissions process, I feel compelled to weigh-in regarding the recent admissions scandal in the US with the hope of setting the minds of some of our students and parents at ease . I am a long-time educator, educational psychologist, and owner of a local Denver company that provides, among other things, SAT/ACT test prep and college admissions advising, and, after 12+ years in this industry, I can say with confidence that the majority of private test prep and college admissions consultants operate with integrity and honesty.
What the perpetrators of this scandal did was unconscionable, particularly in light to today’s awareness of inequity in our systems and culture, and, in times like these, it’s easy for students and families to feel that “the game” is rigged. While our current college admissions process leaves plenty to be desired, most of us involved in both sides of the application process hold ourselves to a high set of ethical and professional standards, and parents and students should not let this scandal lead to a sense of discouragement. Though we have a long way to go in order to create a truly equitable college admissions process, there are many opportunities for families of all ethnicities and backgrounds to seek guidance and support.
Our schools, for one, work hard to provide helpful opportunities for students; our college counselors and post-secondary advisors are some of the most hard working and dedicated educators you can find. Students and parents should take full advantage of the myriad resources these counselors can provide, whether that’s meeting one on one, career counseling options, informational events, or other opportunities. Our schools offer a wide array of helpful services that our students can utilize.
Additionally, there are numerous non-profit organizations and other groups at our schools that often provide a wonderful set of resources for at-risk youth, many of which end up underutilized due to a number of factors: East Angels, Blue Sky Fund, I Have A Dream Foundation, and others that are working hard to “close the achievement gap.” I am proud to say that my staff and I have had many opportunities to work directly with such organizations and I encourage all students and families to talk to their counselors and administrators to learn more about these opportunities.
Furthermore, hard work goes a long, long way. Ultimately, those students and parents that are willing to put in the hard work will find that their efforts, more often than not, pay off. The ACT and SAT are not unknowable riddles that can only be overcome by either sheer ability or through cheating. I have personally provided test prep to hundreds of students, my staff to thousands, and I can tell you first hand that, with effort, these tests can be mastered, and, though it helps, you don’t have to hire an expert instructor in order to see results. The same can be said for the college application process. Utilizing free and/or inexpensive resources, dedicated, hard working students can achieve excellent scores and submit compelling and powerful applications.
In short, I encourage students and parents to keep a positive attitude and to continue to work hard toward their goals and dreams. While scandals like this will always exist in some form or another, the world and the opportunities it presents are stills yours to make.
Peak Learning Solutions