Admissions consulting -- should I do it, and if so, anonymously?
January 18, 2010 2:48 PM   Subscribe

Admissions consulting -- is it a good idea to start doing it? Should I try to be anonymous?

I'm trying to pay off a bunch of student loans from some fancy universities and I'm considering doing admissions/SAT consulting -- you know advice, essay editing, etc. Do you think this is a good idea? Is it possible to do ethically?

Do you think I should (or can) do this anonymously? Would it be bad for my professional reputation if I did it under my own name and it was easy to search for? (I won't specify the field here, but suffice to say I am considering starting my own business in an unrelated area and don't want to dilute my brand or make myself look too weird.) If it were under another name, do you think I could get admissions consulting clients?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (2 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
A few thoughts:

I have worked for a test prep company and I'm acquainted with the ad consulting end of the business. The test prep that I worked for had 2 rungs of admissions consultants - most were existing admissions officers working on the side (I saw the internal documents - these were paper pushers and up from good schools) who worked with people via email and phone and the lower rung were "in house" and merely successful people who had gotten into good schools and had an advanced degree. No one had just a BA or even an MA. We're talking PhD, JD, MD, etc.

Ethically:
- You need to be okay with the fact that some of your clients will be lazy rich kids. By helping them, you're "taking" a spot from a kid further down the ladder that can't afford admissions consulting.
- Many of the parents, IME, are a huge pain in the ass. For every 1 that is just confused, there are 9 that are assholes.
- It isn't a 1+2=3 equation, admissions... there are a lot of factors and your guess might be better than someone else's, but having a business based on a crap shoot is a little dangerous, IMHO. This is where the people that actually work in admissions would have a huge advantage over you.

Other things to consider:
- Nowadays there are hundreds of online communities designed to help people get into different programs and even do essay help FOR FREE. That's cutting into the business, for sure.
- How are you going to network into the schools? Word-of-mouth is EVERYTHING with high school parents and staff. (The test prep company that I worked for could track the effect of 1 bad SAT prep class.) You'd probably have to work for almost nothing to build up a rep or at least offer free help to a few well networked parents.


If I were you, I'd try to work with an established admissions consulting company to learn the business. MeMail me if you have any questions.
posted by k8t at 3:39 PM on January 18, 2010


I do this work on the side, under my own name, but for an established company. I did it to bring in extra money after my MBA and it's been a great experience. I have made more money than I expected, and am even considering quitting my "day job" to pursue my own business and living on my income from this "side job".

My company is part of AIGAC (http://www.aigac.org/) which promotes ethical standards in the industry. I do not feel that there is anything unethical about what we do, and in many cases it helps people who are not great communicators, but are very qualified, get to the school of their dreams.

There is a vast array of companies that require different levels of education and experience in admissions. Some people just hold advanced degrees, others have experience working in admissions, and most are very strong writers and communicators.

I'd suggest working in grad admisions as it pays better and you are not dealing with parents at all. The clients can be difficult, but are just as often quite lovely.
posted by rainydayfilms at 5:10 PM on February 22, 2010


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