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Sunday, November 27, 2016

Dear Mr. Bradshaw,



My husband and I have three children in grades nine through 12. We know parents who have hired college consultants to work with their children. Is this a growing trend? I never heard of this when I was seeking college admission. When did this practice begin?

Signed,

Parent

College consultants a growing resource for today's students



Dear Parent,

There is no "official" history linked to college consultants, but I have a theory based on over 20 years of experience in the field.

The main reason parents hire college consultants is because the competition for admission gets tougher each year. The difference between when you were preparing for college and today is that there are more international students competing for a seat at the table and more high school students feel the pressure to obtain a college degree.

Many of the international students come from countries where hiring consultants to prepare for college has been a practice for years. A number of these students are from Asia, where families spend thousands of dollars on consultants to prepare their children for college entrance exams.

In Japan, the tutoring efforts are called "cram schools." China, Korea and India are also major users of consultants. The pressure is on these students to score well on exams to have a chance to attend a top college in the United States or in their country and prepare them for a successful career.

Many American parents are not familiar with the Japanese term "Salaryman." These employees work long hours and dedicate their lives to their companies. This dedication develops, in part, because as young students, they attended "cram schools" after their regular classes and full time on weekends. Many students study up to 90 hours a week, with the goal of scoring well on admissions tests.

A student from Japan who attends a top American prep school had an interesting perspective on the difference between the undergraduate experiences of students in America and those in Japan who attend well-respected colleges.

He said: "In America, one's college years are seen as a time to expand your knowledge and prepare for the professional world. In Japan, the prestige and history of a college frequently determines a person's job placement.

"Once a student has been accepted by a top Japanese university, they are relieved from the stress of attending 'cram schools' and decide to party during the entirety of their undergraduate years. They know that the reputation of their school will play a decisive role in their future job placement, and they lose the incentive to perform well and reach their full potential."

Americans, although many may not know it, are experiencing a true revolution in the way students prepare for college. It now starts in preschool and moves on to private coaching and college consultants who help to prepare students for the SAT and tutor them in study, writing and leadership skills. At top schools, it is expected that students use consultants in test preparation and to help with their essays.

The shortage of economic resources in our high schools has also generated a need for consultants to help students navigate the increasingly difficult admissions process.

While you know best what your child's needs are, a college consultant can assist you in navigating the varied mix of admissions factors that are often difficult for parents to understand. A consultant can help your child find schools that will deliver a top-drawer college experience for an affordable price, make their essays portray them in a positive light and simplify the application process.

Gerald Bradshaw is an international college admission consultant with Bradshaw College Consulting in Crown Point.


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