November 06, 2020
BY GERALD M. BRADSHAW
Bradshaw College Consulting
Dear Mr. Bradshaw,
My husband and I have three children in grades nine through 12 and know a number of parents who have hired a college consultant to work with their children.
I am aware that there are several high-profile scandals involving the rich and famous and their efforts to ensure that their children garner admission at top colleges, but our friends are pleased at the coaching and study techniques that their children are learning from their consultants.
Consultants and tutors were not a part of the picture when I was applying to college. When did this practice begin and what are the benefits of the association?
Advice: Hiring A College Consultant
While there is no “official” history linked to the college consultant profession, I have a theory based on my 20 years of experience in the field.
The main reason that parents hire a college consultant is because the competition for admission gets tougher each year. The difference between when you were preparing for college and today is that there have been more international students competing for a seat at the table. Many of these students come from countries where hiring consultants to prepare for college has been a practice for decades and where families spend thousands of dollars on consultants to prepare their children for college entrance exams.
It remains to be seen how the COVID crisis will affect the international admissions numbers and whether or not that competition will continue to exist.
Japan has long been known for its “cram schools” or “juku.” Free compulsory education in Japan only extends through junior high or middle school and families have to pay tuition and fees of as much as $3,000 for public high school. Private schools cost even more. Parents who want to give their children an edge for the better schools turn to consultants to provide assistance.
China, Korea and India also are major users of tutors. The pressure is on these students to score well on exams to have a chance to attend a top college and, eventually, have a successful career.
Many American parents are familiar with the Japanese term “Salaryman” which came from the economic model built after World War II. 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. Some students study up to 90 hours a week, with the goal being high scores on college 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 the college they attend frequently determines their future job placement.
Americans, although many may not be aware of it, have experienced a revolution in the way students prepare for college. The prep often starts in preschool and moves on to private coaching and college consultants who prepare students for the SAT and tutor them in writing and leadership skills.
A spokesman for a major university in the United States, said that because of the shortage of economic resources in many of our schools, there is a need for tutors or consultants to help students navigate the increasingly difficult college admissions process. There are more than 2,500 four-year colleges and universities to choose from nationwide and admission to these colleges can be complicated. At top-tier schools, it is expected that students use consultants in test preparation, to help with their essays and the application process.
Gerald Bradshaw is a top US college admissions consultant with Bradshaw College Consulting.
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