The Ivy Dean, an admissions consulting service founded by Drusilla Blackman, former Dean of Admissions at Harvard and Columbia, is making headlines in higher education this week with a new online course designed to help students secure spots in top colleges.
Chase Staub, an admissions coach for The Ivy Dean writes in The Huffington Post, that the course was born out of a need to help disadvantaged students, “without access to expert help,” to navigate the growing complexity of college admissions. The Ivy Dean’s “Online Admissions Course” presents itself as a solution to this problem, however, we believe admissions coaching services only perpetuate the problem.
Admissions consultants and coaches have developed their own niche market, catering to applicants’ desperation to get into top schools. However, they’re contributing to further inequality in college admissions, giving those who can afford to hire help an edge over applicants who cannot.
The issue with admissions is not one that should be solved by admissions consultants and coaches, it’s one that needs to be solved by schools. This niche has formed out of a dated, overly complex, and unclear admissions process that favors well-to-do, privileged applicants.
In its current state, many ivy league admissions criteria give preference to applicants who can lean on family connections for opportunities (like internships, volunteer trips, and summer jobs) that build their resumes, or legacy preference on applications. These applicants are able to take more time off from work to study for standardized tests and can also afford to take these test a higher number of times. With consultants and coaches, the gap widens further, adding another barrier of cost and time commitment that disadvantages applicants in lower socioeconomic standing.
You should never need to take a class to learn how to apply for higher education. Colleges and universities need to stand back and take a critical look at their admissions practices and ask why getting into their programs is more challenging than excelling in them.