Legitimate college consultants step out of shadow of scandal to offer help for families

Posted March 21, 2021 6:43 p.m. EDT
Updated March 26, 2021 2:19 p.m. EDT

College acceptance season is in full swing, but the pandemic put the breaks on campus visits.

Brooke Daly, founder of Advantage College Planning, offers advice for parents and students trying to navigate an unusual admissions season.

Daly says the scandal that found wealthy, even celebrity, parents handing over millions of dollars to a man who inflated entrance exams, test scores and bribed college officials to get unqualified students in hurt those who are focused on counseling parents and students through the college admissions process.

"It did have a big impact, because I think it brought to light that these services are available, but that maybe there's a criminal element," Daly said.

"There's a big difference between Rick Singer, who claimed to be an educational consultant but was really a criminal, and the work that professional consultants actually do."

Daly's work includes helping families with college planning, building a college list, reviewing essays and helping mom and dad apply for financial aid.

She said a riding number of applicants is making the admission process more stressful.

"So many students are applying to so many schools that colleges are having a really tough conversations in the admissions offices, because they're getting, you know, in some cases they're up 50% in the number of applicants," she said.

Daly pointed out that picking a college with the most prestigious name may not always be the right fit.

"We know based on research students are not more successful based on the name on their diploma. It really is finding that academic fit, the social fit, the financial fit and getting that student to make connections on campus so that they can build a resume and ultimately find a job when they graduate," she said.

Daly believes universities can do a little more to help parents and students relieve the tension of this season.

"I think the transparency from the college side really would help in alleviating some of the stress for parents and students," she said.

"Operation Varsity Blues," a documentary is on the mastermind behind a scam to get kids of the rich and famous into top universities, is now streaming on Netflix.

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