Ivy Experts

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You know what would be great? If some college students could tell anxious high school kids all about college. This is just what the world needs. According to a piece by Caralee Adams in Education Week, our prayers are answered:

We can give students all the advice we want about the college-application process, but what they really listen to are other students.

Now, a group of 45 students at Ivy League schools are offering their services as mentors to college-bound students through a new website called IvyAlly. Some of the advice is free; some requires a fee.

Oh no. Oh dear God no.

Now these sorts of places, these Ivy-League-students-will-use-their-Ivy-League-smarts-to-get-your-kid-into-college admissions advice and tutoring companies, are not at all uncommon. But Ivy Ally says it’s different. According to the organization:

Our vision is to level the playing field in the college admissions process and ensure that it shifts from one that favors students who can afford professional advice to one that rewards students who can genuinely contribute to learning, service and leadership at the college level.

Oh, I see, so it’s all about the children? Ivy Ally offers blog posts, weekly chats, and a mentoring program that connects high school students with current college students (at a ten to one ratio). If parents want to pay money (this is where it gets weird) they can get individual conversations with college students and essay critiques.

The trouble with this vision is that it’s not at all clear that the college admissions process actually favors students who “can afford professional advice.” Are students more likely to be admitted to their top schools when they hire “experts” to help them along? Nobody knows. In fact, the admission process seems mostly to favor those who profess to be able to offer that “professional advice.” This whole Ivy Ally thing seems to look like just some resume builder organization for the college students who work there.

There are no mysterious clues to Ivy League admissions. It’s just really good grades and SAT scores and a pretty good essay. The actual decision has a lot to do with what the applicant pool looked like that year.

I suppose it’s worth a try though. Certainly Ivy Ally seems to be dramatically cheaper than a lot of the college counseling services currently available. Nothing indicates it’s more effective, however. [Image via]

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer