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“I do the help that I can, but I say to the parents, ‘You know, you did not prepare her for this. Because obviously, the skills necessary to be at Columbia—she doesn’t have those skills.”The Daily Beast reached out to numerous college planning and tutoring programs and the National Association for College Admissions Counseling, but none responded to requests to discuss their policies on editing versus rewriting.The American Association of College Registrars and Admissions Officers also declined comment, and top universities such as Harvard, Yale, Princeton, the University of Pennsylvania, Cornell, Dartmouth, and Brown did not respond or declined comment on how they guard against essays being written by counselors or tutors.
I mean there were the bare workings of a narrative here—even the grasp on English is tenuous,” he said.
“I think that, you know, being able to read and write in English would be kind of a prerequisite for an American university.
For the ultra-rich, big contributions might get their name on a science building and their offspring a spot at a top-tier school—an option California Gov.
Gavin Newsom recently called “legal bribery.” Even the moderately wealthy can grease the admissions process with extensive SAT tutoring or, more problematically, college application essay editing.
He conceded, however, that the rules were not always followed: “Bottom line is: It takes more time for an employee to sit with a student and help them figure things out for themselves, than it does to just do it.
We had problems in the past with people cutting corners.
In interviews with The Daily Beast, eight college application tutors shed light on the economy of editing, altering, and, at times, outright rewriting personal statements.
The essay editors, who agreed to speak on the condition of anonymity since many still work in their field, painted the portrait of an industry rife with ethical hazards, where the line between helping and cheating can become difficult to draw.
In the admissions process, there’s a high premium on the personal statement, a 500-word essay submitted through the Common Application, about some foible or lesson, which aims to give readers a better sense of the student than, say, a standardized test score.
More than one university and advising blog rank the essay among the “most important” aspects of the process; one consultant writing in described it as “the purest part of the application.” But while test scores are completed by the student alone—barring bribed proctors, that is—any number of people can alter an essay before submission, opening it up to exploitation and less-than-pure tactics at the hands of helicopter parents or expensive college-prep counselors who cater to the 1 percent.