Ellen Gaddie, San Clemente

Herman Sillas’ portrayal of college consultants as con artists in the April 11-17 edition of the San Clemente Times is uninformed. Legitimate consultants are nothing like college scandal creator William Singer, whose alleged actions and those of his clients and accomplices were reprehensible.
Like countless colleagues, I belong to the Higher Education Consultants Association, Independent Educational Consultants Association, National Association for College Admission Counseling, and Western Association of College Admission Counseling, and I hold a Certificate in College Consulting from University of California, Irvine.

Common to each organization are three areas members uphold: 1. an obligation to ethically help students and families navigate the college admissions process; 2. a commitment to assisting underserved students through community-based organizations, charitable giving, or pro-bono service to increase equity and access to higher education; and 3. a never-ending responsibility to educate ourselves by attending professional conferences, college admissions briefings and touring multiple colleges every year at our own expense. At any time, a colleague could report me for unethical behavior and my association membership would be canceled.

My clients come from all socio-economic backgrounds; some are first-generation, college-bound students, some are not, and some are pro bono. I am not in the business of packaging students for certain colleges, nor do I guarantee or “assist” with acceptance to any school—elite or not. Beware of those who do. I help students manage the process and find schools that are a good fit for them.

Gaining admission to a UC requires much more than it did 25 years ago. Applicants are holistically reviewed, meaning essays (four), test scores, GPA, rigor of coursework and extracurricular activities are considered within the context of the environment and opportunities students have available to them. All of that, including whether or not a student fills an institutional need at a UC campus, means it’s even harder to guess who will gain admission.

I am sickened by the college scandal news and hope the legal system will deliver just punishment to those who committed these crimes. But to lump all college consultants with the likes of Singer is not what we deserve. We act with integrity.

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