NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Schools Turn to Professional Firms for College Counseling

September 7, 1999

A growing number of public schools are engaging private firms to advise high school students on how to select and then apply successfully to the college of their choice. Traditionally, those tasks have been the province of school guidance counselors.

  • The trend is most prevalent in California, although schools in Michigan, Illinois and Missouri are involved -- with schools in more than half a dozen other states considering using the private firms.
  • Public schools have been delegating select administrative duties to private companies for several years -- be it managing their custodial staffs or providing a pool of substitute teachers.
  • But with many counselors having caseloads of 1,000 students or more, schools are now turning to outside help.
  • Achieva, a fledgling counseling firm founded by two Harvard University graduates, assists students in researching particular colleges and even conducts mock interviews -- allowing students to play the roles of admissions officers trying to decide which applicants to admit.

In fact, the firms pride themselves on preparing students for the College Boards and guiding them through every aspect of the college admissions process -- services which only the wealthiest of parents had been able to afford in the past.

Source: Jacques Steinberg, "Schools Ceding College Placement to Consultants," New York Times, September 7, 1999.

 

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