• Rebecca Eckstein, MA, CEC

Behind the Scenes in College Admission


My apologies for beginning this blog a little miffed. I am trying to be polite. I am furious. Rick Singer has caused all of us, guidance counselors, educational consultants, students, and families an enormous amount of pain. And, today it just got better when the Wall Street Journal posted an article about how elite high schools discourage families from using independent educational consultants because we might get in the way and we confuse students. I am sorry, I don't think of myself as annoying to high school guidance counselors. And, I know I am transparent with students. I might even "talk the family off the proverbial cliff" and eliminate some of the college planning pain.


We all got into this business to help students, or so I thought. I have over 27 years in college and independent school admissions. I have chaired so many admission committees that I could do it in my sleep, and I can tell you that ethics are always necessary to admit the best students fairly and equitably. Now, after retiring, I assist families in the process, and again ethics are essential when communicating the hard facts to families. I like to sleep at night, in my bed, not in a jail cell, so I do the right thing. The guidance counselors at all of the high schools should be lucky to have us out there, aligning our messages with their truths! If I am unsure what a high school counselor would or might say, I check into it before I make assumptions. I believe from reading the list serves for HECA that my colleagues are also as professionally-minded so this article put a bad taste in my mouth as it stated, "The college counseling department strongly discourages securing outside counseling." Believe, me there is plenty of counseling to go around, so to discourage retired Vice Presidents for Enrollment with continued education to step back and leave all of the advice to the high schools is simple-minded. Families come to us distraught and frantic at times. Why would we not encourage as much assistance as a family can muster? It is certainly not what we teach our children: get a second opinion, check your facts, use data to support your analysis, etc. We use outside counseling and coaching for a variety of issues throughout our lives. I choose to seek out many opinions. I recently had a family that hired two independent consultants. They wanted a third opinion. I was not offended, so why are the guidance counselors in the schools offended when we offer to help and slightly reduce their caseload. It gives them more time to work with the student who doesn't have as many choices.


Families feel shunned if they seek outside help. They have to keep "me" a secret. Really! I remember a time when I advised parents not to pay for outside assistance, but that was long before the state and Federal government cut budgets and delayed hiring. Caseloads in high schools are enormous, even some of the independent schools in Atlanta such that my students say, "They can't even get into the college counseling office." The world has changed, and the process has become more and more competitive and daunting for these families. They only want the very best for their children. I have known college presidents who sought outside assistance for their children's college search. Shouldn't we be more worried about the families that don't begin the process until their senior year? Independent educational consultants are here to help except people like Rick Singer and his alleged band of thieves.


My blood pressure went up even more when one of the counselors interviewed said she could not help her student because she was unclear about what he had submitted because he was working with an outside counselor. You can always assist a student. It is a choice!

I own Admission Network, LLC, in metro-Atlanta. I am a parent of two highly educated adult sons who needed lots of help along the way, and I am not ashamed to admit it. I thank those people everyday. I have 27+ years in college and independent school admissions, and I have assisted students in public, private, small liberal arts, religious, and Division I athletics. I have served on the US Presidential Scholarship Committee, and I have appeared on a Reality TV Show, "College Hunt USA." I serve as an educational consultant and coach to help students and their families navigate the daunting terrain of independent school and college/university admission so that they can achieve their dreams with just a little less confusion and stress. I have been on both sides of the desk so I understand how much angst and worry goes into this process and it doesn't always end well without a village of people to help. For more information: go to www.AdmissionNetwork.org. I work with families virtually everywhere. I will not falsely advertise students as members of a crew team, or pay someone to adjust a test score, but I will go to bat for them (no pun intended), and advise and counsel them as necessary. It is my choice!

College Hunt USA graduate

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