Beware of bamboozlement!

When people talk about getting played, they are usually referring to a former significant other or internet scammers from Nigeria. But there’s another equally horrendous player out there: college counseling services.

College counseling services prey on vulnerable students hoping to achieve admittance to their dream school.

“College acceptance rates drop every year,” says one of my peers. “UC schools discriminate against California students,” says another. “It’s really just a game of chance,” says a Newbury Park alumni.

That’s where the college counselors come in: they promise an easy ride through the application process, support whenever you need it, and of course, a nice envelope with a college acceptance letter tucked inside by Springtime. Sounds too good to be true, right? I was determined to find out.

I decided to look for a college counselor myself. With a quick Google search, I was bombarded by testimonial after testimonial raving about how Counselor No. 1 had 30 years of experience with admissions, or about how Counselor No. 2 attended 3 different Ivy Leagues and served on admissions boards for each. Overwhelming much? The list went on and on. Not knowing where to start, I clicked on one that sounded reasonable and gave them my contact information.

I nervously awaited their call– no, not just because I hate talking on the phone– hoping that they would soon tell me they had, in fact, figured out the perfect algorithm to get me into college.

A few days later, the call came. After introductions and a run-down of the counselor’s experience, he began explaining what the counseling process would be like: “We try to make you unique, different and perfectly positioned for what they want. We tell you what to write your essays about and then edit them to perfection.”

So far so good– although I was irked by lack of authenticity.

“…For only $15,000!” he finished. I put the phone on mute while I reattached my dropped jaw. 15,000 dollars?! No thank you.

“Uhhh, I think I’ll have to get back to you,” I replied and hung up the phone.

Well, I was not even through the first page of search results — there must be something out there more reasonably priced, I thought. As I researched, the prices grew steeper. A $40,000 here and a $20,000 there.

Maybe I am just looking at this from the wrong angle, I thought. I changed my search to “College application help” and dozens of pages of guidance and support popped up — for free– with the same information the pricey counselors boasted about.

It’s easy to be sucked in by the lure of someone who promises just what you want to hear– especially when it feels like your future depends on it. College counselors make their living by preying upon the application process, offering some essay edits and supposed “insider information” which is easily available online. An English teacher could provide the same essay help just as well. Someone that has the best-interest of the student in mind should not be exercising in the practice of exploitation.

Seniors, try to remember to avoid the trifecta of players out there.

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