If you have a ninth grader and some extra cash after the collapse of the U.S. economy, you might consider hiring Dr. H, an independent college counselor. For $40,000 Dr. H will get your children on the right track for highly-selective schools. She will put them in quirky activities so that they will have a hook by the time the application process comes around. Then, during senior year, she will offer essay-writing help, including brainstorming and unlimited revisions.
In a recent NPR interview, Dr. H says that many parents, who think college prestige will give their kids a better life, seek out her services in today's difficult times: "How many newspaper articles do you read about the valectorian with the 1600 who did not get in?" she asked.
If you don't have 40 grand to spare or are starting late, your student can attend her 4-day application boot camp for only $14,000. Dr. H. claims that this experience is so invaluable that Dartmouth chose of one her boot camp attendee's essays as one of their six best essays of 2008. She acknowleges that if Dartmouth (where she used to work as an admissions counselor) had known she worked with the writer of the essay, they never would have posted it. In fact, even though she "preserved the student's voice", they might never have even accepted the student.
So not only does Dr. H. give invaluable guidance, hiring her is dangerous and exciting – On top of all the other senior year stresses, you have to keep your fingers crossed that nobody finds out you have a puppetmaster.
Here is the NPR interview with Michelle Hernandez. It also includes an interview with the head of admissions from the University of Chicago, who says that what Hernandez is doing ("retooling" essays and packaging clients) constitutes as "perpetrating a fraud". "Some of my best friends are independent counselors", he says. "They offer help, but they don't go too far."
At the very end of the segment, the NPR folks introduce two of their staffers, one who attended Yale and one who attended St. Olaf's, a school with no name recognition. Look, they say, these two ended up with the same exact job! So why are all you guys stressing?
With this in mind, the Neurotic Parent will be offering a special 3-day application bootcamp for parents, for the introductory rate of only $10,000. We will not divulge all of the pertinent information we are imparting, but one strategy will be to forget about those overrated top-20 schools that everyone is obsessed with. Instead, why not encourage your kids to apply to good schools like Cornell College in Iowa or Columbia College in Chicago? Admissions standards at these fine colleges are reasonable, and you can still say your kids attended Cornell or Columbia.