College counseling is a mess. On average, each public high school guidance counselor advises 457 students a year.
On the other hand, rich students pay up to $25,000 for private college counselors, who can give them precious 1:1 attention.
Private college counseling creates massive inequalities in college accessibility. It restricts social mobility by giving rich students an unfair advantage in getting accepted into top tier schools.
Among the most famous of these consultants, Michele Hernandez, charges around $40,000 for her services. For the same price as one year of college tuition, what do clients actually get out of this? According to BusinessWeek, "She selects classes for students, reviews their homework, and prods them to make an impression on teachers. She checks on the students' grades, scores, rankings. She tells parents when to hire tutors and then makes sure the kids do the extra work. She vets their vacation schedules. She plans their summers."
All this for $40,000, while other students are competing with 456 other students for a few minutes of attention with their high school guidance counselor. What we're seeing is the gilded age of education, where the rich and powerful are able to perpetuate their influence by getting an advantage into elite schools.
That's why today we've launched the new CampusSplash. It's a question and answer platform which allows prospective students to ask questions about thousands of colleges, grad schools, majors and educational programs. These questions are then answered by current students, experts, admission officers and alumni.
What we need is a three-pronged solution. We need foundations to continue to support college accessibility, schools and communities to invest in college counseling, and technology to innovate. We're doing our part; now it's time to do yours!
Allen Gannett is the co-founder of CampusSplash, a questions and answer website dedicated to giving all students complete information about colleges and grad schools.