Should a private admissions counselor also be able to work for a school or college?
To many who work in college admissions, the obvious answer is No, while others say that the practice is more commonplace and less (or more) dangerous than others assume. The practice came to light because of a controversy over a University of Pennsylvania admissions officer’s various private counseling roles — and the realization that the main organizations of college admissions officers and private counselors didn’t have a specific ban on the practice. Partly as a result, the National Association for College Admission Counseling now has a special working group considering whether tougher standards on conflicts of interest are needed for the field.
It turns out, however, that there is one, relatively new association of private counselors — focused on professional school admissions — that does ban double dipping.The Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants
started accepting members only last year and has about 40 of them. But the association, whose members are private counselors, many of them focused on business school admissions, specifically bans them from simultaneously working for an institution of higher education...
Linda Abraham, president of the association and also of a private counseling business called Accepted.com, said that the group wants to be very clear about the philosophy behind its ban. “You can’t have two masters when their interests may be in conflict,” she said. “As an adviser to applicants, we have to try to have one employer, the applicant.”
As a member of AIGAC, I am proud to be a part of an organization that advocates purely on behalf of applicants. I wish that others operated with the same level of ethical clarity that we do.
Clearly there is significant work to be done to make educational institutions ethically accountable and transparent in their operations. PENN's administration, in particular, should be required to take a long hard look at itself and make the necessary changes to its admissions staff and/or policies. Given that Wharton has professors of business ethics on staff, one would hope that an internal ethical audit would be conducted.
While it is fine for professional associations like mine to set high standards, this would not even be an issue if the major national higher education associations like GMAC did so. All applicants should have their applications read by staff who do not have potential conflicts of interest and it is the responsibility of the universities themselves as well as GMAC and other similar authorities to guarantee that.
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