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Everyone hears about how elite colleges have more applicants than they need with perfect grade point averages and near-perfect SATs, he said. (Surveys of college admissions officers by the National Association for College Admission Counseling have found that essays do matter but are ranked behind grades in college preparatory courses, strength of high school curriculum, overall high school GPA and standardized test scores in terms of importance.) This counselor said that he does hear about competitors who go further than he would and actually write essays. "My experience is more of parents taking it from kids and just writing it," he said."I went to work with a kid and I saw an essay and it took me two paragraphs to see that the mom wrote this.So she asked the question: Did you get help on this?
And the essay coaches say that they regularly save students from such parents, who are unaware that their essays would immediately be flagged as written by people much older than a typical college applicant.
(, the humor website, published a satirical guide to "how to write your teen's college essay" Friday.) Robert Schwartz, who created Your Best College Essay, is considered among the deans of the field. Our help." Formerly a journalist and entertainment writer, Schwartz started his business about six years ago, creating a website to see if anyone would reach out. Last year he had 93, including applicants to business, medical and law schools.
But most also say that they know of competitors who do so.
Many said that parents -- not students -- are the ones pushing for a coach to write an essay for a student.
But increasingly a new industry (completely unregulated) has grown.
Students -- many of whom are also paying for private counselors, sometimes at hefty rates -- are also paying thousands in fees for help on their essays.
Should college applicants (who can afford it) spend thousands of dollars for coaching on what to write?
Are those who take their money just doing a better (and less visible) job than are many parents?
For the counselor, his answer raised ethical and practical issues.
On ethics, she asked herself (and colleagues in a series of emails) whether it was proper for her to let the student submit the essay as his own work.