The rat race for college admissions has reached new levels of madness, according to a consultant who has seen firsthand the havoc it wreaks on families.
“It’s beyond crazy,” Christopher Rim, founder and CEO of Command Education, told The Post. “The emphasis on elite and Ivy schools has been completely derailed.”
Among the lengths he’s seen parents go to in search of an acceptance letter: spending up to $1.5 million on college counselors and moving across the country in search of a more advantageous address.
“Many Ivy League admissions officers are actively recruiting in non-urban areas where there are no students currently applying, meaning that talented students in those areas who do apply generally have better chances of admission,” Rim said.
“I have seen families abandon [prep schools] Collegiate and Dalton and moving to states like Kentucky and Arkansas to attend high school — it’s a sacrifice families are willing to make to increase their children’s chances of being accepted into the colleges of their dreams.”
Harvard University’s admission rate has fallen to an ultra-competitive 3.41%, prompting some parents to take extreme measures to get their children in.Getty Images
Although Command Education doesn’t work with anyone younger than seventh grade, Rim said he regularly has to turn away families who want him to start consulting with their second- or third-graders.
He even had one family lie about their child’s age in an attempt to enroll their fifth grader in his program.
“It’s a disaster,” Rim said. “Families are as frenetic and crazy as they say. If his son makes a small mistake, he thinks it is the end of the world and that everything they have worked for has been in vain.”
College consultant Christopher Rim says the college admissions process has pushed some families to move across the country to game the system.Command Education
Some are even willing to shell out unthinkable sums of money to gain an advantage, like the mother who, according to Manhattan-based consulting firm Ivy Coach, agreed to pay $1.5 million to help her daughter get into a college. elite.
Sometimes, Rim said, kids who don’t get into an Ivy League school take a gap year and reapply rather than go somewhere “less prestigious.”
The 28-year-old’s college consulting firm brings together, at any given time, about 200 students with college counselors who meet with them weekly and text them daily.
Most of Rim’s employees are between 23 and 30 years old, which means they can forge “more of an older brother-like mentorship.”
Rim, who founded Command Education in his Yale dorm room (above) in 2015, admits he “wasn’t the best student” in high school, but he stood out for his extracurricular activities. Shutterstock
He founded Command Education in 2015 in his Yale dorm room, after his classmates were stunned that Rim, who admitted he was “not the best student,” got into the Ivy League school while the valedictorian of Not his high school class.
Her secret sauce, Rim said, was an organization she founded to help teach elementary students in her home state of New Jersey about emotional intelligence and bullying prevention.
“I was passionate about this job. I helped the students,” she said. “And it was my genuine extracurricular passion that made me stand out.”
Since Rim went through the admissions process a decade ago, competition has intensified significantly.
At elite schools like New York University, where so many more students apply that the admission rate fell from 27% to 8% in two years, more foreign students are fighting for places.Helayne Seidman
At New York University, for example, the admissions rate fell to just 8% for the class of 2027, down from 27% for the class of 2021.
And Harvard’s already tight admissions rate of 7.47% a decade ago has been cut in half to an almost impossible 3.41% today.
It’s not that class sizes are getting smaller; Instead, there are more top-tier students in competition, and now the entire world is fighting for the same few spots at elite American schools.
Rim estimates that about a third of its clients are international, and that number is growing every year, especially in the Middle East.
High school students who aspire to top colleges often spend three hours a day on homework, are leaders of several clubs, play two or three sports, study several hours a week with an SAT tutor, and attend weekly tutoring sessions. admissions advice.Shutterstock
“Everyone is surprised by that. “People assume the most popular countries are China, Korea or Japan,” she said. “But, in countries like Saudi Arabia and Qatar, if you get into a top school, the government pays for your entire college education.”
The pressure this competition puts on the kids is next level.
In addition to a full school schedule, high school students who aspire to top schools, including Stanford, the University of Chicago and MIT, often spend three hours a day on homework, are leaders of several clubs, play two or three sports and they study several hours a week. with an SAT tutor and also get a weekly admissions counseling appointment.
“They just have to be number one,” Rim said. “There is consistent and constant pressure. You can’t just join a club or sport and just enjoy it. You have to be the best at it.”
College admissions pressures can start as early as kindergarten in New York City, Rim said.Shutterstock
And start early.
“Private school admissions in New York City are a world unto themselves,” Rim said. “Where you enter kindergarten will determine where you go to middle school, then high school, and then college. At that point it’s a college admissions mini-game.”
The pressure doesn’t just affect children, either.
Rim said he regularly hears parents say they can’t sleep because they’re too busy worrying about their kids’ college applications: “I’m not even kidding. My parents texted me saying, ‘You saved our marriage through this whole process.'”
Rim admits that the college admissions process is an “unfair game.”
And while Command Education has had notable success (94% of clients get into at least one of their top three college choices, Rim said), he believes the process is deeply broken.
“These students work very hard and are giving their all,” he said. “But sometimes they do everything right and still don’t get in, because a classmate’s family donated more than $50 million to the school.
“Honestly, it’s an unfair game. “We’re playing within their rules, but it’s unfair and I don’t think it ever will be.”