An Ivy-league education doesn’t come cheap—and it’s not just tuition.
At Command Education, a New York-based company that offers tutoring to help students gain admission into to some of the country’s most exclusive schools, services start at a whopping $750,000. The college consulting includes a number of all-inclusive packages that provide seventh graders and up with advice on landing coveted spots at the nation’s top schools. According to Bloomberg, the six-figure price tag for the educational white-glove service is more than double what it could cost to attend one of the eight top ranked schools, ranging from Yale to Harvard.
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This is not just SAT prep. The programs at Command Education are more holistic, emphasizing an “emotionally intelligent approach,” according to the company’s website. Services range from a college application booster program to a year-round, personalized program that guides high school freshman to juniors with acquiring extracurricular, testing, internship, and community service experiences that will help them stand out among peers.
Only about 3 percent of applicants get into Harvard. And parents with abundant financial resources have long been willing to shell out extra dollars to get their kids positioned to attend. “These are very savvy business people and families—money is no object for our clients,” Command Education’s 28-year-old founder Christopher Rim says. And it’s not exactly a surprise that children from wealthy families stand a better chance of getting into top-tier schools. A study released in July by a Harvard economist found that children from families in the top one percent were 43 percent more likely to get into a top-ranked school than students from the middle class. Those from the top 0.1 percent were more than twice as likely to be admitted.
Still, the college application process has become murkier—and more competitive—in recent years, as acceptance rates have fallen and parents scramble to gain any edge for their children. This has led to some unsavory requests. Rim claims a parent at New York’s $64,000-a-year Trinity School once offered him $1.5 million to not work with any of his child’s classmates, to which Rim declined.
“Our college admissions system is broken—it’s gamified,” Leelila Strogov, CEO of AtomicMind, told FA Magazine. “I’ll use whatever resource or angle I can to help our clients.” Strogov’s college-prep company assigns each student-client a head adviser for “executive-function coaching.” They stay on stop of applications, while 150 tutors—ranging from debate coaches to research specialists—help foster strong academic and extracurricular records. Rates for AtomicMind start at $500 an hour then jump to $3,000 if you want to work directly with the CEO herself. The company says its worked with clients who have spent as much as $85,000 a month on counseling.
Of course, there are more bespoke college counseling services on the market, but not everyone is sure it’s worth the price. The average application package, which goes from 10th grade to the day the acceptance letter arrives, runs families about $6,700, according to the Independent Educational Consultants Association. The group’s president, Mark Sklarow, reportedly likens the business to Botox and says that “if you want to buy elitism or a concierge service, that’s a choice.” He also states that “there’s not a whole lot of difference between spending half a million dollars and $8,000 on a college consultant.”