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Author and former tutor Lacy Crawford reveals rich parents’ college-admissions madness

Aug 25, 2013 by

Lacy Crawford’s first novel, “Early Decision” (William Morrow), out this week, was inspired by the 15 years she spent working as an independent college-admissions counselor to the rich-and-powerful’s sons and daughters in Manhattan, Chicago, Los Angeles and London. For a fee, Crawford would help them with their entry essays and applications to get them the one thing they couldn’t always buy — a spot in an Ivy League school. She shares her stories (with the names and some characteristics changed) with The Post.

Though I worked for 15 years as an independent college-applications counselor all over the United States and Europe — with students whose parents thought nothing of flying me in every weekend to try to make Harvard say yes — nowhere was the college-admissions race more competitive than in New York City.

WRITE STUFF: For a fee of $7,500, Lacy Crawford would help the sometimes indifferent children of wealthy New Yorkers write their college-entry essays.

John Chapple

WRITE STUFF: For a fee of $7,500, Lacy Crawford would help the sometimes indifferent children of wealthy New Yorkers write their college-entry essays.

Here the frenzy is amplified by money and power as it only can be in New York; college admissions are the culmination of a scramble that begins with nursery school. Here, too, the opportunities for obsessive parents to break a student’s heart seem sharper than anywhere else.


My abiding memory of tutoring New Yorkers is of sitting with one girl as night fell late in October. Tears coursed down her cheeks and onto the hem of the distinctive skirt of her elite private school. She was too upset to sip from the mug of hot chocolate her housekeeper had brought up. Her parents were working late, as they always did, and other than the staff, we were alone in the house. Spread on a table before us were college essay drafts.

“It’s hopeless,” she sobbed. “I’ve got nothing.”

From her bedroom window, where we sat, an unobstructed view of Central Park stretched north to the autumn sky.

How does a young woman with so much come to feel she’s got nothing? My students were almost all thoughtful and diligent, but their parents had fallen into a terrible trap, having raised their children to reach for the stars without teaching them how to so much as stretch out an arm.

For many of the children of the most ambitious, wealthiest parents in the city, the college-admissions process begins when a child is 2, with the hiring of a consultant to deliver nursery-school acceptances.

Once in school, if the child is slow in any subject, parents hire tutors. If the tutors fail, the parents will knock on doors until they find a learning specialist who agrees to identify a trumped-up deficit in a student’s capabilities — in other words, to label the child in some way learning-disabled — after which the parents will force their excellent school to exempt the child from certain obligations, so she no longer has to take four years of math, say, or timed tests.

via Author and former tutor Lacy Crawford reveals rich parents’ college-admissions madness – NYPOST.com.

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