The Packaged Student
Ayla Mitchell, reporter
October 9, 2009
Thousands of high schools in the United States at the end of their high school careers’ find themselves in a troubling and possibly future shattering predicament. Though they have spent four years and many more lost hours hunched over books and pulling long hours to achieve the top test scores, and most competitive class rank. These students are all alike, even though perhaps in their individual classes or high schools they were unique or prized. Compared to the rest of the competitive adolescent academic population they are a dime a dozen. This represents an increasing trend in American high school education where admission to the top schools has become increasingly important and increasingly competitive. This has driven many students to seek help to pull themselves ahead of the “pack”
In response to the stress and need, several college “Packaging programs” have risen to fill the role. These range from courses and SAT/ACT prep classes to individual consultation with counselors who advise on issues from college options and extra curriculum choices. The College Application Consultants; a group that specializes in the college process is headed by Pam Proctor; The author of “The College Hook” a manual and guide that teaches and helps students set themselves apart from their classmates who have similar transcripts. “Every student needs a hook, – the one passion or interest that is so strong that it will set you apart from all the other kids who are applying,” says Pam who has gained considerable credibility in the consulting community for her seminars and published works.
These programs are used by an increasingly large number of students and their anxious parents eager for a chance for their students to fulfill their dreams. But these dreams come at a cost; the college consultant programs are generally expensive. Some students see this as a valuable opportunity to discover channels of acceptance and aptitude in areas previously unexplored or unavailable. But with increasing number of students attending seminars and personalizing resumes how individual is the advice. In a few years will all the students with their advanced programs and specific interests began to look the same. While it is safe to say that students would not be as equally successful on their own as without the expensive coaching, the elitist attitude that accompanies many of these programs is discouraging and disappointing, students who are either at a financial disadvantage or have not been properly prepared may find themselves a minority in the consulting community.