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ERIC Number: ED566220
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2014
Pages: 231
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: 978-1-3037-2565-4
The Role of Independent Educational Consultants in the College Application Process
Smith, Jill M.
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, Brandeis University
This dissertation focuses on the growing role of private, for-profit Independent Educational Consultants (IECs) in the college application process. Over the past two decades, an "admission industrial complex" of commercial enterprises designed to help students strategize about admissions and give them information about colleges has arisen. Some components of the complex, such as test preparation coaches and IECs, can also be categorized as forms of "shadow education," or private educational opportunities that exist outside of schools and largely benefit economically advantaged students. Use of such services features prominently in the intensive parenting strategies of upper middle class parents. This dissertation answers questions about whether IECs contribute to social stratification or mobility. To look at the influence of IECs on a micro level, a close focus is trained on interactions, tensions, and expectations that exist within familial and IEC-client relationships. Particular attention is paid to how families make the decision to hire an IEC, how they go about the selection process, and the reasons for why they are satisfied IEC with services. Data were gleaned from interviews with IECs based in eastern Massachusetts, IEC clients (including parents and students), interviews at a privately-funded organization that provides college counseling and mentorship to disadvantaged students, and observations at a conference of the Independent Educational Consultants Association. Data analysis was informed by an inductive "grounded theory" approach. Results show that clients highlight IECs' role as mediator, matchmaker, and personal assistant and downplay the role of IECs in using "connections" and "secret strategies" to facilitate admission as popularized in the mass media. While it does not seem like IECs play much of a role in the social mobility of the typical affluent IEC student, an examination of the IEC industry does highlight many of the ways in which socioeconomic advantage functions in the college admissions arena and may extend this privilege into adulthood and maybe even into the next generation. The IEC industry is only one contributing factor to the reproduction of privilege for affluent youths, but it appears that the impact on mobility could be more significant for disadvantaged students who receive pro bono IEC services. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education; Secondary Education; High Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Massachusetts