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News & Views - Apr, 2000 Issue #68

Woodbury Reports gives
Misleading Journalism Award
to Smart Money Magazine

(Independent Educational Consultants Association Executive Director Mark H. Sklarow’s letter to the Editor of SmartMoney Magazine)

I have been interviewed hundreds of times by members of the media on the role of privately hired educational consultants in the college admission process.  I have not always been in agreement with the author’s viewpoint, but have at least felt that my remarks were accurately reflected.  Until now. 

Daisy Chan’s “Ten Things the College-Prep Industry Won’t Tell You” (April 2000) was so manipulative in her editing that the article itself is blatantly false and does a real disservice to readers who expect to find advice in your magazine on how to invest and spend their money wisely. 

Consistently, Ms. Chan took my quotes out of context and presented them in a way that completely reversed their meaning.  Just one example: I stressed explicitly that members of IECA and Certified Educational Planners MUST visit one hundred campuses before qualifying for membership and continue such evaluative visits at a pace of 20 or more a year.  I noted that this contrasts with public school counselors, and a handful of less than ethical (non- member) consultants who do not visit campuses.  This, I noted was a major reason families seek our independent counselors.  Yet when the article appeared my quotes about school-based counselors were restated to imply I was speaking about independents and condemned the entire industry.  This misuse of an interviewee’s words is unconscionable. 

Through a number of interviews I corrected Ms. Chan’s misperception that independent educational consultants seek to manipulate the system to help unqualified kids “get in.” In fact, I stressed repeatedly that private counselors are matchmakers. Their role is to help match a student’s abilities and needs with a college that will be a good fit: socially, emotionally and educationally.  That Ms. Chan missed this single, most basic explanation of what the industry does could only have been done through a deliberate attempt to misrepresent and mislead. 

Had Ms. Chan even researched several past articles in SmartMoney she would have read numerous stories which fairly laid out the benefits and the disadvantages to families in hiring a private counselor.  Instead, she resorted to distortions and misrepresentations that harm the reader, slandered those in an admired profession and altered the meaning of my own remarks. 

Mark H. Sklarow 
Executive Director, IECA 

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