Helping kids get into college is a big business — and it's growing fast.
The industry gained some unwelcome notoriety early this week when dozens of people — including actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin — were arrested in an admissions bribery scheme.
The person behind it was William "Rick" Singer, founder of the Edge College & Career Network. He pleaded guilty to a number of charges, including racketeering, for masterminding the scheme, which included bribing college athletic coaches and having other people take admissions tests for the children of those who hired him.
Members of the profession swiftly condemned Singer's actions and pointed out that the charges exemplified the concern parents feel about getting their children into the right college.
"We know anxiety is off the charts. Part of the reason anxiety is off the charts is the decision-making in colleges has become so opaque," said Mark Sklarow, CEO of the Independent Educational Consultants Association. "We see that parents are willing to do just about anything."
His organization, a nonprofit that represents independent educational consultants, estimates there are about 8,000 people in the profession full-time, as well as thousands more who "dabble" in it.
The IECA has about 2,000 members — double the number from five years ago — who are required to abide by a code of conduct.