College Access Counseling

My firm, College Access Counseling, Ltd., works with adults and organizations who counsel and support first-generation and minority students on the way to college. I teach the ins and outs of the college process, helping them build social and cultural capital for their students. Click here for more information. I also write for NACAC's blog, Admitted. You can read my entries as well as some of my colleagues', here. Click here to read one of my entries in the New York Times's blog, The Choice.

April 27, 2007

Advancing by Degrees

The news that Marilee Jones, Dean of Admission at MIT, has had to resign because she falsified her resume, has hit us in the college admission biz pretty hard. She is an exceptionally intelligent and humane person, and many of us (including me) have recommended her book Less Stress, More Success many times as a wonderful antidote to the college admission frenzy that surrounds us. Since she was also a big advocate of being honest in dealing with admission offices, this is really a blow.

It seems that when she first began to work in the admission office, one didn't need a college degree, but it seems she invented one (or perhaps several) anyway. As she progressed up the ladder at MIT, no one thought to check (or recheck) her credentials, but her misrepresentations eventually caught up with her. Apparently someone phoned MIT with the news...What, one wonders was the motivation, and why now? She had become more visible as a result of the book; more light was shed on her background. And one wonders why she felt she needed to manufacture degrees, although it might seem obvious that someone in such a public position at a place like MIT would feel obligated to have a degree, being surrounded as she was with big-brained professors and wildly smart students on their way to their own degrees. One might forgive her for not wanting to look uneducated in the middle of that crowd, even though by now she had been doing a terrific job for MIT for nearly 30 years.

The impropriety of lying on your resume aside, I'm not sure why someone working in college admission would necessarily need a college degree. It takes a lot of people skills and business sense, a way with numbers, and good old fashioned intuition to make a good admission officer/dean. I know many people who really stumbled into the business from other businesses like consulting, accounting, and advertising. There's no graduate degree in "college admission" generally available, and one can learn the basics as one moves from a fresh-out-of-college-working-for-my-alma-mater "green dean" to positions higher up in the hierarchy or simply by watching and learning carefully as one does the work. Even if Marilee hadn't lied, she would have done the same good job she's done. Of course, in academia a degree is like a pass to the secret club; it's tough to convince professors that someone without a degree in something can run an admission office. But Marilee shows it can be done.

As college admission becomes more commercialized and professionalized, perhaps having a degree is simply the price of entry. But there's no necessary reason for it, is there?

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Blog Archive

Books About College, Teens, and American Culture

  • A History of American Higher Education
  • A Hope in the Unseen
  • Admission
  • Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic
  • African Americans and College Choice
  • Born to Buy: The Commercialized Child and the New Consumer Culture
  • Boys Adrift: The Five Factors Driving the Growing Epidemic of Unmotivated Boys and Underachieving Young Men
  • Branded: The Buying and Selling of Teenagers
  • Campus Life
  • Class
  • College Access & Opportunity Guide
  • College Admissions and the Public Interest
  • College Admissions Together: It Takes a Family
  • College Gold: The Step by Step Guide for Paying for College
  • College Knowledge: What It Really Takes for Students to Succeed and What We Can Do to Get Them Ready
  • College Unranked: Ending the College Admissions Frenzy
  • Colleges that Change Lives
  • Consumed
  • Contradictions of School Reform: Educational Costs of Standardized Testing
  • Doing School: How We are Creating a Generation of Stressed-out, Materialistic, and Miseducated Students
  • First in the Family
  • Fiske Guide to Colleges
  • Going to College: How Social, Economic, and Educational Factors Influence the Decisions Students Make
  • Harvard, Schmarvard
  • Higher Learning, Greater Good: The Private & Social Benefits of Higher Education
  • Huck's Raft: A History of American Childhood
  • I Am Charlotte Simmons
  • Increasing Access to College:
  • Less Stress, More Success: A New Approach to Guiding Your Teen Through College Admission and Beyond
  • Leveling the Playing Field: Justice, Politics, and College Admissions
  • Life: The Movie: How Entertainment Conquered America
  • Limbo: Blue-Collar Roots, White-Collar Dreams
  • Looking Beyond the Ivy League
  • Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions
  • Privilege: Harvard and the Education of the Ruling Class
  • Punished by Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A's, Praise, and Other Bribes
  • Race and Class Matters at an Elite College
  • Rescuing Your Teenager From Depression
  • Shakespeare, Einstein, and the Bottom Line: The Marketing of Higher Education
  • Sophomore Guide to College & Career: Preparing for life After High School
  • Standardized Minds: The High Price of America's Testing Culture and What We Can Do to Change It
  • Status Anxiety
  • Taking Time Off
  • Tearing Down the Gates: Confronting the Class Divide in American Education
  • The Big Test: The Secret History of the American Meritocracy
  • The Bond: Three Young Men Learn to Forgive & Reconnect with Their Fathers
  • The Case Against Standardized Testing: Raising the Scores, Ruining the Schools
  • The Chosen: The Hidden History of Admission and Exclusion at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton
  • The Culture of Narcissism
  • The Gatekeepers: Inside the Admissions Process of a Premier College
  • The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in American Life
  • The Little College Handbook: A First Generation's Guide to Getting in and Staying In
  • The Naked Roommate: And 107 Other Issues You Might Run Into in College
  • The Pact: Three Young Men Make a Promise and Fulfull a Dream
  • The Pressured Child: Helping Your Child Find Success in School and Life
  • The Price of Admission: How America's Ruling Class Buys Its Way into Elite Colleges--and Who Gets Left Outside the Gates
  • The Price of Privilege: How Parental Pressure and Material Advantage are Creating a Generation of Disconnected and Unhappy Kids
  • The Rise and Fall of the American Teenager
  • The Secret Lives of Overachievers
  • The Unintended Consequences of High Stakes Testing
  • Universities in the Marketplace: The Commercialization of Higher Education
  • What Color Is Your Parachute? for Teens