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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Ivy crazy

Getting Aidan or Abigail into a bumper-sticker-worthy college doesn't come cheaply. In addition to $800,000 or so for 13 years at a top private school, uber-wealthy parents are paying another $120,00 a year, often starting in ninth or tenth grade, to a consultant who will serve as tutor, coach and PR agent, writes Caitlin Moscatello in New York.

Or more. If the early-decision college says "no," some parents pay another $250,000 for a two-week push to perfect the regular-decision application.

Christopher Rim, 28, was a good, but not great, student at a New Jersey public school, he told Moscatello. He founded an anti-bullying nonprofit, wrote himself a service-centered narrative and got into Yale. His company, Command Education, now has 41 staffers, most of them recent graduates of elite universities who act as "mentors."

The pitch is crafted to appeal to the wealthy clients Rim courts: a “personalized, white glove” service, through which Command employees do everything from curating students’ extracurriculars to helping them land summer internships, craft essays, and manage their course loads with the single goal of getting them in.

Mentors will text a student with a reminder about the math homework -- or help get a university sponsor for a research project.

"Most consultants charge in the ballpark of $4,000 to $7,500 for helping students with typical application prep, including making their college list and looking over their essays," writes Moscatello. That's for ordinary folks.

Very selective colleges don't want well-rounded students, says Rim. They want "pointy" kids with a compelling narrative. Command staffers help teenagers turn vague interests into "passion projects."

Command has competition, writes Moscatello. "Ivy Coach reportedly charges $1.5 million for a multiyear package."

That's cheaper than become a donor: Apparently, it takes at least $10 million to get an edge in admissions these days.

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