Empowerly CEO addresses latest college admissions scandal

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Hanmei Wu
Hanmei Wu

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As I’m sure many of you have seen on the news, the shocking behavior of a group of parents and college coaches has rocked the world of college admissions. Hollywood actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, as well as many other wealthy parents, have been accused of paying to falsify standardized test scores and college athlete profiles to get their children accepted to top universities. While several justice systems are currently working to appropriately indict these criminals, this college admissions scandal is a heinous breach of trust for students everywhere who believe the college admissions process is fair and honest.

Empowerly has always stood for academic integrity, perseverance, and passion development.

Condemning the crimes of these families and coaches is an obvious reaction, but we would like to encourage our students to take this as an opportunity for personal reflection. All our students work incredibly hard for their grades, achievements and test scores. We hope the pride you all feel about your accomplishments outweighs any concerns this college admissions scandal has brought you. 

I founded Empowerly because it’s something I personally wish I had as a high school student applying to college. Just as a math tutor can help improve your algebra skills or a personal trainer meet your fitness goals, our college counselors help students develop and present the best versions of their authentic selves in the college admissions process. 

Here are some examples.

Examples of how college counseling can help a student present their best authentic self:

  • First, Diane is a straight A student who draws in her spare time. Diane is worried about her lack of leadership and extracurriculars, but she is very introverted and nervous about joining clubs. She works with a college counselor who helps her plan an extracurricular roadmap. She creates an art portfolio of her best work and start posting her artwork on social media outlets. Then, she starts getting traction from viewers. Soon Diane is invited to present her artwork at an art gallery opening, over time gaining the confidence to showcase her artwork.
  • In his college essay, Lee initially writes about attending math camp one summer; he does this to come off as “academic” as possible in college applications. As his college counselor gets to know him, he realizes that a big part of Lee’s life involves taking care of his 5 younger siblings, often going 2-3 days without seeing his busy parents who work multiple jobs. By allowing Lee to realize colleges want to know the “real” him, Lee is able to write an authentic essay. Writing about the important things in his life, he demonstrates maturity and self awareness.
  • Anika feels pressure to “keep up” with her friends and signs up for all AP courses her junior year. Her college counselor notices that Anika excels in humanities courses but often struggles (and doesn’t really like) STEM. Anika’s counselor recommends she focus on her strengths. So, she drops the AP STEM courses that are not necessary for graduation or intended college major. They would most likely lower her GPA. Anika is able to dedicate her extra time to excelling in her AP humanities courses and SAT prep. On her SAT, she scores an 800 on the verbal section. 

In this age of increased competition and the ease of comparing yourself to the “successful” lives of other people’s social media…

It can be easy to feel the pressure to succeed through shortcuts or unethical means. However, this prevents you from pursuing opportunities to develop your true passions and skills. Know that everyone has different paths, and you may be comparing your beginning to someone’s middle. In the end, you need to be authentic to truly succeed academically, professionally, and personally. 

Empowerly is working to create widely accessible college planning software to broaden access to college counseling. Focus on yourself, your passions, and your dreams, and we will continue to ethically and honestly guide you along the way.

Please contact us at admin@empowerly.com if you have any questions. We seek to have an open and honest dialogue.

Questions? Let us know!