So, I was driving to school today and as always was listening to NPR (that's my self-promoting conversational piece informing you on how intelligent and connected I am) really, I just like the coverage on the campaign and "This American Life." Okay, I am already getting off topic and I haven't even gotten on topic yet.
Anyhow, the story I was listening to was about a woman who used to be a part of the admissions committee at Dartmouth and is now working as an independent consultant helping students with the admissions process for schools. For a cool $40,000, she will work with you from 9th grade to graduation to help prepare you for your college admissions process. And for the budget price of $14,000, she will help you write and revise your college application essay.
So, how in the world does this correlate to our world? Well, her work with college applications includes helping students decide on effective topics (staying away from "teen angst, or the teddy bear on their bed") and helping them revise and polish their admissions essays. The commentator on the other side of the story was concerned that her work with the students was basically fraud, because the help that she was giving students was clouding their own work. Maybe better stated, the concern was that by helping students pick topics and polish their essays, she was helping them misrepresent their actual abilities.
My question is this: When we work with people on application essays, are we committing a form of fraud? Are we helping them misrepresent their abilities? I realize that this sounds like a ridiculous question since our philosophy is helping students become better writers while maintaining their roles as writers of their own papers. My trouble comes from the fact that the consultant on the radio today claimed the same ideals. How does our work differ from hers if we have only one consultation with a person specifically to polish a college application? What can we do in our own consultations to ensure that we are not aiding and abetting fraud?