“I had no idea you guys have a blanket prohibition on writing essays. So you’re the GOOD guys.”
Why yes, we are!
We all know that admissions consultants as a whole can get a bum rap in certain corners. In my role as AIGAC president, I routinely hear people having that a-ha moment when I give them the nutshell version of what AIGAC is and why it matters. Those conversations remind me how important it is to keep our founding mission, screening process, and Principles of Good Practice front and center in our dealings with the wider world, because when admissions officers learn what we stand for, they like what they hear. So do applicants, because they know they can work with AIGAC members in good conscience while respecting the ethical norms of the admissions process.
It can be tempting to think that the value of AIGAC speaks for itself, but that’s not always the case, and we all have opportunities to be ambassadors for AIGAC and encouraging that a-ha moment among people who don’t yet know us well. When I’m talking to people, here’s how I explain what we’re about:
AIGAC was founded to define and promote the highest ethical standards in serving graduate school applicants worldwide. While there are a number of hurdles to clear to become a member, our top priority is to select members who will uphold our Principles of Good Practice. We don’t write essays, we commit to ethical advising and professional development, and we prohibit conflicts of interest.
We maintain a rigorous screening process for membership applications, and we do turn down applications on a case by case basis. Acceptance into AIGAC is in no way a pro forma exercise or foregone conclusion; our board takes the membership deliberation process very seriously.
Our review process does not end once a consultant is accepted as a member, because compliance with the Principles is an ongoing obligation. For that reason, in addition to the screening that occurs in the application process, we conduct regular reviews of existing members to make sure that their public profiles and what we know of their practices continue to meet our standards. As a third layer of screening, our board also initiates a review if we are notified of allegations that a member is not in compliance.
The Principles of Good Practice, combined with the rigor of our membership review process, reflect our belief that nobody benefits – neither the schools, nor applicants, nor legitimate consultants — when the integrity of the admissions process is compromised. Those Principles are the reason for AIGAC’s existence.
Those Principles also give our membership currency, and in that spirit, it’s good to refamiliarize ourselves with the specifics from time to time. AIGAC’s board is committed to helping its members stay in compliance, so if you have any questions about potential conflicts in your practice, the board welcomes requests for clarification on a confidential basis. Please email any inquiries to Kathy Snelson: ksnelson (AT) aigac (DOT) org.
Wishing you a successful 2011-12 admissions season!