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STACEY VANEK SMITH: This week marks the final application deadline for a lot of colleges. Of course, applying is not a cake walk. Students have to write essays, get recommendations, take tests -- so some parents are now hiring pros to oversee the process, as Colorado Public Radio's Zachary Barr reports.
Zachary Barr: Sometimes before hiring her, parents sometimes ask educational consultant Diane Schaeffer if she can get their kid into Princeton.
Diane Schaeffer: We do not guarantee that students can get in places. And if a consultant is telling someone that they can do that, then that's an unethical consultant.
For a fee, Schaeffer guides high school seniors through the entire college application process -- from figuring out where to apply, to making sure applications are sent in on time. Educational consultants like Schaeffer are in high demand. When she joined a trade group of fellow consultants about 10 years ago --
Schaeffer: There was just a handful of people, and for our membership now to swell closer to 600 is a statement about the growth of this industry.
So, how much does one of these college gurus cost?
Schaeffer: I charge $4,200 and it's a two-year process.
Bill Mangione: It's impossible to know really whether it's worth it or not.
Nevertheless, Denver physician Bill Mangione hired Diane Schaeffer. Mangione says he wanted to give his daughter Rachel the best chance to
get into her top schools. And, he wanted to keep the peace at home.
Bill Mangione: It takes the potential conflicts of deadlines out of the household. And it moves it somewhere else -- namely between Rachel and Diane.
Rachel's grateful for her parents' decision.
Rachel Mangione: I would rather not fight with my parents over college applications and I'm more likely to listen to an expert like Diane than my mom.
Rachel applying to 11 schools. She says thanks to Diane's help, all her applications are finished and ready to send out on time.
In Denver, I'm Zachary Barr for Marketplace.