by Con Chapman
WELLESLEY FALLS, Mass. In this wealthy suburb of Boston, parents will go to great lengths to ensure that their children get into a good college, even paying top dollar to “college coaches” who counsel the kids on their essays, SAT preparation and community service choices.
“It means so much,” says Marci Hallinan, whose daughter Courtney’s first choice was Mount Holyoke. “Get into the right school and someday you’ll be able to buy a $1.3 million starter home,” says the perky blonde who supplements her husband Rick’s income by working as a real estate broker. “If you don’t, you end up pushing a grocery cart through the streets picking up deposit cans.”
If Marci’s smile seems a little forced today, it’s because Courtney was not accepted from the early decision applicants to the prestigious women’s college, and wasn’t granted deferred status to be considered as part of the regular applicant pool, either. “Flat-out rejected,” says Marci bitterly, and this reporter hears the sound of sobbing from an upstairs bedroom.
The scene was repeated across town as clients of college coach Ron Dilworth received the same bad news from the nation’s top universities.
“He got the big goose-egg,” says angry father Todd Dremke, whose son Miles was rejected by Stanford, Harvard, Emory, Washington University in St. Louis and Northwestern. “O for 8.”
At a cost of six to eight thousand dollars a child, a college coach can do quite well. “But the only thing that counts is your record,” says Norton Zeligman, who says he “ran the table” this year, getting his clients into Yale, Oberlin, Vanderbilt and Georgetown. “I feel sorry for Ron, but that’s the nature of the business.”
So Dilworth got the bad news this morning. He’s been sacked, asked to clean out his flash cards and told his services won’t be needed down the stretch for those who were wait-listed.
“I don’t think I was given the chance I needed to turn this season around,” he said at a sparsely-attended press conference at the high school guidance office. “I wish these kids the best of luck. Given their scores in AP Biology, they’re going to need it.”
Dilworth has no job offers at present, but hopes to catch on as a junior college coach in a less-affluent community. “I’m looking forward to spending more time with my family,” he noted in his farewell speech, “and a lot less with yours.”