Chicago Tribune

Helping kids get into college is a big business. It usually doesn't involve bribery

Cutthroat competition to get into the nation's best colleges has fueled an explosion of admissions consultants, who charge families thousands of dollars to help students navigate the process.

The industry is in the limelight, now that federal authorities have charged 50 people, including Hollywood celebrities Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin and prominent business leaders, in a bribery scheme to get the kids of wealthy parents into top-ranked schools.

While much of the nation has gasped in outrage, many in the growing field have cringed.

"They give it a bad name," said Tina Tranfaglia, founder of College Knowledge Admissions Consulting in Glenview, Ill.

The number of independent education consultants operating in the U.S. has quadrupled since 2015, to an estimated 12,000 to 14,000, according to the Independent Education

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