October 12th, 2012 | University

After Harvard rejection, family sues admissions counselor

Harvard Yard
Harvard Yard Photo by ChenSiYuan/Creative Commons.

Many complain about the cost of college today, but there are few who can rival the costs that face Hong Kong couple Gerald and Lily Chow.

The couple had funneled over $2 million to U.S.-based college admissions consultant Mark Zimny after he promised to use his connections and advice to get the Chows’ two sons into Harvard University. But when their sons did not receive admission letters, the Chows decided to take their issues to court and are charging Zimny for fraud, breach of contract and unjust enrichment.

The Chows allegedly met Zimny during one of their sons’ graduation ceremonies, when Zimny told the Chows that he was a Harvard professor who owned a college counsulting firm “IvyAdmit” that would guarantee both sons’ acceptances at the university. Zimny affirmed that he would “grease the admissions wheels,” according to the Boston Globe.

While some people may deliberate the morals of a man who counsels high school students on getting accepted to a college where he teaches, the Chows were bold enough to enthusiastically accept Zimny’s offer.

The Chows initially wired at least $8,000 a month to Zimny’s company as IvyAdmit tutored, mentored and allegedly wrote papers for the two boys while they attended New England preparatory schools.

In one case, Zimny told the Chows that American universities and elite boarding schools treated Asian donors as “outsiders” and were more suspicious of them, the Globe reported. He said the family should build relationships with elite universities through intermediaries that held preexisting relationships.

But $2 million later, the Chows’ sons are still not Harvard-bound. And, in an act of what some would call incredulous chutzpah, IvyAdmit’s website continues to remain operational. Zimny still responds to company emails, including one that the Globe reporter had sent while investigating the story.

Had the Chows ever Google searched ‘Mark Zimny,’ they might have realized that Zimny had left Harvard two years before the two forces first met.