Editor’s Note: As college application deadlines approach during a time when schooling has become increasingly remote, Command Education continues to offer a focused college-application program to help high school seniors get into the schools of their dreams. The following is an article originally published on November 11, 2017 detailing how Command Education’s founder Chris Rim initially started the business. Learn more about these unique programs at: commandeducation.com.
In 2013, Chris Rim was the first student at his Englewood, NJ, high school to get into Yale in almost a decade. Everyone was shocked: Rim “only” had a 3.8 GPA. “My guidance counselor told me not to waste my time or her time applying,” the now-22-year-old told The Post.
Not only did Rim graduate this June with a bachelor’s degree in psychology — he now has parents paying him $750 to $950 per hour to help their teenagers get into Ivy League schools.
In 2015, while a sophomore at Yale, Rim founded Command Education, a college-application program that focuses not on SAT tutoring but on self-betterment: helping high schoolers accumulate life experiences that will make them “interesting” to admissions departments.
“Schools like Yale, they could pick everyone with 4.0s and perfect SAT scores and they could fill an entire class 10 times over,” said Rim, who lives in the Financial District. “But you’re not going to have interesting people on campus.”
What is Command Education and how does it differ from other programs?
In four years, Command has guided 32 teens into top-tier colleges such as Yale, Stanford and MIT by helping them start nonprofits, land internships and write idiosyncratic essays. Rim claims that 96 percent of his clients have gotten into one or more of their top three schools.
The company now employs 18 counselors — all recent or current Ivy students — who mentor some 50 teens throughout the country. Rim personally mentors eight high schoolers, whom he selects based on shared interests: “I want to make sure we vibe,” he said.
Command does not advertise, and relies entirely on word-of-mouth to get students; the company projects revenues for the 2017-18 academic year to reach more than $1 million.
Part of Rim’s MO is hanging out with his clients, accompanying them to the gym or taking them to a museum, as he did one recent Saturday morning with Hana, a high-school junior from Brooklyn. He is helping the art-loving teen start a nonprofit gallery to showcase her and her friends’ work.
The son of a lawyer and a middle-school teacher, Rim started an anti-bullying group in 10th grade called It Ends Today, which expanded to 26 schools across six countries. When he applied to colleges, he said, “starting a nonprofit held a lot of clout.”
As early as his freshman year of college, Rim was hearing from friends still in high school, asking if he could look at their applications. “They got into Yale [and] Harvard,” said Chris. He realized that he could turn his services into a business — and charge a lot of money.
How much does Command Education cost?
Now, Command’s packages range between $7,000 to $12,000 per academic year, with students getting at least two one-hour sessions per month.
Sam, an 18-year-old freshman at the University of Pennsylvania, who asked not to use his last name, said of Rim, “I thought he was going to be a regular tutor who was just going to help me edit my essays.” Instead, the well-connected Rim got the New Jersey teen an internship at an engineering firm and encouraged him to apply to competitive colleges such as Tufts, Johns Hopkins and Cornell. (Sam got into all of them.)
Jon Reider, co-author of “Admission Matters,” said he wasn’t surprised that parents are willing to shell out so much money. What concerns him about Rim’s methods is that it sends the wrong message to teens: that every single thing they do must be driven by whether it will get them into a good college or not.
“The important question is: What is the cost to the student’s autonomy and sense of self, if they engage in activities . . . whose main purpose is to get into a better college?” said Reider, who once worked in admissions for Stanford University. “This is different from playing sports or a musical instrument, studying for the SAT or writing an essay that says something important about you to a college. This is artificial and inauthentic.”
Yet Joseph, a father from the Upper West Side who asked not to use his last name for personal reasons, said that Rim actually helped his son gain self-confidence and find his voice. He was impressed by the way Rim guided and directed his son’s passion for hockey into launching his own nonprofit, which collects sports equipment for low-income students. Now, he’s a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.
Said Joseph of his son, “He would not have had the aggressiveness and motivation to do that before.”
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