The events of the last year have taught me a lot. As a result, Bedrock will be implementing several changes. 

The first change is an immediate 20% reduction in the number of students that we’re going to take, while keeping the number of fellows the same. It has become clear that, almost irrespective of how you define “best”, the best students of Vietnam need a lot of attention to get ready for college. An 8:1 student-faculty ratio will allow us to focus that much more on each and every student. When you count our administrative staff, we will have a full-time staff-to-student ratio in the range of 4:1. This doesn’t count the numerous part-time academic staff that we hire for various piece-work throughout the year. There is a small army mobilized to help our students, and that will never have been truer than this coming year. As usual, the number of students we are permitted to take will be spelled out in each and every contract. 

The second change is our new policy of non-acceptance of national team participation and members of national teams generally. I want to be clear that this policy is forward looking and will have no effect on our current students. However, this coming year, we will not pursue or sign contracts with anyone whose GPA has been affected by national team participation. If students begin national team participation after signing a contract with us, that will be grounds for the voiding of the contract. Since the system is opaque, and since school sanctioned grade substitution is one of the primary incentives students have to participate in this system, we will operate on the presumption that any national team membership is tainting. Knowing what we now know about this system, we cannot, in good conscience, continue to give help to students who have between 33% and 66% of their academic record effectively falsified in their favor. This is especially so given that there is a large group of students who are not participating in the grade substitution system. In effect, we are bound to prefer any and all non-national team students to any and all national team students. Since there are more such students than slots we have available, it makes no sense, business or otherwise, to recruit national team members.
The third change is a big one and hopefully the most impactful. Starting with next year’s cohort (2019), we will make every effort to create a fully searchable and auditable record of all counseling interactions. This means that conversations will be recorded and transcribed, track changes (or virtual ink on .pdfs) will be used for allcomments on essays, and emails and slack conversations will be stored and archived. The goal is to create a total, step-by-step record of all the work we’ve done with each student. Bedrock will retain an encrypted copy of this data AND the student (notably, NOT the parent) will retain an encrypted copy of this data. In this way, if any one ever questions the integrity of the work that you did with us, you can show them exactly how, and under what conditions and influences, your work was produced. This will have the additional benefit of forcing us to be conservative in our work with students. Even the best-intentioned counselor can go too far out of exhaustion, competitiveness, or a desire to help a favorite student. In any case, having one’s work subject to potential hostile scrutiny will help all of us control that temptation.

From the student perspective, why would we do something like this? Working with an organization like Bedrock can be very helpful, but it can also create problems. Should your association with us become known, given the current state of the college consulting industry, that association could also throw the integrity of your academic record into doubt. Sadly, there is so much fraud that it is very likely that you, as a high-functioning Vietnamese student, will be thought as of guilty at some point. The way to solve this is to bring transparency to the counselling process so that you could, in extremis, prove yourself innocent. Once a sufficient database exists, I hope to make admissions officers aware of the existence of these records and perhaps, with student consent, submit a random sampling of anonymized records for review. In this way, your association with Bedrock will become a positive mark of integrity rather than something that casts doubt.

I look forward to implementing these changes and continuing our work to prepare some of Vietnam’s best and brightest for a productive American college career. 

Thank you for your time and attention,
Justin Doddridge Shelby
Director and Founder, BEC TNHH

Justin Shelby