How Stanley Kaplan Transformed the Education Industry

Stanley Kaplan was a Brooklyn-born, first-generation college student and tutor who originally aspired to become a doctor. However, despite his exceptional academic record, he was rejected from all five New York City medical schools because the seats reserved for ethnic quotas for Jewish students had already been filled. This experience led him to favor standardized testing, which he believed would have allowed him to demonstrate his merit in medical schools.

He noted, “I was frustrated that I couldn’t prove to the medical school admissions offices that City College students were academically on a par with private college graduates.”

Kaplan turned to help other children from immigrant families prepare for admission tests. He taught students from working-class backgrounds and helped them compete for admission at top-tier universities that were overwhelmingly filled with private school students from wealthy families.

In 1938, Kaplan established the Stanley H. Kaplan Co., a tutoring service, in the basement of his home. Initially, he tutored high school students to help them take the New York State Regents Examinations. In 1946, in response to a student’s request, he expanded his business to include preparation for what was then called the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT). This coincided with a significant increase in college enrollment following World War II when the United States government passed the GI Bill.

Throughout these years following the war, his business saw an unprecedented surge with students who sought help preparing for the admission tests to enter colleges and graduate schools. But the authorities governing these tests, namely the College Board and the ETS – sought to discredit Kaplan because the idea that coaching could help students increase their scores and “beat” the tests threatened to undermine their business.

However, following an investigation, the FTC issued a report in 1978 that concluded that high-quality coaching could improve test scores, validating the legitimacy of Kaplan’s business. In 1983, the circumstances dramatically changed when the College Board asked Kaplan to speak at its annual conference. In an article in 2009, The Washington Post mentioned that Kaplan viewed the invitation as one of the high points of his life. He opened his speech by saying, “Never, in my wildest dreams did I ever think I’d be speaking to you here today.”

 Overview of Kaplan Inc.

When Stanley Kaplan began his tutoring business in his home, he triggered an educational revolution in the United States. He is considered the pioneer of the commercial education industry.

Today, the business of Kaplan Inc., built on its roots of education and career advancement, has surged rapidly. It has collaborated with different universities and businesses, focusing on developing talent for the future workforce. It is a global education services company providing academic, professional, and training services to colleges, universities, businesses, and individuals globally.

Since its inception in 1938, Kaplan Inc. has expanded beyond test preparation services, pioneering online education and higher education models that have gained acceptance. Known for its outcomes-based approach to helping students and professionals prepare for high-stakes admission exams, Kaplan is taking the same approach to prepare professional workforce, serving as an integral partner to universities and corporate employers in honing individuals’ skills to cater to the needs of the future workforce.

Headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, the company is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Graham Holdings Company (formerly the Washington Post Company), known for strong financial standing, diversified offerings, and a long-term orientation.

Kaplan Inc. is a global company with North American and International divisions. It operates in over 27 countries, offering services in 100+ countries through its online courses. Its partners include approximately 4,000 universities, colleges, school districts, and over 12,000 employees worldwide. Kaplan offers a variety of educational and training products and services, encompassing tutoring, on-site classes, live programs, books, online products, and others.