Another Way the Rich Get Richer: US Indicts Fifty for College Admissions Fraud

By Jerri-Lynn Scofield, who has worked as a securities lawyer and a derivatives trader. She is currently writing a book about textile artisans.

US federal prosecutors in Boston yesterday charged 50 people over a $25 million bribery scheme to help wealthy Americans buy their children’s way into elite universities including Georgetown, Stanford, the University of California at Los Angeles, the University of Southern California, the University of Texas at Austin, Wake Forest, and Yale.

William Singer was charged by federal prosecutors with running the racketeering scheme through his Edge College & Career Network. Thirty-three parents were also charged, as well as thirteen university sports coaches or associates of Singer’s businesses, including two SAT and ACT test administrations.(I have embedded a copy of the Indictment below).

Parents spent anywhere between $200,000 and $6.5 million to guarantee admission of their offsprings.

Some arrested and forced to post bail include Gordon Caplan, a lawyer and chairman of the international law firm Willkie Farr & Gallagher; Douglas Hodge, former CEO of Pimco, one of the largest global bond fund managers; Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, actors;  and William E. McGlashan Jr., a senior executive at TPG, one of the world’s largest  private equity firms.

Coaches include Rudolph Meredith, former head women’s soccer coach at Yale; and John Vandemoer, former sailing coach at Stanford (see for the Department of Justice press release providing a complete list; or for the New York times version that includes further details).

No students were charged.

Prosecutors say investigations continue, and that means further indictments may well follow. At this point, no university admissions officers have been charged.

These  indictments follow from a nationwide investigation, involving more than 300 investigators, in multiple states. The defendants are faced with potential serious jail times – including maximum sentences of twenty years – and significant monetary damages.

Just Some of the Scams: Front, Back, and Side Doors

Every once in a while, there’s a story that pulls band-aid off the scab, so to speak, revealing what lies beneath. This is one such story.

Here are some highlights from the Affidavit in Support of Criminal Complaint (which I have embedded below).

Front, Back, and Side Doors. So, now to the nitty gritty, how was this scam pulled off? The parent and Singer’s organization followed two general routes. One involved various forms of cheating on college entrance exams; the other involved fabricating or inflating a candidate’s athletic qualifications.

Those unfamiliar with the American system of university admissions may not know just how much weight is given to athletic prowess – even at  elite universities.

According to the indictment:

All of the Universities recruit student athletes, and typically apply different criteria when evaluating applications from students with demonstrated athletic abilities….The admissions offices at the Universities typically allot a set number of slots to each varsity head coach for that coach’s recruited athletes. At each of the Universities, the admissions prospects of recruited athletes are higher – and in some cases significantly higher – than those of non-recruited athletes with similar grades and standardized test scores (Indictment, pp. 6-7).

Parents paid the organization for these services – sometimes in the form of a “charitable donation” to Key Worldwide Foundation (KWF), a non-profit corporation Singer established as a purported charity in 2012. As a charity, KWF was exempt from paying federal income tax, and KWF in turn made bribe payments to various coaches, test administrators, and others.

According to the government’s affidavit, confidential witness 1 (CW-1), had a telephone conversation on or about June 15, 2018 with Caplan – the law firm partner – which the government monitored pursuant to a court-authorized wiretap:

Okay, so, who we are – what we do is we help the wealthiest families in the U.S. get their kids into school …. Every year there are– is a group of families, especially where I am right now in the Bay Area, Palo Alto, I just flew in.That they want guarantees, they want this thing done. They don’t want to be messing around with this thing. And so they want in at certain schools. So I did 761 what I would call, “side doors.” There is a front door which means you get in on your own. The back door is through institutional advancement, which is ten times as much money. And I’ve created this side door in. Because the back door, when you go through institutional advancement, as you know, everybody’s got a friend of a friend, who knows somebody who knows somebody but there’s no guarantee, they’re just gonna give you a second look. My families want a guarantee. So if you said to me, here’s our grades, here’s our scores, here’s our ability, and we want to go to X school’ and you give me one or two schools, and then I’ll go after those schools and try to get a guarantee done. So that, by the time, the summer of her senior year, before her senior  year, hopefully we can have this thing done, so that in the fall, before December 15th, you already know she’s in. Done. And you make a financial commitment. It depends on what school you want, may determine how much that actually is. But that’s kind of how the the side and back door work (Affidavit, p. 13)

Scope and Logistics of Scandal

A couple of things here. The witness claims he did 761 of these “side doors.” If he’s telling the truth, this means many more applicants were admitted fraudulently than represented by the 33 parents the parents indicted yesterday.

Notice also that there’s a “back door” – “institutional advancement,” where for enough of a direct donation, parents expect to be able to buy admission for their child. There’s no guarantee that will work, whereas CW -1 claims he can guarantee a result by using his side door. Plus that back door route costs much more money – ten times as much as the service he provides. So parents pursued his approach either because they wanted such a “guarantee” – or didn’t want to or couldn’t afford to make sufficiently large donations for “institutional advancement.” Which, I should emphasize, is perfectly legal. Large donors do make such donations – and, surprise, surprise, their children are admitted. Prosecutors are not investigating or indicting any of those donors here.

Test fraud.This took various forms. Singer owned two testing centres – which administer the ACT and SAT. Parents arranged for their children to take the necessary exam at one of these centres. In some cases, a ringer took the exam in place of  the applicant. In others, the applicant was provided with answers, or the exams were “corrected” before being submitted for official scoring and recording. And in yet others, the candidate was certified as suffering from some form of disability and provided with extra time to take the test.

Fabricated credentials.Prosecutors documented examples of complete fabrication of athletic credentials.

Following a certification by Yale head soccer coach Meredith that the applicant was a soccer recruit – Yale admitted a woman student who didn’t, in fact, play soccer, yet alone excel at the sport. For this to occur, $1.2 million changed hands – $400,000 of which went to Yale coach Meredith.

Another student who had never rowed secured a place via the University of Southern California’s rowing squad. Faces of applicants were photoshopped onto real athletes, to be used to support the applicant’s application, including the “rower”.

Bogus Signatures.Prosecutors submitted a copy of a handwriting sample provided by a candidate, as well as a request for a signature sample, so that the ringer who was taking the test could attempt to conform handwriting and signature to that of the candidate when he had previously himself taken the test the range was retaking on behalf of the actual applicant (Affidavit, p. 21).

Arbitrary, Obscure Admissions System Favors the Children of Those Who’ve Already Made It: Feature, Not Bug

Leave it to Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez to zero in on a key issue:

I guess college admissions isn’t that different from elections, where lots of money can buy your spot too.

Also an enviro where those who make it despite the odds are suspected to not have “earned” it, not truly belong, or assumed to not be able to perform at the same level.

— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC)

Whether or not the defendants do time or not is not really to the point. No doubt some will, and certainly should, do at least some time – if the government manages to prove its allegations in court, or secure pleas.

These prosecutions put the rich on notice that anything does not go as far as college admissions are concerned.

But what’s being addressed here is only the most extreme end of the spectrum. And I quote Michael Kinsley yet again: “the scandal isn’t what’s illegal, the scandal is what’s legal.”

The American system of college admissions is already heavily weighted toward the affluent. They can afford to pay for private education or to live in areas with good schools. They can foot the bills for expensive test preparation services, extra tuition for their children, fees for college admissions consulting, not to mention the time and costs to pursue extracurricular activities seriously, or to participate in summer and other enrichment programs.

Another big advantage wealthy university alumni/ae enjoy is the preferences many universities grant to legacy applicants – aka their children. About 42 percent of private institutions, and 6 percent of public institutions do, according to a recent NPR report,  Large donors get even more preference, or at least they do at Harvard, as the Harvard Crimson reported in October about a lawsuit by Asian-American applicants against Harvard (see ).

Normal academic standards are relaxed for gifted athletes, as prosecutors make clear in the indictment. This interjects a non-academic factor into admissions decisions, and also, indirectly, benefits the rich, at least for some of the most prestigious private universities. These institutions field teams in sports such as lacrosse, rowing, sailing, and squash – sports either played at private prep schools, or that one needs lots of money to pursue. This is yet another subtle advantage that those who can afford to attend schools that offer such sports – and thus embellish their resumes with their participation – enjoy.

In addition to test scores and record, more than 700 institutions require students to submit a standard college application – the Universal Common Application (UCA), adopted in 2007, for at least some of their admissions process. The application includes a meaningless 500 word essay and some 250 word additional essays. Mastering such a weird form demonstrates virtually nothing about a student’s ability. But these are easy for college admissions officers to evaluate. They provide an advantage to those who can be coached into producing a better essay (or who can buy a decent example outright). And they are highly subjective – thus allowing opportunities for bias to creep in, and an admissions officer to skew a decision in favor of applicants who can, for example, pay full freight, while allegedly deciding on the basis of merit.

(In their lack of fitness for purpose, these essays remind me a bit of the multiple choice part of many bar exams. Applicants are tested on multi-state law, even though this fictitious construct – the legal rule on a particular subject in a majority of US states – may not be the law in the jurisdiction in which an applicant sits the bar. All acing the multi-state proved was that a candidate could learn arcane rules, in a short time, and regurgitate them under exam conditions. That may be a skill, but doesn’t demonstrate a candidate has basic competence  to practice law. But grading multiple choice exams can be done by machine, and produces “objective” – but meaningless- results).

Immediate Remedies

I’m curious what the institutions involved will do next. As I mentioned above, prosecutors have as yet implicated no admissions officers. It is possible they had no idea they were being scammed, although in some instances, it might be that they’re merely “shocked, shocked” to see what has occurred under their watch.

In the days before accountability disappeared in American life, I would like to believe that those responsible for admissions at particular universities implicated in this investigation would have resigned – thus taking responsibility for the corruption that compromised the integrity of their institutions, regardless of whether they were directly responsible for committing the fraud.

What about the students who were admitted as a result of these scams?

Will degrees be revoked? Unlikely.

Students tossed out? That might be possible, perhaps for some violation of a university’s honor code or for submitting a fraudulent application. I point out, however, that hard as it is to believe, at least some of the fraud may have occurred without an applicant being aware of it.

Now, it would be difficult to argue that one wasn’t aware one was posing as a soccer player, or deny he had submitted a handwriting sample… perhaps that wouldn’t fly.

But the affidavit makes clear that at least in some instances where a student’s test scores were “improved” after the candidate had taken the entrance exam, that applicant may not have known what his or her parents were doing on his or her behalf.

Also, as one wise observer commented to me, it’s perhaps unfair to make a a teenaged applicant take the fall for the mistakes of the parents. Even if aware of their parents’ efforts, they were not controlling the situation.

I think the prosecutors have it right here, in going after the parents only.

As to the students, I’m not sure what I’d do. Perhaps I’m a bit of a softie. Readers: what do you think?

What Is To Be Done?

The times they are a changin’, in ways affecting so many areas.

Discussions of issues – Medicare for All, free college, the Green New Deal – regarded as fringe or downright quixotic. are now front and center in American political debate. Why shouldn’t the morass of college admissions – especially how the current system perpetuates and legitimizes inequality – be discussed?

So I’d like to close by widening the discussion to consider some possible reforms, perhaps providing a basis for some enterprising Congresscritter convene hearings on these issues.

The investigations seem to have touched a nerve – embarrassment even – that the vaunted US prestige education sector has fallen to follow  a standard more often associated with corrupt developing countries.

(I’ll point out that such corruption at India’s flagship institutions – Calcutta’s Presidency College, Delhi’s St. Stephens, the various Indian Institutes of Technology, and the Indian Institutes of Management – is “unthinkable.” Or even “impossible.”)

This issue, mind you, has nothing to do with academic freedom. Although the masters of the current education industrial complex can be expected to try and throw up some such chaff if serious discussion is launched.

A Modest Reform Agenda

Here’s a first pass at issues that might be probed and possible solutions that should be discussed to reduce the importance of wealth or other advantages of parents in the university prospects for their offspring. I encourage the commentariat to suggest others.

Reduce legacy admissions. First and foremost would be reducing the importance of legacy admissions. This one change would make securing a place at many elite universities much less unequal.

Currently, five of the world’s top universities – Caltech, Cambridge, MIT, Oxford, the University of California, Berkeley – don’t provide legacy preferences, according to NPR.

Take coaches out of the selection process. I don’t think a coach’s input or the composition of  athletic teams should factor into admissions decisions – period. Maybe that comes from attending MIT, which, when I was there, had no football team, only a football club, and where the homecoming queen was typically the winner of the Ugliest Man on Campus (UMOC)  contest- now the ugliest manifestation on campus- an honor for which students compete, in outrageous costumes, to raise funds for charity.

In high school, I was considered more of a nerd than a jock. Yet I appreciate how hard some student athletes work – and that some of the qualities one develops when playing sports – diligence, teamwork, leadership – might contribute to future academic success. Two sisters led their team to a national field hockey championship a generation ago – and one was an All-American. One of their daughters just graduated from Georgetown where she captained their field hockey team.

And so I wouldn’t object to giving some credit for athletic participation or outstanding achievement in an application. But an admissions officer shouldn’t outsource any element of an admissions decision to the athletic department.

I also wouldn’t place undue emphasis on athletic participation alone. Playing tuba in the marching band or violin in the all-state orchestra also demonstrates self-discipline and achievement, and should also be considered.

Increase faculty involvement in admissions, reduce the role of administrators.I believe Oxford and Cambridge colleges still require applicants to interview with college tutors before offering them a place. Now, the cost of attending multiple such interviews would be prohibitive, so I don’t know how such a principle might work in the US. Also, in the UK, students are selected for a specific spot to read a certain subject, which is not the case in the US, where admissions is more general, and students aren’t restricted to a particular course of study.

But moving to a system whereby faculty were forced to take a greater role in undergraduate admissions would be desirable.

Fewer applications. Another Oxbridge point: a candidate can apply to Oxford or Cambridge, but not both. This reduces the total number of applications overworked academics at either institution must consider, as well as forces students to focus on where they want to go and why.

The US system imposes no real limitations on how many applications a candidate can submit. Reducing the number of overall applications might free the admissions offices to develop procedures that allow better vetting of candidates. One way this could be done might be to de-emphasize the common application – thus requiring a candidate to prepare a unique application for each school.

The UCA was intended to ease the burden on students in applying to colleges. The reality is that it has created a bit of a monster, as it’s made it much easier to submit multiple college applications. To be sure, a student still must pay an application fee – and that certainly serves as some check on indiscriminate applications. Nonetheless, an applicant can now apply to additional institutions merely by checking off extra boxes on the common application.

If colleges returned to requiring unique applications, students themselves might cut back on their applications. This result would reduce the number of applications that any institution would receive and vet, and could free up resources for the institution in turn to create a more detailed admissions process.

None of these marginal changes would create the education system that I believe we desperately need, one that reduces rather than exacerbates inequality.  But the system wouldn’t need to be perfect to be much much better than it is.

Yet Another Benefit of Adopting Free College: Reducing the Importance of Money in the Admissions Process

Although most of the most prestigious institutions follow a need-blind admissions policy, not all institutions do so. This obviously makes it easier for richer but less academically gifted students to secure university places.

We could go much farther than the free college plans currently proposed – which is limited to public institutions only. The broader such a benefit was defined, the more the influence of parental money in admissions decisions would be reduced.

What’s the alternative? The current status quo imposes considerable distortions, as discussed in this New York magazine piece, .

Reducing opportunities for such shenanigans would be a goal worth pursuing.

The Bottom Line

The latest indictments reveal a system where the rich can buy their way to a place. And that’s due to how extreme inequality has become. The difference between being well placed and not so well placed has much bigger consequences than before.

Some of these people are so rich that it makes not an iota of economic difference to the future economic comfort of their progeny whether or not they earn a degree or even attend university at all. But whether it matters to them or not, who wins and who loses under the current system should certainly matter to the rest of us.

We’re long overdue for a serious national discussion of the how the US university admissions system freezes the status quo and fosters inequality.

It should be added to the roster of issues to be considered now.

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87 comments

  1. shinola

    Good luck with taking athletic dept’s out of the selection/admissions process; at least in the US.

    Football (American style) &/or basketball are big time at many state U’s, both as donor draws and revenue generators.

    (A small quibble – the reports I’ve watched or read show the low end of this scheme starting at $15,000)

    Reply
    1. Yves Smith

      The revenue generator bit is a myth carefully cultivated by the schools. Looking at the top line diverts attention from the fact that most are money-losers:

      . From the snippet provided by USA Today”: “Big budget deficits are booming in college sports…”

      Reply
        1. Anon

          Part of the solution would be to remove competitive athletics altogether. Sports as set up in the NCAA is a farm system for some very rich businesses that are very corrupt. The corruption seeps into other areas of the school. Let the NFL develop its own farm system. This would also apply to High Schools, and the model would be hockey in Canada. Canadian Hockey, especially midget AAA is a gong show but at least it does not infect our high schools.

          Reply
        2. Martin Finnucane

          Murray Sperber wrote several books on the myth of college sports years ago. You may want to check your local library.

          Reply
      1. Larry

        While this is certainly true, sports still serve as a common occasion for Hoovering up donations from the alumni. I witnessed this first hand at Brown University, whose athletics are pathetically uncompetitive, even by Ivy League Standards. They care deeply about sports, especially football. They’ve recently been successful in turning a single night football game into a bacchanal that no doubt forges bonds amongst the students and a life long commitment to the university itself. And amazingly enough, wealthy donors care about the athletics program. I know of one football player who was flown all over the country by a wealthy alumni donor for reasons that are beyond me. So Brown most certainly “loses” money on running athletic programs, but in terms of alumni loyalty and incoming donations? I bet it’s a very positive impact on the bottom line.

        Reply
        1. ian

          Absolutely. I was at Brown too (in the late 70’s). I remember game weekends with limos parked outside Wriston quad while CEO alums were guzzling beer on the patios of Delta Tau and Toad Hall with the athletes.
          Oh yeah, those connections are very important.

          Reply
  2. NotTimothyGeithner

    I went to a public Ivy, a state school, so we can see the coaches salaries including the assistants. Given where the men’s bball coach lives, he’s rolling in dough and has job security (#1 seed!; yeah…I remember last year…). His assistants are well compensated. Those are really nice jobs, especially with the job security. Look at the salaries of less revenue heavy programs at my alma mater, those are good jobs. The cost of living isn’t crazy there, but the salaries are similar to the salaries at schools where the cost of living has been skyrocketing. One of the assistants has turned down offers to be a head coach because he has a good gig which is probably permanent as this assistant is also an alum, and if the boss heads to the NBA, he can slide over to top job.

    I wonder how many of the bribe takers wouldn’t have even considered the bribe in a sane housing market. They have kids too. They have pay for college somehow. I don’t want to excuse them, but the old Christian prayer says “lead us not into temptation.” If society was healthier, there would be less opportunities for these operations to run.

    Reply
    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Arguments about the economic boon businesses would feel is Medicare for All was passed ignore this power. If there is a better economic security, the asking price of the bribe would be higher. Why risk a good thing?

      Reply
    2. eg

      It’s tough to be a Hoo, I suppose — but think of it this way, there can only be one #1 overall seed to lose to a #16 seed for the very first time, eh?

      Reply
      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Didn’t Mr. Jefferson found the University because his doofus son couldn’t get into W&M?
        That’s what real players do! They don’t bribe the school.

        This might not be an endorsement, but Dick Nixon and Herbert Hoover went to relatively new colleges at the time. Duke Law was new, and Hoover was in the first class at Stanford. LBJ went to a small teaching college which part of UT El Paso now.

        Reply
  3. Kurtismayfield

    #1. Isn’t the real “crime” here is that the University was not in on the grift?

    #2. It has been obvious that spots at these Universities have been for sale for a long time to the rich and powerful. From Jared Kushner to Ms Malia Obama, the right connections and donations get you in. Why are these institutions still tax exempt when a number of the dionations that they receive are obviously bribes to curry favor?

    Reply
    1. Carolinian

      Supposedly the Harvard endowment has like a gazillion dollars and scarcely needs all those legacy payoffs at this point. Perhaps those donations are just a way of painting lipstick on the old boy/girl network that is really the object.

      At any rate here are a couple of links from the LAT. USC was at the heart of the scandal.

      Reply
    2. Harry

      Exactly right. There is the legitimate grift run by the College, where the additional funds get to senior administrators and capital projects, and then there was this rake off scheme, where the little guys got to wet their snouts in the trough for the little bucks.

      How dare they steal this money, when its rightfully people like Jack Lew who are meant to collect that loot.

      Reply
  4. Michael Fiorillo

    Oh, well, so much for “Meritocracy” under neo-liberalism…

    And to think that, in my not-so-little corner of the world, the TFA and other so-called education reform monsters who closed public schools and destroyed teacher’s lives were invariably described in the media as “the best and the brightest.”

    Also see: Schadenfreude, Bwa-Ha-Ha…

    Reply
  5. juliania

    I’m sure this is a good analysis of the problem for the most part. One area puzzles me however:

    “… The application – includes a meaningless 500 word essay and some 250 word additional essays. Mastering such a weird form demonstrates virtually nothing about a student’s ability… ”

    I’m a bit puzzled why the author thinks being able to write an essay is ‘mastering such a weird form’ when it comes to college or university applications. Maybe I’m way behind the times, but isn’t that really a fundamental requirement when it comes to higher education? If high schools are falling down on the responsibility to train students in this ability, won’t it be hard for them to achieve on a more sophisticated level?

    I hope I’m not sounding elitist in this respect. I attended a private college in days when even low income students had the opportunity to do that. Given such skills as being able to write an essay to demonstrate basic abilities learned in high school, on which to build in college. And most certainly my parents were not rich, though they could then have been designated “low to middle middle class”. I realize that category of animal has now become as extinct as the dodo.

    Reply
    1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

      No, let me clarify.

      It’s not the importance of the ability to write an essay I’m questioning. I’m instead objecting to the shortness of these required essays. I think it’s very difficult to write something interesting and revealing in such a small number of words. Far better that the essays be 1000 words, minimum. It’s the short length, rather than the form itself, that I think is weird.

      Reply
      1. Michael Fiorillo

        As a high school ESL and English teacher to recent immigrants in Queens, NY, I agree with Jerri-Lynn’s response.

        I helped hundreds of my students write college essays and pass gate-keeping exams that featured essay writing. The student body was made up entirely of recent immigrants, a large percentage of whom had not been in the country long to become proficient in academic English and it’s conventions.

        Nevertheless, we were very successful in getting those (hard-working and deserving) students to graduate high school and get accepted to college, by developing writing templates that allowed students to plug textual or personal details into a pre-existing form. It rarely makes for memorable writing, but it provides a bridge for English language learners to make their way towards competent writing and personal voice. In the case of gate-keeping exams, it also was a coping mechanism for tests that were grossly invalid for our student population, and an obstacle to richer language instruction.

        Similar templates can be used for native English speakers and their college essays, providing the 500-word “essay” with a work-around that’s much harder to achieve in a longer form.

        This, of course, refers to those students who are dutifully still writing their college essays and not contracting it out, either to Mom or Dad, or commercial entities.

        Like everything else in this society, higher education has devolved into a racket.

        Reply
        1. hunkerdown

          It’s an anecdote, but maybe others have heard of suchlike… one acquaintance of mine “edited” her boss’ fourth-grade daughter’s essays for side cash. Training for an empowered upper-middle future of taking credit for the work of others, no doubt.

          Reply
      2. John

        Pity the admissions officers with thousands of thousand word essays. Admissions tests are broken. When I took the College Board, I think that is what they were called, way back when if there was such a thing as a prep for it, I never heard of it. Now you have people making a buck prepping little kids for admission to elite pre-schools. The whole thing is nuts and it all revolves around a relative few prestigious college and even fewer highly regarded secondary schools.

        I wonder if a system like the draft lottery wouldn’t work just as well.

        Reply
        1. The Rev Kev

          I heard about how one Oxford professor processed exams a very, very long time ago. He would throw all the essays up in the air over a flight of stairs outside his room. Those that landed near the top of the stairs got the highest marks Those on the middle of the stairs got a middling mark. And those that went onto the landing and not on any of the stairs failed the exam outright.

          Reply
      3. ian

        On the contrary, having to write something interesting in 500 words is an interesting challenge.
        A lot like resume’s. The best ones I’ve seen from applicants where I work have all been less than 2 pages. It says a lot about your ability to organize your thoughts and communicate succinctly.

        Reply
        1. Yves Smith

          As a professional writer, as Jerri also is (she is the best paid columnist in India and is slumming at NC), I beg to differ. I have had to work in short formats and they do not test “writing ability”. They at best test ability to dumb down.

          Moreover, these essays test privilege. You can bet at a minimum the kids of educated parents had their parents edit them….or even insist on editing them. The parents could have written them or paid to have someone write or edit them.

          The only way to test for writing ability is to have the kids write an essay in a proctored setting.

          Reply
          1. Daniel

            Reasonable minds certainly can differ on this!

            I am a professional writer of a kind as well (I practice international arbitration, which is essentially all written advocacy, day in and day out). While I would adamantly agree that concise writing is not better writing as a rule, the exercise of identifying a topic that can be explored in a short essay and then condensing one’s thoughts into that format does measure an aspect of writing skill in a way that a long-form essay would not. The task of writing a sonnet is different from that of writing an epic; they flex different poetic muscles, and showcase different skills.

            I entirely agree on the separate point that unproctored essays of any length may not be useful for determining the skill of the named applicant, for the reasons you mention.

            Reply
      4. Oregoncharles

        @ Jerri-Lynn: my personal experience confirms your point in an odd way. I went to a demanding private high school, so I’d been writing essays and reports up to 45 pages long. Not sure my teachers actually appreciated that, now I look back, but they gave me decent grades.

        The first essay I was assigned in college was 650 words. Now, that was hard (and probably good exercise, but that wasn’t what they had in mind). I achieved that by drastic editing – essentially cutting most of the connective words. The teacher told me that I didn’t have to write poetry in order to write ABOUT ;poetry (ancient Greek tragedy, IIRC – it wasn’t an easy college, either). In fact, he’d rather I didn’t. So I went back to my long-winded habits.

        In brief: very short essays are harder, not easier. But they’re a lot easier to grade.

        Reply
  6. timbers

    Honestly, if people have so much extra $$$$ they can’t think of better ways to put it to good use than on this…they truly live a universe I have no knowledge of.

    Reply
    1. Tom Doak

      I’m just waiting for the first candidate to casually observe that these parents clearly could have afforded to pay more taxes. Way more! I’m betting it will be Sanders, by the weekend.

      Reply
  7. Acacia

    “the candidate was certified as suffering from a some form of disability and provided with extra time to take the test.”

    After a break of some years, I resumed teaching at an American university. Something changed: each semester, I now received multiple requests from “special needs” students who might need “extra time”. I assigned written essays, not tests, though, so the students themselves seldom asked for this. The university had so many of these requests that a special internal web site was created, for which we faculty had to register to process the paperwork. The students’ disabilities are never specified — faculty were not allowed to know —, but I never noticed anything “off” about the kids who made these special needs requests. I discovered that even the university officer in charge of these special needs students didn’t have access to the information, as their medical files were all considered private.

    In light of this scandal — which doesn’t surprise me at all, btw — I wonder how many of these special needs students gamed their way into the university and then continued to use the same doctor’s letter to backstop their way through every course.

    Reply
  8. ptb

    So these folks are too cheap or too poor to pay full price for a new building on campus, and some entrepreneur comes along and tries to undercut the Uni’s in their monopoly market… tisk tisk.

    This actually reminds me of this data for the 1980-1982 birth year census data, lined up vs college admissions:

    shows where kids went, vs parent income.

    shows where kids went, vs eventual kid income.

    And shows kid income vs parent income, vs school prestige level.

    All this is from this fellow’s , and . (I don’t want to get him in trouble, he was I think arguing that that the data shows there is not a correlation between parent income and kid income, but instead the correlation is kid income vs kid school-prestige-level.)

    Reply
    1. Felix_47

      Wow. Thanks. The chances on the far right are pretty much restricted to the Ivy League. If they were honest and interested in education they would set standards and randomize admissions. There may be some predictive value in grades but generally grades follow students who do what the teacher says. SAT may have some predictive value in terms of basic skills but overall there is an element of luck unless, as your graph shows, you go to an Ivy. I went to the Ivy League and I did not see much difference in the students compared to later non Ivy League experiences. They could have randomized to the third choice levels and ended up with the same class easily. The advantage being that the graduates would not be so arrogant. If the schools are just a financial scheme they are selling themselves cheap. How about open bidding for slots. The Arabs might be willing to pay 100 million per seat. Even the entire Harvard endowment is pocket change for the top echelon of of wealthy people. It is only 3 Billion….. Auction of freshman seats would juice the return mightily. But fairest would be a lottery and that way the losers would never feel they were less than adequate. And they could have a separate lottery for AA descendent of slaves children because what I am seeing is that the black kids they take are more often than not well off children of African immigrant professionals. I acknowledge that I live in an upscale area though so it is not representative.

      Reply
  9. NoOneInParticular

    Is there a way for applicants who were bumped because of these alleged cheaters to be made whole? Seems like it might be a delicious opportunity for litigation. The stakes, we are led to believe, are massive differences in lifetime earnings between big name school grads and the rest.

    Reply
    1. RUKidding

      No kidding! Even just the same amount busted in this way would’ve been a good start.

      As it is: a big fat zero.

      Thanks, Obama!

      Reply
      1. John

        But two high profile actresses were splashed as the poster children and from what I have seen Flicka Huffman paid the smallest amount. Nothing like a high profile perp walk to buff the US Attorney’s credentials.

        Reply
          1. RUKidding

            actually you’re correct, and – duh – I did notice that. And thanks bc I read here frequently, I did understand that.

            Still not the bankers who got us in trouble in 2008, however. Funny what gets noticed and acted on, but guess something is better than nothing.

            Reply
          2. John

            Fair point but this evening CNN in their story about Singer, the Soccer Coach, and the designated test taker bracketed each of their pictures with those of the actresses, who were not mentioned in the copy at all.

            Reply
  10. RUKidding

    None of this is particularly surprising. Of course, many of the same people with ton$ of money to game the system for their $pawn are the same voters who consistently complain about Affirmative Action inititiatives and how unfair they are, and how minorities are getting “something for nothing,” while “stealing” a University admission from a more “deserving & qualified” student. A-hem.

    OTOH, for some of these people it’s a bit perplexing why they’d spend so much money on getting their dumb (they must be dumb if they can’t get in on merit – right?) spawn into top tier Ivies. Why is that so necessary? Surely their rug rats could get into some other tertiary institution that would give them as good or better education? And almost the same ooomph to get ahead? I mean, their parents are already “connected,” so it’s not like their kids need to make their own career connections at an Ivy to get ahead? Plus I’m sure some of these spoiled brats have already spent their K-12 years in private schools, so don’t they already have their own richie-rich kid connections?

    Mystifying. I hope they all end up in the slammer.

    However, it’s the tip of the iceberg, and I doubt this will change much. The mega-rich have So. Much. Money. anymore that they’ll find other ways to cheat, steal, rob, plunder, pillage & game the system and still get away with it.

    I agree that Free College (or trade school or what have you) for all makes a lot of sense. It always has.

    Reply
    1. Temporarily Sane

      While I am certainly not going to weep for any of the scammers in question should they be sent to the slammer, fixing the underlying issue requires a more comprehensive solution. A system, in this case one that implicitly rewards sociopathic behavior, can’t be significantly reformed and improved by punishing individuals only. Unless we are prepared to make structural changes to the broken components that make up our society we will just end up running in circles “fixing” the same problems over and over again.

      It will be interesting to see how many of the new, supposedly progressive, Dems will recognize this fact and propose changing the system itself rather than simply punishing a few token scoundrels.

      Reply
  11. pictboy3

    Borrowed from a random internet comment, but the real scandal is that getting into an Ivy is considered a life or death decision by some people when the education is on par, perhaps even worse, than a very good state school.

    Reply
    1. Tom Doak

      The benefit of an Ivy League degree is more about the prestige and the connections, than it is about the education. It always has been.

      Reply
      1. wilroncanada

        Tom Doak
        Yes! I was just going to make a similar comment. The Ivy’s, the west coast tier 1’s, and now the Dixie mafia institutions which are filling the political, religious, and legal systems with cohorts of kids of privilege,

        Reply
  12. notabanker

    It looks like Olivia Jade’s Social Media influencer business is going to take a hit now that she will be deprived of the sports and partying university scene.

    There’s no reforming this stuff. It’s on the verge of collapse. It just needs to happen and deal with the consequences.

    Reply
  13. Geof

    Eliminating cheating and making schooling meritocratic will not fix the root problem: school itself. For the primary role of college is :

    As gatekeeper to the upper middle class, the elite university has as its primary social function the sorting of the population. . . . It detects existing inequalities, exacerbates them, and certifies them. And whatever else it does, it serves as a finishing school where the select learn to recognize one another, forging a class consciousness that has lately hardened into a de facto caste system.

    Don’t look to the successful products (as we are) of this system to do anything about it, or even see it coming. From an about Christophe Guilluy and the unmaking of France:

    Never have conditions been more favorable for deluding a class of fortunate people into thinking that they owe their privilege to being nicer, or smarter, or more honest, than everyone else. Why would they think otherwise? They never meet anyone who disagrees with them.

    This is why no-one seems to much care that school “,” as Bryan Caplan argues. Why those of us who have taught find the vast majority of students care only about grades, not material. They spend much to learn little if anything: because the real value we receive is the passport to society.

    The student loan crisis is a feature twice over: first for extracting value, second because it protects the privileges of the technocratic professional class described by Thomas Frank. (It is no accident that this class is furiously redefining “privilege” to mean anything but what they have – and what the universities, ground zero for the redefinition, produce.)

    The pupil is . . . “schooled” to confuse teaching with learning, grade advancement with education, a diploma with competence, and fluency with the ability to say something new. His imagination is “schooled” to accept service in place of value. Medical treatment is mistaken for health care, social work for the improvement of community life, police protection for safety, military poise for national security, the rate race for productive work. Health, learning, dignity, independence, and creative endeavor are defined as little more than the performance of the institutions which claim to serve these ends, and their improvement is made to depend on allocating more resources to the management of hospitals, schools, and other agencies in question. (Ivan Illich, Deschooling Society, 1970)

    We are told repeatedly that more education is the solution to the world’s problems. Well, we are the most schooled that we have ever been. Look where it has got us. Illich proposes real reform. From the jacket of Deschooling Society:

    legal protection from the obligatory, graded curriculum; laws forbidding discrimination on the basis of prior schooling; the formation of skill centers where useful skills can be learned, taught by those best equipped to teach them; peer-matching by which the learned may share their knowledge with those seeking instruction. Illich feels such radicalized measures are necessary to turn civilization from its headlong rush toward the violence frustrated expectations will certainly unleash so long as the school myth is allowed to persist.

    Reply
    1. Geof

      I can’t believe I forgot this excellent line:

      This is the first commandment of the professional class: Everyone gets what they deserve, and what they deserve is defined by how they did at school.

      Reply
    2. jrs

      as social policy: can we dispense with equal opportunity already, and just get to the point where we start to talk about equality of results? (that an opportunities will take care of themselves anyway)

      (school as education is an entirely different discussion of course than the leveling of economic results, which is the first thing that needs to happen)

      Reply
    3. djrichard

      Hat tip to Aaron Maté retweeting this:

      The real scandal isn’t all the unethical shenanigans rich parents will engage in to keep their failsons and faildaughters from tumbling down the socioeconomic ladder — it’s that we use adolescents’ test scores to ration economic security in the first place.

      Reply
    4. bmeisen

      The American problem is a liberal educational model (your “school”) crowned by an elite system of higher education that is dominated by private institutions. These institutions use a meritocratic deceit embedded in a market ideology that exploits the American exceptionalist delusion while leveraging a “gatekeeper” role to buttress the privileges and power of administrators and their wealthy clientele. France is a poor counter-example because they crown a liberal educational model with an elite system of higher education that is dominated by public institutions. While the market ideology is less pernicious in the French system, the result buttresses the privileges and power of (public) administrators and a wealthy clientele – not much different from the American model. There’s corrupted meritocracy and even a French exceptionalist factor.

      A more useful counter-example would be any of the northern European systems that reject elite formations in higher education. These systems are characterized by public institutions, free tuition and extensive public non-debt subsidies that pay for students’ living costs while they are studying. The results are more genuinely meritocratic and democratic than the two systems you refer to.

      There is no escaping class formation – all human societies exhibit degrees of natural and unnatural stratification. Formal education is beneficial to the individual because she learns things that she can’t teach herself, like reading and writing. It is also beneficial to society. There are at least 2 benefits: first an effective educational system can facilitate a process of formal qualification (aka stratification) that is meritocratic, democratic and sustainable, and second an educational system can provide training in critical skill sets. Class formation happens and the challenge is to establish a system of education that counteracts the danger of concentrated power and wealth seeking to perpetuate its privileges at the expense of the commonweal, as has happened in the USA.

      Reply
  14. Joe Well

    A really delicious aspect of this is the class conflict between the lower or middling rungs of the 1% and the .1% who can donate buildings and endow chairs.

    Alumni of the Ivy League are scandalized by people “buying their way in” through donations (Jared Kushner the poster boy for this), and yet by and large they refuse to criticize legacy admissions (from which they benefit) even though both tend toward the same result and are similarly unfair. If you can make a coherent argument in favor of legacy admissions and against preferences to donors I’d love to hear it.

    Reply
      1. Another Scott

        My guess is that while the federal government couldn’t outlaw them, they could make eligibility for any government spending dependent upon prohibiting legacy and donation-based admissions. However, that would require an act of Congress, and how many of them have benefited from these policies, whether for themselves or their children?

        Reply
      2. Joe Well

        This is one of the issues being addressed by the : do legacy preferences constitute racial discrimination since those students are overwhelmingly white?

        Reply
  15. Tom Doak

    I will be amazed if many of the parents get more than a slap on the wrist when things all shake out. It’s white collar crime after all.

    If they do get any sentence they’ll realize they should have hired Paul Manafort’s defense team.

    Reply
  16. DHG

    A loss of individual and collective morality is the cause and bribing colleges is a time honored tradition just in a different way.

    Reply
  17. Craig H.

    This actually might be a blessing for the University of Spoiled Children. I was surprised to learn that it is pretty high on the

    $56 225 per year. Aye carumba.

    Did O. J. Simpson ever graduate?

    Reply
  18. voteforno6

    I understand the desire to not punish the children of these people – I even agree with that sentiment, at least a little bit. A lot of them, if not most, are probably innocent here, in the narrowest sense. At their ages, though, I doubt this is really the first time that they’ve ever benefited from the unconscious privilege that comes with being the progeny of the rich and sort-of famous. By this point in their lives, some of them may feel like they’re entitled to it. Are they so clueless that, with all their advantages in life, they weren’t able to make it in through the front door to these universities, getting in they ways that they did wasn’t in some way related to the stature of their parents? I doubt it. So, I think they should be punished as well. Yes, it’s not fair, and that’s the point. Life isn’t fair. Them suffering for the misdeeds of their parents would put them in the same boat as so many other people, who come from a much humbler station in life.

    Another point: I think this event, and the Kavanaugh hearings last fall are both clarifying moments. We’ve been able to peek behind the curtain, at what these so-called elites are really like. They’re certainly no better than the rest of us.

    Reply
    1. Another Scott

      If these students had someone sit for them at the ACT/SAT, then at the very least they committed perjury, as those are signed (at least the SAT is) with language to that effect. If those students then submitted applications using the test scores, it’s very likely that they could be charged with fraud. Should they be charged? Should the schools expel them for fraudulent applications?

      Reply
  19. Gregorio

    What’s wrong with a little affirmative action to like get rich young “media influencers” into a bitch’n party school? I mean it would like totally suck to like have to go to a community college with a bunch of trailer trash that like shops at Target.

    Reply
  20. dk

    I think there is an additional factor that shouldn’t be overlooked; promotion of students absent the nominally required academic (or, I guess, athletic) merit results in the promotion and empowerment of possibly unqualified individuals to positions of power and authority, on the basis of their family’s wealth.

    This could contribute to a phenomenon I have observed many times: corporate executives unable (or at least unwilling) to comprehend the physics and math behind the technologies their own companies produce, and thus incapable of making rational decisions about their products’ development and production. These execs are vulnerable to fraudulent actors promoting vaporeal technologies and insane but assuredly “cheaper”/”better” production methods.

    All of these execs had advanced degrees on their office walls (though mostly in non-technical fields). Over the years I’ve encountered claims like:
    – You can’t stream database data over the Internet, it scrambles the data. This from the owner (and putative author) of an IP communication library I was already successfully using to stream databases to clients. His own product, and he said it wouldn’t work for anything other than text.
    – Storage of digital audio can’t accumulate terabytes of data, only video can do that (it was 1989, so I had to explain what a terabyte was).
    – Any radio frequency can pass through any walls/obstructions without loss of signal. Microwave transmission does not require line-of-sight. The exec had numerous engineering degrees on their wall.
    – We can recognize our signal at the receiving end because we already know what information it is carrying, we just need to filter out everything else that doesn’t match.
    – Shorter source code executes faster. Assembly language is slower because it has to be compiled first. Ergo, you can’t write in-line assembler to improve performance.

    Naturally, preference and promotion only went to those who agreed with these executive’s statements. One of these prefered/promoted told me “It doesn’t matter what you think, you’re just a tech.We know what we’re doing, you just don’t get it.”

    TL;DR my point is, promotion without the education and skill required for responsible management puts our technological infrastructure, and by extension our society and its citizens, at direct and eventual risk. The top tier gets paid whether they succeed or not, and the costs and penalties of error and failure are passed down to the consuming public. Cheating and lying makes no impression on physics, but those that short-circuit their own education lack the knowledge and experience to recognize it.

    Reply
  21. gearandgrit

    The funny part, is that these wealthy people weren’t wealthy enough to buy their guaranteed admission the way the billionaire class does. Buying a building on campus and slapping your name on it will guarantee your kids and their children admission, but that requires gifts in the tens of millions. These poor plebs couldn’t afford the approved forms of grifting.

    Reply
    1. jrs

      were they rich enough that their kids never need to work a day in their life? Probably. But if so, why does schooling, much less prestigious schooling, even matter? It doesn’t in any sense the rest of us could fathom.

      Ah yes the never ending pursuit of not just enough but ever more money that animates our elite, greed in other words, that’s probably most of it, for some status.

      Reply
      1. jrs

        most go the greed path, getting into some money grubbing something, probably, gotta increase that family wealth down the generations.

        For a few kids of the elite it’s so they can have extra interesting jobs, that the rest of us can only dream of. Now get to work: Arbeit macht frei

        Reply
  22. Summer

    What if the real answer is outside of schools?

    Employers, clients, etc should broaden their horizons for people outside of these institutions.

    This elitism only works if the institutions outside of higher ed are discriminating so much on one metric.

    Reply
    1. Summer

      Post-haste, any institution or businesss should implement caps on having numbers of grad from the same colleges – in direct response to this.
      But how many higher ups at these companies are from the same back slapping club?

      Reply
  23. The Rev Kev

    If they really wanted a fairer system that would set up blind tests. That is, each student would be reduced to a number and only their academic record would be considered. A battery of tests could be set up to see how much of their academic training actually took hold on them and on the basis of this all, those most qualified students would be. The students would then be notified with their record and test results published so that people could see that there was no funny business going on. Of course a system like this would have never given someone like George W. Bush a place as he was a C student but sacrifices have to be made if America is going to be going head to head with competitor nations that also value education.

    Reply
    1. PlutoniumKun

      This is . All final results are fed into a computer and places allocated according to the students listing a 1-10 of preferences.

      Its not perfect, but its very difficult to game. Ironically, it benefits the children of immigrants as they can sit exams in their native languages for extra points.

      Reply
  24. Ben Meng

    I wonder if there is a connection between CalPERS, TPG Rise, McGlashen, the former CIO of CalPERS Ted E., and the CEO of CalPERS (Marcie Frost)?

    YES! YES! YES!

    I wonder if CalPERS will commit to Rise II?

    I wonder if Marcie will represent CalPERS on TPG Rise’s Advisory Board?

    There are many more questions to ask about the relationship between CalPERS, CalPERS Board, TPG Rise, Ted E. and others.

    The connection between CIM, CalPERS Board, Ted E, Marcie Frost, and CIM is even more interesting!

    Reply
    1. John Cole

      Wow. Doesn’t CIM owe CalPERS $65 million from the pay to pay scandal? How much has CIM paid?

      The press and bloggers are really stupid for not having followed up on this. How many yearly average pensions could have been paid by collecting i the $65 million?

      Reply
      1. Yves Smith

        Please note that we are highly confident that these are not comments from either Ben Meng or John Cole, even though whoever posted these comments knows their e-mail addresses and supplied them correctly. Whoever, this is, if you have CalPERS gossip or speculation, don’t impersonate real people. Use a handle.

        Reply
  25. integer

    Check out the 30 second video of Lori Loughlin’s daughter talking about going to college that is embedded in . Lol.

    Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      Good find that video and yes, it is amazing. Now a question for anybody that might know. Is the real purpose of Olivia Jade Loughlin going to the University of Southern California just to get her ticket punched on her eventual resume or is it a matter of using the social life to accumulate a list of s that will help her after they have all finished college? Or is it a combination of the two?
      Did find after a bit of reading that she has brand deals with partners including Amazon, Dolce & Gabbana, Lulus, Marc Jacobs Beauty, Sephora, Smashbox Beauty Cosmetics, Smile Direct Club, Too Faced Cosmetics, Boohoo, and Unilever’s TRESemmé though HP has pulled out of the deal. That might explain all those trips to jobs in Italy and New York that she said that she had to take. I wonder if she can be canned from USC for non-attendance of class though.

      Reply
        1. integer

          Seems like a fairly dubious premise if you ask me. USC only accepts about 20% of applicants per year, so there’s clearly no shortage of demand.

          Reply
  26. djrichard

    Article from today which makes me think of this same topic:

    “Why should I sacrifice and work so hard if I might not be in control?’’ Page told Google director Paul Otellini

    Because college is nothing if not sacrifice. Even for those who get in via the side and back entrance to some degree.

    And what does Page want at the end of the day? What is he sacrificing for? Power. Or more narrowly: authority. But to be even more specific than that I’d say he’s sacrificing to be the high priest of the church he’s established.

    And that in my mind is what college is all about today. College kids are sacrificing for the same thing Page wants. Maybe not to be a pope or head of the priesthood like Page wants. But certainly to be somewhere in a church hierarchy. And that’s what college has to offer them: to provide them the means to matriculate into the upper reaches of the church hierarchy as those churches exist today in society … in those places where the authority resides: corporations, the Fed Gov, the colleges/universities themselves (admin / tenured positions), etc.

    Ah, but the churches aren’t as holy and pure as everyone was led to believe. That’s OK, do whatever is needed to cast out that which is corrupt. Whatever it takes for them to salvage the authority that made them the churches they are. Because if we don’t salvage their authority, then where does our authority come from?

    If it wasn’t for the dot.com bubble followed by the GFC, I’d still have religion. I don’t think the powers that be understand how much they screwed the pooch on this, cause I don’t think I’m alone. At first I was angry. I thought, “OK this is still recoverable. We can still make this work.” I was still a “true believer”. No more.

    Reply
  27. tokyodamage

    Sorry if someone’s already mentioned this in the comments: isn’t the real goal to make a society where you don’t need a college degree in order to get a good job in the first place? That alone would reduce competition to get into a lot of universities.

    But, how do you accomplish that goal? I mean, this is one problem that can’t be solved just by taking an axe to college administrators. As NC readers know, Business owners from coast to coast are demanding diplomas for jobs that didn’t need a diploma 40 years ago. So what should the government do? Go door-to-door and force all small business owners to hire high school grads? Has anyone heard any better ideas?

    Back to college: Abolish university sports as anything other than a hobby. Who benefits from college sports: the sports administrators, sports TV shows, gamblers, stadium construction companies, alumni. . . everyone BUT the kids, who are forbidden from even being paid. How about this: If you want to play basketball, you can use the rec room after the chess club is done for the day. I can dream, can’t I.

    I’m worried about Bernie’s ‘free college’ promise, though: say he passes it into law. . . now that colleges have access to Uncle Sam’s bottomless pockets, what’s to stop them from increasing tuition at an even faster rate? Has Bernie ever said how he’d stop that from happening?

    Reply
  28. Rosario

    Though I feel for the honest students at these schools, I’m pretty happy I graduated from a mediocre state college in the new gilded age. Maybe not the “best” education in the world, but I won’t have to deal with the suspicion from the working class that I might be an entitled, pretentious asshole.

    It is really a shame for all the students that did bust their butts to get into these schools to, I would assume, get the best possible education they could. Same for the professors working there. The worst thing about corruption is how the rot affects everyone.

    Reply
  29. Sk

    “… as ONE WISE OBSERVER COMMENTED, it’s perhaps unfair to make a a teenaged applicant take the fall for the mistakes of the parents… I think the prosecutors have it right here, in going after the parents only… As TO THE STUDENTS, I’m not sure WHAT I’D DO…”

    It is pretty funny to see people taking righteous high moral road when it comes to kids of their own kind.
    Folks, remember, THIS IS like DACA of superior AMERICAN PEOPLE: financially, racially, morally.

    Yes, DACA, about 1 MILLION YOUTHS hanging in the USA, brought as children by their IMMIGRANT PARENTS from, as Trump would say, shithole countries. Can we do the same kicking around to wealthy american students for the crimes of their parents?

    I also wonder if there were similar reasons why, per his attorney Cohen, president Donald TRUMP threatened legal action against his schools if his grades and performance scores were disclosed to the public?
    Just a thought!

    Reply
  30. DSB

    “As to the students, I’m not sure what I’d do. Perhaps I’m a bit of a softie. Readers: what do you think?”

    I think it would be great if the young adults still enrolled voluntarily withdrew. Wouldn’t that send a wonderful message to the parents who allegedly violated the law to advance their child ahead of others.

    Let’s imagine the conversation with students who don’t voluntarily withdraw. It goes something like; Well your parent(s) committed fraud which is punishable with fines and prison terms up to 20-years. They possibly violated federal tax laws. They most definitely set a horrible example for you and others, but we are going to overlook that and let you continue your studies at our exceedingly expensive institution of higher learning. I think NOT.

    Any administrator that doesn’t take corrective action is putting their school brand at greater risk.

    Every day children either receive the benefit (hopefully) or experience the consequences of their parents decisions. Why should these young adults get a “pass” on suffering the consequences of their parents decision? [Child living in squalor because their parent has a drug problem for example.]

    So in answer to your question, every one of these young adults that don’t voluntarily withdraw should be allowed to finish out the school session they are enrolled for (I’m a “softie” too). Any courses passed during their time at the school should allow the student to receive the credit earned, but the grade point average for all credited classes should be at 0.00. To do anything less reinforces the bad example set by the parent(s).

    As for graduates, I don’t think you can take away the degree. However, I believe the official transcript should be changed to 0.00 for all passed courses. The young adult should they do anything requiring a copy of the transcript will have some explaining to do.

    This is not the only bad actor in the college consulting space. It would also be naive to think that the cheating was restricted to the entrance process. I have a friend who is a Stanford graduate. I vividly remember him telling me how much he loved their “honor code” that allowed a student to pick up a test and take it anywhere to be completed so long as they returned the test to the classroom at a predetermined time.

    The schools have some serious work ahead of them. Parents too.

    Reply
  31. Liberal Mole

    Speaking from our own experience, the MIT coaches can do no more than put your child’s name on a list they submit to Admissions. I don’t see a problem with this because unless the admissions people want to track down every sporting statistic they wouldn’t possibly know whether an applicant really is a long jump wunderkind or a kid who just put that on his resume. The trick may be in not giving coaches, or any other recommender, a final say. The few Ivies that we visited granted their coaches only a few slots, like one or two, and even then the applicant needed to have an academic record on par with the school’s norms. Of course our information may be incorrect because the sport our child was interested in is neither a money maker nor spectator friendly; there might be slots aplenty for football or hockey or soccer players.

    Reply

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