Why the Varsity Blues Admissions Scandal Matters

Unfortunately, I was dealing with a family tragedy when the college admissions scandal broke last March, so I didn't write about it extensively at that time. Suffice it to say, though, that it sickened me for reasons too many to enumerate. What a world we live in when privileged parents are so desperate as to feel they must cheat egregiously for their children to get ahead in life...

To top it all off, Rick Singer did my profession a grave disservice, because everyone I know who does this work is a highly ethical person and does NOT employ "side doors." That's not what the public thinks anymore, however....

The irony of this whole scandal is that the entities and people who have walked away from this "scot free" are the college administrators who I believe were absolutely aware of the great amounts of money changing hands to get privileged children in the door unethically. I know in my gut that many of them were aware of exactly what was going on and chose to look the other way, so that their universities benefitted financially. And parents and coaches are going to jail, but college executives? Not so much.

Anyway, the repercussions are still being felt. For one, even more schools than usual are questioning the value and validity of standardized tests and as you may have read, the UCs are considering going "test optional," beginning with the Class of 2022. Read more about that here:


And this week, we have the following article from Bloomberg News about Yale, Pomona, and Bowdoin (with others to follow) starting to use "spot checks" to assess the accuracy of athletic and other extracurricular achievements reported by this year's seniors on their applications. You can read about that here:


Note that the article quotes the word "embellishments" twice; clearly, brutal honesty about student achievements is ALWAYS the best policy. 

Check with your senior to ensure that they did not knowingly or inadvertently embellish their accomplishments on their applicants, as this is grounds for invalidation of the application or rescission of an admissions offer. IF they believe they honestly made a mistake, it is very simple to correct; simply have them send an email to the admissions offices of the schools to which they have applied acknowledging that a mistake has been made, which the student would like to correct. Errors are sometimes made inadvertently in reporting grades, scores, achievements, etc. Admissions offices recognize this and are happy to accept application revisions, as necessary.

Of course, as your IEC, I tried to catch all application errors I saw. Sometimes, however, I will be unaware of an error - for example, in the case of an extracurricular embellishment or incorrect reporting of an honor or award.

Yes, the competition is stiff, but it is already stacked against the less privileged, through the use of legacy policy admissions and expensive test prep and extracurricular opportunities for wealthier kids. In the end, however, admissions should ALWAYS be based on merit; I think we can all agree that this is the hallmark of a just, equitable system of higher education in a democratic society. 

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