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Actresses, CEOs arrested in nationwide college admissions cheating scam

Oct 25, 2017
336
since this broke i've seen a few children of privilege reflecting on their own experiences with access to education on twitter:


a casual reminder that lots of upper middle class parents (perfectly legally) improve their kids’ SAT scores by paying tutors to teach them to game the system. mine did. my math score jumped almost 200 points, which i promise reflected no similar increase in my command of *math*

without that systemic leg up, i doubt i would have gotten into yale, from which i graduated with honors etc. i was exactly the same applicant pre & post tutoring. i just looked different on paper. well aware most of my peers’ families could not afford to give them that advantage.


Having a dad whose name can get you into college is nice but having a mother as wonderfully supportive and sweet as @jeramiedreyfuss is way better

the screenshot of his convo with his mom where she swears up and down that he got into college on his own merits really illustrates the divide between generations and how we reckon with the concept of privilege.
Man on one hand I appreciate the self-awareness of these kids. They seem to get it. On the other hand, while I feel like that mom has good intentions, I can't help but feel she would feel much differently about a poor person or a minority being kicked out of high school and struggling with drug problems.
 
Oct 25, 2017
669
Why didnt Aunt Becky just donate a building?

Simple. Her kid is a dumbass. The more stupid the kid, the bigger the building.

Good grades + building= gets in

Bad grades + building= the uni gets a shiny new building but the kid doesnt get in. But thanks for your donation!

I read the kid's Instagram and it's obvious she's been a mediocre student and simply doesn't care since she found YouTube at age 14. It would have been too expensive if a kid has been floundering since middle school. And it was $500,000 for 2 kids, so 250k per kid, cheaper than a building.
True, just donating a building isn't enough if the grades and scores aren't anywhere near what they should be. But sports have lower academic requirements. And Aunt Becky tried to get her kid in by faking her kid's athletic history and performance.

In addition the rich paying for private SAT tutors, that teach how to take the SAT test.

And my assumptions could be completely wrong. However, it was always my assumption that the sort of wealthy elite that can afford to donate a building to the school, ALSO would generally pay in the previous years to have their kid privately instructed in some type of rich person's sport that their desired school offered.

I always thought both those things went hand and hand and were directly part of the legal way the rich have setup to pay for their kids to get into a school. So the admitting college that got enough money for a building, could still admit a rich kid with lower academic performance because they're joining whatever team.

But that still would've required some foresight, and planning from the parents to setup and pay for years of private instruction AND effort from the kid to at least be dedicated enough to become semi-competent in whatever sport.


Aunt Becky just had her kid take a fake photo next to a rowing machine, and directly bribed the college coaches.
 
Yeah, they really need to revamp these standardized tests, because knowing how they're set up and the strategy to tackle the problems are a huge leg up.
It's a little weird to me that Americans still seem to be so obsessed with standardised testing - SAT, GRE etc. Pretty much nobody else incorporates standardised testing into their tertiary admissions as much as the US does.

Where I come from, it's just a flat percentile system. Every subject gives you a score based on how you do relative to everyone else taking that subject and how difficult that subject is perceived to be and you receive a score at the end depending on how well you do overall relative to everybody else in the state. Universities set cut-offs at certain percentiles and that's about it - you either do better than everybody else, or you don't. Getting into high-demand courses like Law or Med typically requires a score in the 99.95 percentile.

Granted, the system is still completely rigged as private schools know how to game the system and produce scores leagues beyond state schools such that private school kids account for over 60% of university students.
 
Oct 27, 2017
10,448
For those who got in via athletics, that means they got scholarships, right? Taking them from actual deserving applicants?
Not necessarily, just that they were given admittance on the assumption they would play for the team, especially considering the sports they were lying about playing. Most college athletes aren't on scholarship.

They were still taking admittance spots from students who might actually play those sports though.
 
Oct 27, 2017
10,448
I thought this was the case but was told otherwise by someone else. Thanks.
No problem, it's a common misconception. The schools would also be way more involved in the process and discovered the fraud almost immediately if scholarships were involved. Schools aren't going to give you thousands of dollars and not even check to see if you are playing the sport.

Whereas in most of these cases, the school was simply admitting them, aka granting the student attending the priviledge of them paying tuition, attending class, and simply being on the team. There is way more oversight when school money is involved, for obvious reasons.
 
Oct 25, 2017
968
I laugh at this. How is this news to people? I always knew the rich kids were getting in and getting better opportunities because of the influence and power their parents had. This is not new. Money talks. Plain and simple.
It should be major news given some poor parents have been locked up for simply changing school districts to give their kids a better chance at a better education.
 
Nov 30, 2017
944
This is all true but I find it hard to believe there isn't a single top school who would want to admit a potential student with a 2 million subscriber YouTube channel. The girl is already running a successful business, that's what makes this so mindboggling.
But then you’ve got other kids running their own Youtube channels. College admissions are too competitive especially since undergrad Ivy League is basically just Rockefeller Daycare.

Support state schools! I wish I chose to go to one and I regret not.
 
Oct 27, 2017
2,497
Wasn't this a Gossip Girl storyline?
Lip took the SAT for a bunch of kids at his shitty Southside Chicago high school in Season 1 of Shameless for like $100 a pop, produced too many abnormally high scores, and attracted the attention of the College Board auditors.

You know, Shameless, where William H. Macy has been the lead name for 9 seasons now.
 
Oct 25, 2017
1,055
I laugh at this. How is this news to people? I always knew the rich kids were getting in and getting better opportunities because of the influence and power their parents had. This is not new. Money talks. Plain and simple.
Yes, but this is different, as described by the guy who ran the scheme. At least read the story before declaring your omniscience.
 
Oct 27, 2017
2,907
The worst part is these parents probably did it more for their own selfish prestige so they could brag to their other rich friends about where their children went to school. They know fully well most of their kids aren't interested in college for any intellectual fulfillment or future job prospects. They're all spoiled, trust fund babies.
 
Nov 1, 2017
1,628
It's a little weird to me that Americans still seem to be so obsessed with standardised testing - SAT, GRE etc. Pretty much nobody else incorporates standardised testing into their tertiary admissions as much as the US does.

Where I come from, it's just a flat percentile system. Every subject gives you a score based on how you do relative to everyone else taking that subject and how difficult that subject is perceived to be and you receive a score at the end depending on how well you do overall relative to everybody else in the state. Universities set cut-offs at certain percentiles and that's about it - you either do better than everybody else, or you don't. Getting into high-demand courses like Law or Med typically requires a score in the 99.95 percentile.

Granted, the system is still completely rigged as private schools know how to game the system and produce scores leagues beyond state schools such that private school kids account for over 60% of university students.
Gaokao in China is a far bigger deal than SATs are in the US. Students in South Korea have also committed suicide over the pressure of taking the CSAT. The US testing culture sucks but a lot of counties in Asia are as bad or worse.
 
Oct 25, 2017
2,786
Gaokao in China is a far bigger deal than SATs are in the US. Students in South Korea have also committed suicide over the pressure of taking the CSAT. The US testing culture sucks but a lot of counties in Asia are as bad or worse.
Frankly, anywhere that testing or percentages are the means to higher education you're going to get people trying to subvert the system, learn test-taking rather than critical thinking, etc.

It's a fundamentally flawed paradigm that exists because taking a holistic (in the classical sense) approach becomes difficult, time-consuming, and resource-consuming endeavor when you have to not evaluate millions of new students every year nationwide, but millions more as so few people are going to apply to only one place.

To give an idea, when I taught college composition you're entry-level class, either Comp 1 or being bumped to Comp 2 or lowered to a remedial class, was dependent entirely on your application essay. A single data point. How many kids got put in the wrong class because that single sample wasn't entirely representative? How many got bumped up by having someone else write it? How many got bumped up by virtue of being able to take extra time writing compared to having to pump out essay after essay for class?

I routinely had Comp 1 students who did not belong in my class, on either end of the spectrum, and Comp 2 students who clearly got a break.

Because our evaluation methods are awful. But they're the only ones we can reasonably use in the current environment.

I'll expand this out to graduate schools, which routinely only look at transcripts and letters of recommendation, when we really ought to require interviews similar to employment. I came across scores of graduate students straight out of undergrad who had neither the temperament nor maturity to handle grad-level courses, let alone the requirement to teach, TA, or oversee labs. That could have been filtered out so easily by conducting interviews, but few schools have the resources or impetus to do so.

So, instead, we rely on standardized testing and making sure a student has "done a lot", just filling in lines on a CV with bullshit extracurriculars that are afforded to those with the most leisure time or money to be able to pursue them. That's not to denigrate meaningful extracurricular activity, but those rarely speak to a student's true competence or capabilities.
 
Oct 25, 2017
2,786
Japan also goes nuts for high school and college entrance exams.
The only real defense I have of American standardized tests is that, at least most of the time, a really good or really bad score doesn't entirely lock you into a path for your entire life. If your SATs or ACTs went a bit wonky, you can still put forth a decent GPA or demonstrate your abilities in other activities.

I'll take that any day over a system where earning a low score on a single test when you're 16 can automatically lock you out of upper education.
 
It's a little weird to me that Americans still seem to be so obsessed with standardised testing - SAT, GRE etc. Pretty much nobody else incorporates standardised testing into their tertiary admissions as much as the US does.

Where I come from, it's just a flat percentile system. Every subject gives you a score based on how you do relative to everyone else taking that subject and how difficult that subject is perceived to be and you receive a score at the end depending on how well you do overall relative to everybody else in the state. Universities set cut-offs at certain percentiles and that's about it - you either do better than everybody else, or you don't. Getting into high-demand courses like Law or Med typically requires a score in the 99.95 percentile.

Granted, the system is still completely rigged as private schools know how to game the system and produce scores leagues beyond state schools such that private school kids account for over 60% of university students.
Isn't that even less fair though? Like, yes, you get by on your grades. But at the same time, that means that anybody who ever made a mistake, had a bad semester or a year (maybe they were dealing with stress) can't get a Law or Med degree. At least the US system uses more than one metric to measure academic merit, even if it is gameable to some degree. I mean, tbh if you're a complete dunce then no amount of prep course tutoring is gonna raise your score so that you can get into Harvard.

At any rate, a lot of programs are moving away from the GRE for grad school regardless.
 
Oct 25, 2017
2,786
Isn't that even less fair though? Like, yes, you get by on your grades. But at the same time, that means that anybody who ever made a mistake, had a bad semester or a year (maybe they were dealing with stress) can't get a Law or Med degree. At least the US system uses more than one metric to measure academic merit, even if it is gameable to some degree. I mean, tbh if you're a complete dunce then no amount of prep course tutoring is gonna raise your score so that you can get into Harvard.

At any rate, a lot of programs are moving away from the GRE for grad school regardless.
Not only that, but the US university system is very amenable to students coming back to school later in life with new credentials, new scores, and higher maturity. I worked with and have tutored/taught numerous people who come back to school in their 20s, 30s, and beyond that wouldn't have had the ability to do so at 18.

Again, I can criticize a lot of the American education system from primary school to upper education, but we do have a system that recognizes that people can continue to grow and learn even after they turn 18.
 
Oct 25, 2017
3,173
It's a little weird to me that Americans still seem to be so obsessed with standardised testing - SAT, GRE etc. Pretty much nobody else incorporates standardised testing into their tertiary admissions as much as the US does.

Where I come from, it's just a flat percentile system. Every subject gives you a score based on how you do relative to everyone else taking that subject and how difficult that subject is perceived to be and you receive a score at the end depending on how well you do overall relative to everybody else in the state. Universities set cut-offs at certain percentiles and that's about it - you either do better than everybody else, or you don't. Getting into high-demand courses like Law or Med typically requires a score in the 99.95 percentile.

Granted, the system is still completely rigged as private schools know how to game the system and produce scores leagues beyond state schools such that private school kids account for over 60% of university students.
Considering how much money flows through those bullshit tests I'm not surprised at all that America is obsessed with it.
 
Oct 25, 2017
12,945
The only real defense I have of American standardized tests is that, at least most of the time, a really good or really bad score doesn't entirely lock you into a path for your entire life. If your SATs or ACTs went a bit wonky, you can still put forth a decent GPA or demonstrate your abilities in other activities.

I'll take that any day over a system where earning a low score on a single test when you're 16 can automatically lock you out of upper education.
Agreed.

I'm a very good test taker, but I know very smart people who aren't. The valedictorian and salutatorian of my high school class both scored in the 1200s on the SATs. I know someone who was in the top 10 of his public high school class who didn't get into his top private high school because he didn't do well enough on the entrance exam. My cousin, who was #3 in her small class of about 30 or so, also didn't do so hot on the SATs.

All of these people went on to grad school and are now very successful in their careers. Actually, all of them are in healthcare in some way.
 

Pau

Self-Appointed Godmother of Bruce Wayne's Children
Moderator
Oct 25, 2017
1,605
I laugh at this. How is this news to people? I always knew the rich kids were getting in and getting better opportunities because of the influence and power their parents had. This is not new. Money talks. Plain and simple.
It's something I've tried telling my family again and again, but they didn't believe it until now.
 
Oct 25, 2017
4,891
I did read the story, and I don't see how what I said is invalid. They got caught cheating but I'm pretty sure there are countless others doing similar shit to get their kids to the best schools.
Not really though. The whole reason this came about is because the traditional way, donations, still wasn't a guarantee of admittance.
 
Oct 25, 2017
3,173
The SAT convo hits hard because i struggled so much with SATs. I got As in all my math courses. i got As or A-s in all calculus courses all the way up to Calc IV differential equations.

My SAT math scores were pathetic. english was even worse. i just didnt get it. i took it three times too and even took an after school course. Having a tutor would have helped so much.
SAT and GRE gave me absurd imposter syndrome to be dead fucking honest. My younger sister is flying through pre-med now at the same school I went to and had higher grades than me in both high school and uni - but for whatever reason always bombed standardized tests that I felt I could bullshit a good score in. Of course my family say I don't give myself enough credit and I appreciate that, but nah, my grades don't reflect that scoring difference. Something is off with those tests.
 
Frankly, anywhere that testing or percentages are the means to higher education you're going to get people trying to subvert the system, learn test-taking rather than critical thinking, etc.

It's a fundamentally flawed paradigm that exists because taking a holistic (in the classical sense) approach becomes difficult, time-consuming, and resource-consuming endeavor when you have to not evaluate millions of new students every year nationwide, but millions more as so few people are going to apply to only one place.

To give an idea, when I taught college composition you're entry-level class, either Comp 1 or being bumped to Comp 2 or lowered to a remedial class, was dependent entirely on your application essay. A single data point. How many kids got put in the wrong class because that single sample wasn't entirely representative? How many got bumped up by having someone else write it? How many got bumped up by virtue of being able to take extra time writing compared to having to pump out essay after essay for class?

I routinely had Comp 1 students who did not belong in my class, on either end of the spectrum, and Comp 2 students who clearly got a break.

Because our evaluation methods are awful. But they're the only ones we can reasonably use in the current environment.

I'll expand this out to graduate schools, which routinely only look at transcripts and letters of recommendation, when we really ought to require interviews similar to employment. I came across scores of graduate students straight out of undergrad who had neither the temperament nor maturity to handle grad-level courses, let alone the requirement to teach, TA, or oversee labs. That could have been filtered out so easily by conducting interviews, but few schools have the resources or impetus to do so.

So, instead, we rely on standardized testing and making sure a student has "done a lot", just filling in lines on a CV with bullshit extracurriculars that are afforded to those with the most leisure time or money to be able to pursue them. That's not to denigrate meaningful extracurricular activity, but those rarely speak to a student's true competence or capabilities.
I mean interviews for Grad School should be standard. Most of the time the programs aren't accepting so many applicants that they can't pick a strong subset out to do a skype call with. Professional schools are trickier since they do tend to accept larger classes, but the dirty secret with professional schools is that the GMAT, LSAT and, MCAT (to a lesser extent) actually do a pretty good job predicting success in the program. Wether that translates to success in the workplace is, well, debatable, but it should be predictive. There are a whole host of p. schools though that use the GRE as a proxy because they are too small to develop their own test and that should be a big no-no.
 
Isn't that even less fair though? Like, yes, you get by on your grades. But at the same time, that means that anybody who ever made a mistake, had a bad semester or a year (maybe they were dealing with stress) can't get a Law or Med degree. At least the US system uses more than one metric to measure academic merit, even if it is gameable to some degree. I mean, tbh if you're a complete dunce then no amount of prep course tutoring is gonna raise your score so that you can get into Harvard.

At any rate, a lot of programs are moving away from the GRE for grad school regardless.
It's not quite as simply as that. You get a couple of 'semi-freebie' subjects which contribute minimally to your overall score (if you happen to screw a couple up) and there are measures in place to inflate the scores of rural or underprivileged schools but yes, it's cut-throat and yes, it's rigged in favour of rich schools which can game the system. Realistically, that's the same case everywhere - whether you're talking about the US, UK, Australia, whatever. I guess I just think there's more latitude when you aren't dependent on one day in one room to decide your future.

There's also always the possibility of doing well in another university course and transferring, but obviously that's a long and difficult road.
 
Oct 25, 2017
2,786
Agreed.

I'm a very good test taker, but I know very smart people who aren't. The valedictorian and salutatorian of my high school class both scored in the 1200s on the SATs. I know someone who was in the top 10 of his public high school class who didn't get into his top private high school because he didn't do well enough on the entrance exam. My cousin, who was #3 in her small class of about 30 or so, also didn't do so hot on the SATs.

All of these people went on to grad school and are now very successful in their careers. Actually, all of them are in healthcare in some way.
I was also a really good test-taker. I'm semi-convinced that having annual IOWA tests in grade/middle school was just a lesson in how to fill in bubbles. Got a 29 on the ACT with no prep; retook it for a 31. Took the SATs for shits and giggles - got a 1390, also no prep. Granted, I knew I was set for state school (Kent State University specifically, so I could have my own house).

Did that mean I killed college? Nope, not at first. Was sub-3.0 for my first year and a half (eventually got that to 3.4; then 3.6 in post-undergrad; 4.0 in grad, though!), and I really heated college at first. What actually made me good in college was being in college. I always tell my students that the hardest part is simply acclimating to an environment where you have responsibility - to make your way to class, to manage your time, to pace your assignments and studying, etc. Granted, I didn't party or go out much, but I also skipped classes regularly and stayed home to watch TV or play video games. My post-undergrad is when I really engaged with the environment and started building a CV. My learning curve was long and winding.

By contrast, my younger cousin who is set to be valedictorian or damn close, with tons of extracurriculars and a 35 ACT, has been rejected by Stanford. Granted, he was wait-listed by UM and accepted on early admission to Ohio State. But, and this gets to the cost of high expectations, his mom has him convinced that Ohio State isn't good enough. If she had the power to do what Loughlin did she would in a heartbeat, complaining all the while about all those "undeserving" kids.

Which really gets to the point where we need to reevaluate this idea that there are only 20-30 good schools. You can get a fine education, with connections and internships and extracurriculars and more, nearly anywhere. So fucking what if your kid couldn't get into Yale?

I mean interviews for Grad School should be standard. Most of the time the programs aren't accepting so many applicants that they can't pick a strong subset out to do a skype call with. Professional schools are trickier since they do tend to accept larger classes, but the dirty secret with professional schools is that the GMAT, LSAT and, MCAT (to a lesser extent) actually do a pretty good job predicting success in the program. Wether that translates to success in the workplace is, well, debatable, but it should be predictive. There are a whole host of p. schools though that use the GRE as a proxy because they are too small to develop their own test and that should be a big no-no.
Admittedly, my fields (social sciences and humanities) rely a lot on GREs. I got lucky on those, again I'm a good test-taker, with a 90% verbal and a perfect 6.0 on writing (my fields eschew the math section, which I was 50% on).

What honks me off is that my scores are now over 5-years-old, so any potential doctoral program might want me to retake that.
 
Admittedly, my fields (social sciences and humanities) rely a lot on GREs. I got lucky on those, again I'm a good test-taker, with a 90% verbal and a perfect 6.0 on writing (my fields eschew the math section, which I was 50% on).

What honks me off is that my scores are now over 5-years-old, so any potential doctoral program might want me to retake that.
Not all tests are equal -- generally speaking the more narrowly tailored a test is towards its audience the better it is at actually being predictive. That's why the SAT, ACT, and GRE are the most universally reviled tests. They try to predict outcomes from students studying to be doctors (pre-med) to students who want to be anthropologists. It just doesn't work as well.

At the same time, I'll be honest, the LSAT, GMAT, and MCAT are pretty predictive. Also, almost nobody takes LSAT, MCAT, and/or GMAT without doing extensive preparation beforehand. So, I think those tests are a bit more level.

At any rate, this is kinda getting very OT, so I'll probably limit further responses about this subject in particular, but feel free to PM or start a new topic.