Ringleader of college admissions scandal now admits he helped over 750 families sneak their way into college


This I very strongly doubt:

This case involves people forking over fair amounts of money to get into schools with greater prestige(amounts such that the price difference between private and state schools, not that it’s always all that big if you are looking at out-of-state tuition, isn’t an object for them; plus they are mostly trying to cheat into the more expensive ones).

It’s already the case that state schools vary widely in prestige, both between States and within individual states’ systems. How well correlated the prestige differences are with quality differences I don’t know.

If we eliminated the private schools how would that change this dynamic? They’d be trying to cheat into the high prestige state schools rather than high prestige private ones(some may have been already, I didn’t see a full list of target schools and there are some very well respected state schools).

If you want to talk about how underfunding of state schools(and some perverse spending priorities on important things like administration and sportsball arenas) makes it unacceptably difficult to get a decent college degree for less than a small fortune I’m all ears; but claiming that people cheating for prestige can be solved by picking off some of the current high prestige schools for being private is just wrong; especially clearly so when various state schools already have well known and commonly recognized prestige levels attached to them.

Having Mommy and daddy buying mediocre rich kids into UC Berkely vs. Stanford isn’t much of a difference.


Swindler’s List. Saving poor suffering rich people from the common lineups.

Think of it as rich people Affirmative Action. /s


I had not thought that Harvard would be so inexpensive. Competition with the other Ivy Leagues must be tougher than I would have thought.


Of course the GRE is close to useless. I took it over 40 years ago and even then anyone with a modicum of stats/psychometrics could see it could not work with any real usefulness.

BTW, I am not saying that there is anything technically wrong with the test but it’s a bit like having a test designed to screen high school foot ball players and having the players on the top 5 NFL teams take it.


Apparently he’s been running this scam since 2011, so assuming some of these dimwits needed six years to get through university some of them did graduate. Their diplomas (meaning the physical document) need to be pulled and their transcripts need to reflect that they were admitted under fraudulent circumstances. Otherwise they can say they graduated.


According to the list in the indictment, at least one kid used this service to get into UCLA – a “public Ivy” like Cal. In that case it looks like the soccer coach was bribed to be the “side door”.

So if there were only public schools, this slimy service would still have found a way. Now if sports recruiting programmes (not just football and basketball) were more carefully scrutinised, this crook would have had a more difficult time.


If they got in unfairly, but fulfilled all the requirements for graduating with a degree, I can’t see how they could be ethically stripped of the degrees.

Now, for those who are still at the university, I would support getting kicked out and having to reapply. However, even then, they should keep all the course credits they’ve fulfilled, and those should transfer to other universities if they can’t or won’t get into their current one again.


The Ivy League scam goes beyond just corruption in admissions.

They’re networking/party schools for the inbred elite.


“It reported that New Jersey real estate developer Charles Kushner had pledged $2.5 million to Harvard University not long before his son Jared was admitted to the prestigious Ivy League school, which at the time accepted about one of every nine applicants. (Nowadays, it only takes one out of 20).”

A former official at the Frisch School in Paramus, N.J., where Kushner attended, told Golden that there was no way that Kushner was going to Harvard on merits alone.

“His GPA [grade point average] did not warrant it, his SAT scores did not warrant it. We thought, for sure, there was no way this was going to happen. Then, lo and behold, Jared was accepted. It was a little bit disappointing because there were at the time other kids we thought should really get in on the merits, and they did not.’’


Some personal experience: I did my postdoc at one of the Ivys and had a teaching load of something like 2/1. Around the first semester, I got a document which told me the grade distributions for various classes assigned by one of the senior faculty. (This was a good thing: it didn’t proscribe anything and calibrated my expectations.) The distributions were roughly half A’s, a third B’s, a little less than a sixth C’s and a light dusting of D’s and F’s.

It wasn’t totally unfair; for example, no one ever pressured me over grades. (Well, pre-med students argued every single point but that seems to be the nature of pre-med students everywhere.) Plus, I really do feel like the A students knew the material at an A level. C students were the usual “you don’t have to take this again but don’t take the next class in the sequence” kind of kids.


For contrast:

Australia grades on a High Distinction / Distinction / Credit / Pass / Fail system [1].

I’d normally teach about 60-90 students per subject per semester. Out of those, there would be maybe three or four High Distinctions, a dozen Distinctions, a few Fails and the rest spread between Pass and Credit.

You need roughly a Distinction average to be invited to do an Honours year, and about the top 1/3 of Honours students make it to grad school.


[1] Fail = didn’t make a serious attempt. Pass = this is shit, but at least they tried. Credit = has at least one good thing, but some mistakes. Distinction = no major mistakes and some good stuff. High Distinction = holy shit, this one is actually good!


Well, each of those grades also came in +/- versions. I gave very few A+'s, comparable to what you gave for High Distinction.

With that in mind, we may be overstating the difference here: I just calculated the information content of each. Stripped of the +/- labels there are about 1.1 bits of information in the Ivy grades. (Adding in the +/- will increase it somewhat.) Australia’s grading scale, approximating your numbers, has about 1.3 bits of information in the grade.

That interpretation is on my mind as there was one of the Futility Closet’s Patreon posts which claimed about 1.1 bits of information in a whole Oxford degree.

I’d say that the correspondence is that your Fail is the same as mine, pass is a C, Credit is a B, Distinction is an A, and High Distinction is an A+.

Annoyingly, my current institution doesn’t have an A+ so I’m without a way of signalling “They know their shit, and I fucking mean it”.


This one might be more fitting:


I don’t think he was there with them (or it doesn’t say). It sounds like she was friends with the guy’s daughter, so it’s not nearly as creepy as it sounds. Still illustrates the problem of this sort of elitist network, though.


I wish I’d known about this scam when I was applying to different colleges. I’d have signed up with the scammers in a heartbeat. Not because I would have cared about getting a better school - because going to a school where you can make the right friends makes all the difference in the world. You think the gits who go to Harvard or Yale are actually somehow better educated? Road apples. They join the right fraternity, they make the right contacts, they become members of the Old Boys’ Mutual Protection Association, and after that they have it made. They have people who will grease the skids for them from then on. That’s the only reason why that incompetent idiot Trump didn’t have to move into a new home under a railroad bridge decades ago.





“Stolen from a more deserving applicant.”


“Trust Fund World Problems”