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US Admissions bribery scandal: My note to Parents & Students this morning

Dear Parents and Students,

It's been an interesting morning that I hadn't expected but as I process and read am feeling positive. If you have not read yet, the US Department of Justice has indicted parents, counselors, and coaches in a massive scandal for buying their way into selective institutions in the US. Read the DOJ report from Massachusetts here.

I'd like you to read about this case--even if you're not planning to apply to the US--as it's important and compelling to understand what is going on in university admissions (high stakes, panic, fear, ...) and how justice can eventually be served. Honestly, this is why I am pleased: we can always find rot, unfairness, unethical behaviour. Always. It is, thanks to the human being generally being good, usually the rotten "few", not the masses. So, I am feeling positive to see this come to light, to see that those who try to game a system and process that is by no means "fair" or objective (part of the reason why I favor holistic admissions, as you know, because it does focus on the human being and her uniqueness...whether "they" like and want that human being is out of your control but this is how life works) and try to make it black and white--ie: "I'll pay you for the ticket"--don't win; and not only do they not win, they fail.

I feel for their kids and what they've taught them and are teaching them. But, now it seems, the lesson is changing, quickly and drastically.

I'm sharing a few articles from responsible journalism regarding the case. I recommend you read from reliable sources such as NYT or WaPo (The Washington Post). Here they are:

My own opinion is this: we will always have people in life trying to game a system, in particular one that is as grey as this. I believe in justice being served and hope that lessons to society come from it. I quite agree with Bruni but disagree with some parts of his opinion: it's always going to be an uneven playing field. That's life. He talks about fundraising and donations. As the former Director of International Advancement (that's alumni relations plus development, or fundraising) for a university in the US, I know how fundraising works. It doesn't work with a simple check being written and I think it's dangerous to spread this myth. I was not working for a university with a massive endowment and nor was it highly selective but the idea of accepting a quick cheque from my prospects was anathema and never happened. Development is something that exists in American society--fundraising--and always has but it works through years and years of prospect cultivation, strategy and complicated layers. I share this with you because it is, as are most things, more complex than most people write about. (Again, another reason why I think this day and age it's important to know your source--are they experts and do they know about what they are writing?)

I will continue to share with you so you can develop your own opinions.

Warmest wishes,


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