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How has the Varsity Blues admissions scandal affected your approach to the application process?

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Replies to: How has the Varsity Blues admissions scandal affected your approach to the application process?

  • Sapphire GSapphire G 29 replies0 threads Junior Member
    I was surprised that anyone would go through that to go to USC. The kids involved were already privileged and were going to lead a privileged life after college regardless of school. Smartly targeted donations are one thing if you have the money but this was stupid.
    I know colleges prefer full pay students and why not?
    None of the above applies to our family so it had no influence on applications this year.
    My child saw SAT accommodations given to students who did not need it except to perform better on the SAT using the real advantage of extra time. It's a timed test and extra time helps immensely. It's infuriating and unfair but that's life sometimes. Educated parents have no trouble getting their children accomodations. This is not speculation since the students receiving the extra time spoke openly about it.
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  • hebegebehebegebe 2840 replies39 threads Senior Member
    gwnorth wrote: »
    It made me glad that as our kids attend school in Canada they don't have to undergo the onerous process that is admissions to top schools in the U.S.

    That option is also available for US residents. Anyone targeting a top 40 school in the USA but worried about the vagaries of "holistic admissions" should apply to "merit only" schools like McGill and U. of Toronto.
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  • 4gsmom4gsmom 868 replies29 threads Member
    It changed ours a little - we had a few "connections" at her school of choice and we opted to not have them write letters for fear it would backfire. We didn't want to put admissions in the position of having to defend her acceptance should they receive the letters. Or reject her outright, to make a point that they won't be swayed by the influence of others.
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  • MistySteel27MistySteel27 88 replies0 threads Junior Member
    I’m not at the point of college search yet because my child is in jr high. What my thoughts are for our future search are that most students who cheated their way in have graduated from these “prestigious” schools or at least weren’t failing out. It’s really reinforced my opinion about the value of name brand is unimportant especially if my child isn’t looking for a super prestigious career where the masses want to know where she received her undergrad degree. Aside from elected office or Supreme Court judges I can’t think of any. Then again I don’t have 500k to bribe my kids way in and then pay another 400k for tuition/expenses.
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  • MusakParentMusakParent 1061 replies9 threads Senior Member
    edited February 24
    Honestly, I think that scandal is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to privilege tipping the scales at many of these schools. You only need look at the NYT data on income levels of families for most of these schools to see where admission priorities lie. 14% of students at USC have families of origin earning in the top 1% and USC isn't as bad as some.

    My kid graduated last year and we had the opportunity to pick a top 15 public for about 1/3 of the price of these high end privates the kid certainly had the stats and resume for and had a number of acceptances as well. Very happy with that choice both academically and financially.
    edited February 24
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  • mammabear999mammabear999 6 replies0 threads New Member
    My child is a high school senior, applying to some of the same universities where students and parents were involved in the Varsity Blues scandal. So it did have an impact on our process. It was discussed on some of the college tours we did last summer as an example.
    I was already aware of inequality that is present in the college admission process but the scandal was more disturbing because it was so blatantly criminal and systemic--(many parents- not just celebrities, multiple universities, and multiple ways of creating behind the scenes paths to admissions in highly selective schools).
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  • chb088chb088 1090 replies32 threads Senior Member
    edited February 24
    @MusakParent good to hear. My kid is a senior and likely picking a Top 5 Public and I'll be very happy to pay less in tuition for her to receive a top education.
    edited February 24
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  • StPaulDadStPaulDad 577 replies4 threads Member
    edited February 24
    After the past half decade I'm far more cynical than I used to be. This story was just one more brick in the System Is Corrupt wall that lies between most of us and most of them. I get that higher ed is expensive and could not survive as a pure meritocracy, but there are development offices dedicated to buying your way in so I was kind of expecting these things to over happen there.

    Also, in my experience sports is usually about results, where coaches typically don't choose to weaken their programs and the players know who is and isn't going to contribute to success. It's kind of shocking that the rest of the team on all these rosters didn't get any inkling of this, as they'd probably be a little pissed that their resources were being sold off to some rich kid influencer. Later in the semester no one ever pointed out that 5'6" crew recruit? People in Admissions know who is on what list, but none of them ever talk to coaches? This is weird.
    edited February 24
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  • TS0104TS0104 1362 replies31 threads Senior Member
    For us it was confirmation of the level of crazy that is happening with college selection/admissions, with parents and/or high school students placing a disproportionate, unhelpful importance on rank and stature of school instead of finding the school where the student will fit and thrive.
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  • HigherEd456HigherEd456 4 replies2 threads New Member
    @mammabear999 thank you for sharing this! I'd love to talk to you more about it. Could you email me? [email protected]
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  • simba9simba9 3359 replies20 threads Senior Member
    edited February 25
    I agree with Maya54–I was shocked half a million wasn’t enough to just buy your way into USC
    I'm a USC alum. I'm serious when I say a $500K donation directly to the school would have gotten an otherwise unqualified student in, plus the parents would have been publicly honored by the school for their donation.
    edited February 25
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  • CorralenoCorraleno 176 replies1 threads Junior Member
    StPaulDad wrote: »
    Also, in my experience sports is usually about results, where coaches typically don't choose to weaken their programs and the players know who is and isn't going to contribute to success. It's kind of shocking that the rest of the team on all these rosters didn't get any inkling of this, as they'd probably be a little pissed that their resources were being sold off to some rich kid influencer. Later in the semester no one ever pointed out that 5'6" crew recruit? People in Admissions know who is on what list, but none of them ever talk to coaches? This is weird.

    At USC, the director of athletic admissions was actually the one running the scam, so there was very little oversight. On the rare occasion that anyone questioned an application from one of her fake recruits, she quickly produced additional (equally fake) documentation. Some coaches were in on it and some weren't — sometimes she would claim that a kid was being recruited for a particular sport and the coach for that sport had no idea. She would do things like forge a letter from the lacrosse coach on USC letterhead praising a kid as one of the top players, when the kid didn't even play the sport. And then when the fake athlete enrolled in the fall, she would add a note to the file that the kid had been injured over the summer and would be unable to join the team. So it wasn't like there were kids showing up for team practices each fall who had never played the sport.

    USC was the only school that involved more than one coach, and at the other schools the coaches were generally more careful about not taking too many at once. And many teams include walk-ons as well as recruits, so team members wouldn't necessarily be suspicious of a less-than-stellar teammate.
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  • BenniesMom1BenniesMom1 243 replies3 threads Junior Member
    edited February 25
    Not sure if the scandal had anything to do with it, but it seems like "Holistic Review" for the admissions process were two words spouted a LOT during the process. I always wondered whether it was due to the scandal that it WAS being used that much. Whatever it was, my kid and I, were determined to put that Holistic Review process to the test. In that regard, I guess you could say that the scandal DID in fact have an impact on the way he (and his Momager - new word I learned tonight.. HA) approached the process. His GC discouraged him from applying to the schools which he DID apply to - none of them being true safeties. He's ranked close to the bottom of his class of 127, she said, so his choices are limited. SMH I had to snap him out of the "I'll never get into college funk" that the GC had put him in and told him, IF Holistic Reviews really ARE a "thing", you SHOULD get in YOUR choice schools with your talent, corresponding ECs, essays etc. So, essentially, we were trying to prove that Holistic Reviews really ARE a thing and approached the whole application process with that in mind. He's an instrumental major who was trying to get into a Music School within a University setting, and my son believes that Musicians should be recruited from performing arts schools like athletes are recruited, but that's a whole n'other story and article. He is 7/7 acceptances into Music Schools he's auditioned for, 4 of them already with full acceptance to the Universities (read: he's academically admissible) and we wait for the other three. And yes... at a couple of the schools we visited and he applied to, the Varsity Blues scandal was mentioned.
    edited February 25
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  • StPaulDadStPaulDad 577 replies4 threads Member
    @Corraleno I'm still not buying it. In most sports the kids know the other D1-level prospects in their area at least by name but often also by sight. You may only see football opponents once a year, but in most other sports you cross paths frequently at games, tournaments and combines. And if a player didn't have the interest there are plenty of over-involved parents with too much time on their hands watching college recruiting closely in their sport. For example right now I could go to several places on the internet and in short order find someone with the exact list of VB recruits, red shirts and scholarship status for the whole roster for the next four years for many teams. That's a headcount sport, but people still know who is coming and going for most sports, which makes it hard to imagine getting away with this in anything other than large squad Olympic events like sailing.

    And with the amount of coverage of prep and club teams, with the greedy followup by the clubs to publicize the success of their alums, it's strange that no one spotted the fake resumes of these folks. ("Hey, that guy wasn't at my tournament", or worse yet, "Hey, that's not a real tournament.") There are plenty of places to discuss this and it's really weird that it never appeared. For example over in the Athletic Recruiting section of this site, College Confidential, they're hosting all the NCAA recruiting info on fencing going back years. Someone should have noticed this.
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  • HigherEd456HigherEd456 4 replies2 threads New Member
    @Techno13 thank you for sharing this! I'd love to talk to you more about your thoughts on standardized testing as part of this process. Could you email me? [email protected]
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  • HigherEd456HigherEd456 4 replies2 threads New Member
    @BenniesMom1 thank you for sharing this! I'd love to talk to you more about your experience. Could you email me? [email protected]
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  • CorralenoCorraleno 176 replies1 threads Junior Member
    StPaulDad wrote: »
    @Corraleno I'm still not buying it. In most sports the kids know the other D1-level prospects in their area at least by name but often also by sight. You may only see football opponents once a year, but in most other sports you cross paths frequently at games, tournaments and combines. And if a player didn't have the interest there are plenty of over-involved parents with too much time on their hands watching college recruiting closely in their sport. For example right now I could go to several places on the internet and in short order find someone with the exact list of VB recruits, red shirts and scholarship status for the whole roster for the next four years for many teams. That's a headcount sport, but people still know who is coming and going for most sports, which makes it hard to imagine getting away with this in anything other than large squad Olympic events like sailing.

    And with the amount of coverage of prep and club teams, with the greedy followup by the clubs to publicize the success of their alums, it's strange that no one spotted the fake resumes of these folks. ("Hey, that guy wasn't at my tournament", or worse yet, "Hey, that's not a real tournament.") There are plenty of places to discuss this and it's really weird that it never appeared. For example over in the Athletic Recruiting section of this site, College Confidential, they're hosting all the NCAA recruiting info on fencing going back years. Someone should have noticed this.

    But the only people who ever saw the fake resumes at USC were the person running the scam (Donna Heinel, director of athletic admissions) and a couple of people from the admissions department who met with her every couple of weeks to rubber-stamp the applications she presented them with. The people in the regular admissions department have no idea who the top athletes are in 25 different sports, they assume it's the coaches' job to find and recruit the best kids, and then the director of athletic admissions is supposed to verify those applications for compliance and accuracy. And apparently Heinel had built a reputation for being really tough and a stickler for rules when dealing with coaches who were not part of her scheme, so no one suspected she would be putting through fake athletes when she was rejecting genuine athletes that coaches really wanted to recruit.

    Also, in many cases the kids who were admitted with fake resumes didn't even know their parents were doing it — some of the parents were very concerned that their kids never find out they got in as fake recruits, and Singer assured them that the kids would never appear on a team roster or anything. And generally the students who were in on the scam were smart enough to keep quiet about it, not brag to their friends that they were being recruiting in a sport they'd never played. Heinel basically snuck them in the athletic side door, and then they were listed as injured and unable to compete before team practices ever started, so there were no totally inexperienced and unknown kids showing up for practice on USC teams.

    In other cases, like Georgetown or Harvard, the kids who got in as recruits actually did play their sport, they just weren't at the level that a coach would normally recruit. But those teams also have walk-ons, and there would be no way for teammates to know who was a recruit and who was a walk-on. My son was heavily recruited and currently competes for a top D1 team, and although of course we knew who all the top athletes were in his sport and where they were going, there are also a LOT of much lower ranked athletes who ended up on top teams as walk-ons. There are kids on my son's team he had never heard of, who have never competed at his level, and I think that's true of most teams, especially in the smaller niche sports where coaches may not get a lot of recruiting slots. Coaches generally welcome walk-ons with high GPAs, to bring the team GPA up, even if they aren't very good and would never make the travel team, so it would not raise any suspicions among teammates to have a few mediocre players on the team, they would just assume they were walk-ons.
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  • theloniusmonktheloniusmonk 2868 replies5 threads Senior Member
    "He is 7/7 acceptances into Music Schools he's auditioned for, 4 of them already with full acceptance to the Universities (read: he's academically admissible)"

    Right but there's a big difference between getting into a place like Juliard which is solely based on performance (their website says only a hs diploma is needed) and say Vanderbilt's music program, which is performance and requires you to fill the common app, meaning essay, grades, scores, recommendations. If Vanderbilt accepted someone at the bottom of the class then for sure they practice holistic admissions.
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  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone 24507 replies19 threads Senior Member
    Oh, I don't think kids know the other athletes in their sports, especially at a school like USC. My daughter knew one other freshman on her team (they played on the same club team) but didn't know another who had played for another high school team in the same county, and it wasn't a particularly big county (6 public high schools with I think 5 lacrosse teams). She certainly didn't know the kids from NJ or Maine or even the kids who weren't very good but still got to play on the team, even if she'd played in one showcase with them over the years. There are thousands of kids at those showcases.

    USC athletes come from all over the country. No way parents know the average kids playing on a team from Maryland or NY or Florida, and those average kids can be recruited athletes. Even superstars might not be well known nationwide.
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