Photo Illustration by Sarah Rogers/The Daily Beast/Getty
A week ago, the sting operation dubbed Operation Varsity Blues exposed more information on well-heeled and well-known parents who rigged the college-admissions process, in part by paying proctors and ringers to take or correct tests due to their kids. Not even after news of this scheme broke, critics rushed to point out that celebrity parents like Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman did need to break n’t the law to game the system.
For the ultra-rich, big contributions could easily get their name on a science building and their offspring an area at a top-tier school—an option California Gov. Gavin Newsom recently called “legal bribery.” Even the moderately wealthy can grease the admissions process with extensive SAT tutoring or, more problematically, college application essay editing.
When you look at the admissions process, there’s a top premium in the personal statement, a 500-word essay submitted through the Common Application, about some foible or lesson, which aims to give readers a much better sense of the student than, say, a standardized test score. More than one university and advising blog rank the essay one of the “most important” aspects of the procedure; one consultant writing in the newest York Times described it as “the purest part associated with the application.”
But while test scores are completed because of the student alone—barring bribed proctors, that is—any amount of people can transform an essay before submission, opening it as much as exploitation and less-than-pure tactics as a result of helicopter parents or expensive college-prep counselors who appeal to the 1 percent. Continue reading