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'The most extreme example': Former college admissions officer breaks down bribery scandal

Alyssa Pry
Personal Finance Reporter

The largest college admissions scandal in history has exposed the dark side of college admissions: dozens of parents were charged with mail fraud for trying to cheat and bribe their children into prominent academic institutions including Yale, Georgetown, and Stanford, among others.

According to Ed Boland, a former Yale University admissions officer and author of the New York Times bestseller, “The Battle for Room 314,” the admissions process has never been fair, but this scandal takes it to a new level.

"The playing field has never been level, but this is the most extreme example of the lengths people are willing to go,” Boland tells Yahoo Finance. "There will always be bad apples in this process; there will always be people willing to lie, cheat and steal in the process, because the stakes are high.”

William “Rick” Singer was the mastermind behind the scheme, and parents paid between $15,000 and $75,000 to inflate or fake SAT scores. Singer also collected $25 million from 2011 to February 2019 to bribe coaches and administrators at colleges to secure spots on athletic teams in order to guarantee admission, according to the indictment.

Boland says college athletics have become too controlling of the admissions process and take opportunities away from scholars to make way for talented athletes instead.

“So many people get absolutely furious about affirmative action against racial minorities, but there are more students who benefit from being children of alumni or student athletes than there are benefiting from affirmative action," he says.

Boland says he was never bribed or heard of this happening in his time as an admissions officer. But the admissions process has always been fraught, he says.

"I've been working in the college admissions business for the last 20-plus years, and one thing that I've learned is that the system isn't fair and never will be fair.”


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