Clear Expectations Can Prevent College Admission Issues

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BOSTON, MASS. – This past March, a scandal broke out amongst some of America’s largest colleges and universities around admission practices.  William Singer, the founder of Key Enterprises, a nonprofit that mostly served as a front for the scheme, has been listed as a cooperating witness with the FBI and has self-identified as the ringleader of the scheme that bent and broke college admissions protocol and many laws to get students into prestigious universities. 

Singer’s scheme involved everything from bribing College Board officials, to falsifying test scores and even faking disabilities so that students would be more likely to get into certain colleges.  Nearly 50 people had been named in the scandal according to a March 12, 2019, “New York Times” article.

The Beacon contacted Bethel’s Vice President for Enrollment Management, Terry Elam, Ph.D., to get his take on the situation. 

“Honestly I’m not surprised.  This sort of a thing has been happening for as long as higher education has existed in the United States,” Elam said.

Elam described some of the history of higher education. Originally intended for wealthier patrons, university professors were highly revered for their knowledge and status. Elam likened this prestige to the driving force behind why so many people got involved in this scheme.

“People were probably scared that their kids wouldn’t receive the kind of recognition and advantages that a degree from a prestigious university would offer,” he said.

Elam explained how Bethel prevents these fraudulent admissions practices.   

“Well, one of the ways that we prevent misunderstandings is by training the athletic coaches what to look for, academically, in a student. They can be great athletes, but they still have to go through the regular admissions process,” he said. “Another thing is through making sure that students and parents understand what to expect when their student goes to school here.  Typically, if we can get on the same page about our expectations, we don’t have an issue with any kind of admissions fraud.”

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