A History of College Admissions Schemes, From Encoded Pencils to Paid Stand-Ins
Fifty people were charged this week with taking part in a nationwide scheme to game the process of admission to highly competitive schools. While federal authorities say that this is the largest prosecution of its kind in history, it is far from the first.
Here’s a look back at five other times manipulation of the admissions process caused a scandal:
The Time-Zone Quirk
It was an ingenious and audacious idea: pay expert test takers to memorize answers in New York and then phone them to Los Angeles and Chicago, where the tests had not been taken yet. The answers were then carved in code on the sides of pencils being used to take the same tests, the Graduate Management Admission Test, the Graduate Record Exam, and the Test of English as a Foreign Language.
Between 1992 and 1996, several hundred people took advantage of the time differences, paying between $2,000 and $9,000, depending on how high the desired score was. The students were flown or driven to test centers, where they were given pencils with the coded answers. Hundreds of students received high scores and were admitted to graduate schools around the country, prosecutors said.
The mastermind of the scheme, Po Chieng Ma, was sentenced in 1998 to four years in prison.
这起舞弊案的主谋马白景（Po Chieng Ma，音）于1998年被判四年监禁。
Columbia University, New York University, Fordham University and Hunter College, all in New York, were among the schools receiving fraudulent scores, the indictment said.
起诉书称，哥伦比亚大学(Columbia University)、纽约大学(New York University)、福坦莫大学(Fordham University)、亨特学院(Hunter College)均收到过不真实的成绩（这些学校都位于纽约）。
“This obsession with test scores, as indicated by this case, underscores the importance of getting a fuller picture of candidates than can be gleaned from just looking at standardized tests,” said George E. Rupp, the president of Columbia at the time.
“对考试分数的倚重，正如在该案所表明的，突显了全面考察申请人的重要性，而不能仅仅凭标准化考试成绩招生，”时任哥伦比亚大学校长的乔治·E·鲁普(George E. Rupp)说。
Paying Someone Else to Take the Test
Twenty students were arrested on Long Island in 2011 for accepting payment or paying others to take the SAT and ACT between 2008-11.
Administrators at Great Neck North High School began an inquiry after a student confided to a college counselor that someone was accepting money to take the SAT for other students. They decided to focus on students who had registered to take the tests outside the district and also compared SAT scores with student grade-point averages.
在一名学生向升学顾问透露有人在收钱代考SAT后，长岛大颈北高中(Great Neck North High School)展开了一项调查。校方决定把重点放在报名在区外参加考试的考生，并将SAT分数与学生的平均绩点进行了比对。
Some of the widest discrepancies were with students who chose to take the test off-site, where they would not be recognized. The test takers used fake identification cards.
The group of 20 were from five schools: Five of them were suspected of taking tests for others and the other 15 were accused of paying them $500 to $3,600 to take the tests. Students who signed up could pay in installments. One of the test takers was Samuel Eshaghoff, a graduate of Great Neck North, who even took tests for girls.
“I thought that there was an easy way to make money,” he said later on “60 Minutes.” “And just like any other easy way to make money, it’s always too good to be true.”
The scheme prompted a requirement that students provide a photograph when they sign up for college entrance exams, and that officials check those images against the test takers’ ID.
T.M. Landry, a small school in small-town Louisiana, had gained national attention for sending its underprivileged black students to elite colleges, including Yale, Brown, Princeton, Stanford, Columbia, Dartmouth, Cornell and Wesleyan. It produced its first graduating class in 2013.
But The New York Times reported last year that the school falsified transcripts, made up student accomplishments and trafficked in the worst stereotypes of black America to manufacture Cinderella stories.
The Landrys, the husband-and-wife team that led the school, were also accused of physical and emotional abuse by students and teachers. One student interviewed said that he did not know that the school had lied on his behalf, while others were told to lie on their applications.
While some Landry graduates were successful, others had to withdraw from college, or transfer to less rigorous programs because of a lack of preparation.
The Landrys denied fabricating student stories, and the school is still operating.
Special Consideration for the Politically Connected
While it is no surprise that admissions offices have ways for top administrators and prominent alumni to signal their interest in applicants, a Chicago Tribune investigation in 2009 revealed a “clout list” of those who got special consideration because of political connections.
The scheme was known internally as Category I, and The Tribune said that 800 applicants won spots at the flagship Urbana-Champaign campus after intervention from state lawmakers and university trustees. The newspaper said the students were admitted even though some did not meet the university’s admission standards.
A state commission’s inquiry concluded that Category I was a sophisticated shadow admissions process for applicants who were supported by politicians, donors and other prominent sponsors.
According to internal documents and email messages released to the panel, university officials fretted about the university’s decline in national rankings as a result of admitting unqualified students, even as they encouraged the special treatment.
The university’s president and the chancellor of the flagship campus, as well as a majority of the members of the university’s board, resigned after the commission’s report.
A Front-Page Answer Key
On the day in 1989 that 80,000 high school students in New York were to take a state-administered chemistry exam, The New York Post published the answers to the stolen test on its front page.
1989年，纽约州有8万名高中生要参加一场全州化学考试。当天，《纽约邮报》(New York Post)在头版刊登了失窃的试题答案。
The Post said that it published the answer key to the multiple-choice test after learning that thousands of photocopies of the answers had been illegally sold to students in New York City.
The test is one of the many state-sponsored Regents examinations, whose results are a factor in course grades and college admissions.
State education officials said that the answer sheet on the front page appeared to have been sent by fax in the morning to students in upstate New York.
In addition to chemistry, other stolen tests included those for United States history, global studies and 10th-grade mathematics. It was only the second time in the 111-year history of the Regents that an exam had been canceled, The Times reported.
The Post’s editor at the time, Jerry Nachman, said that the front page showed the pervasive corruption surrounding the test. “These weren’t the Pentagon papers,” he said of the 56-question answer key. “What made the story was not the uniqueness of the documents, but their omnipresence.”