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The other day, the sting operation dubbed Operation Varsity Blues exposed more information on well-heeled and well-known parents who rigged the college-admissions process, to some extent if you are paying proctors and ringers to take or correct tests due to their kids. Not long after news of the scheme broke, critics rushed to point out that celebrity parents like Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman didn’t want to break the law to game the machine.
When it comes to ultra-rich, big contributions may 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.
Into the admissions process, there’s a top premium in the personal statement, a 500-word essay submitted through the typical Application, about some foible or lesson, which aims to give readers a better feeling of the student than, say, a standardized test score. One or more university and advising blog rank the essay one of the “most important” areas of the process; one consultant writing in the latest York Times described it as “the purest part regarding the application.”