College admission coaches, counselors discuss bribery scandal

ByLeslie Brinkley via KGO logo
Wednesday, March 13, 2019
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Our society's focus on "brand name" colleges has contributed to the intense competition for college admission.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Our society's focus on "brand name" colleges has contributed to the intense competition for college admission. Legitimate coaches and counselors work with students to give them a leg up.

Parents are in overdrive to get their kids into certain colleges, but there are fewer college counselors in public high schools to pave the way. So parents who can afford to turn to private college consultants like Michelle Myers to guide their student on everything from what classes to take to writing college essays to what colleges to apply to.

Her take on the scandal?

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"You've always felt like the playing field isn't equal right? Because there's going to be families that can put their student in a fancy private school and also tutors. They get a tutor with every class. They get the fancy test prep people and you're thinking, 'Well, that's really hard to compete against.' But it's there and you know it exists. But now this is a whole other level. This is just buying a spot."

She underscored how unfair it is to students who worked hard to get a high SAT score and take AP classes.

READ: Charging document filed in 'Operation Varsity Blues'

"These students didn't have to perform at all. Their parents just wrote a check," Myers said.

"The more resources that families have, the more they're able to tap into these different networks. And in this case, it's just gone nuts," said Matt Atencio, co-director of Cal State East Bay's Center for Sport and Social Justice. He's researched parents paying for private coaching.

"My days of being a sports coach when I was young, I would get offers of private coaching for 2 year olds in soccer," he said.

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He believes the scandal magnifies the inequalities built into the education system. It's pay to play and where people draw the line.

The experts ABC7 News talked to said we can now expect the NCAA, the College Board and colleges to implement new security measures to confirm the student is the student in order to prevent this kind of fraud.

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