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College bribery scandal insult to counselors

Felicity Huffman and Mossimo Giannulli dodge the media outside a courthouse in Los Angeles after she is charged in a massive bust involving bribes and several colleges around the country.

Baltimore may have many problems, but college admission insanity is not one of them (“Shocked by the college admissions scandal? Here's how to stop it,” Mar. 13).

Having been a college counselor for decades, I am proud to report that I never witnessed the type of corruption evinced by the recent college admission scandal. Yes, I recall hearing of a proctoring irregularity in another state a while back and confess to being surprised by the unexpected good fortune of a local student.

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As counselors we all knew that colleges had definite admission preferences, but they were rarely out of line with academic and or extracurricular profiles. Quantifiable and verifiable performance was and still is at the heart of admissions. Side door admissions? Bribed coaches? That was unheard of. Naïve though we may be, I am grateful that Baltimoreans kept college admissions in perspective.

What an insult this scandal is to all the nation’s high school counselors who work tirelessly to help families navigate what at times is a daunting and confusing process. I know first hand how much thought and care my colleagues pour into every candidate’s supporting documents. What does this also do to disparage the work of the college admissions officers we work with over the years? They read candidate files carefully, they knew our schools and they know if a student is a good match. I despair that these professionals are in any way linked with the likes of William Singer.

College counselors often work with ambitious and competitive parents, but thankfully Baltimore parents' ethical core seems to be intact. I had the pleasure of working with families from a broad range of backgrounds. The vast majority knew the capabilities of their children, understood the complexities of the process, and were grateful for the choices their children had. I may also add that not all privileged and powerful parents received the news they wanted. Their child did not always get admitted to the elite school they desired despite the resources they could bring to the process. Bribery and fraud so that their child would be admitted to a particular college? It was unthinkable. Instead there was understanding, acceptance, and support.

So thank you Baltimore parents and students for applying yourself to your studies, making contributions to your community, following the rules and making good college choices. As for those young people admitted to schools through fraudulent means, I hope that they prove worthy of the precious seat they possess.

Iva Turner

The writer is former director of college counseling at Gilman School and The Bryn Mawr School.

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