Estrela Consulting Blog

The Varsity Blues Scandal: Thoughts from Our Founder

Kristina Dooley March 14, 2019

Kristina Dooley - Web Bio PicDear Estrela Families and Friends,

This week, the world of college admission took a hard blow with the news that a significant cheating scandal had taken place involving many wealthy families, college coaches, and celebrities. Our team at Estrela, while disgusted by the unethical actions of those named in the current lawsuit, is holding its head high today. While some may be questioning the work of college consultants, I write to share with you the reasons why we remain proud of the support we have provided families from around the world for more than a decade.

Our Mission
At Estrela, we work with families from many different ethnic, religious, and socioeconomic backgrounds, with varying levels of academic and athletic ability. How we support our students is focused not on any one of these factors, but rather on helping students find their place at the right-fit institution. We often boast about our list of outcomes, not because of the number of elite institutions it includes, but exactly the opposite. Sure, we have students admitted to the Ivies and schools like MIT, but we also have students who are admitted to regional institutions and community colleges that are the best academic, social or financial fit for them. In fact, this list of which we are so proud includes more than 300 colleges in 37 states and 8 countries. How's that for finding fit?

Our Ethical Standards
Each member of our Estrela team abides by the IECA Principles of Good Practice. We set both ourselves, and our client families, to a high ethical standard. We respect the decision making process of our peers on the admission side, and work with our students to ensure they are providing a complete - and fully accurate - representation of themselves and their achievements in their applications.

Our Profession
Prior to Tuesday’s explosion of news about the “Varsity Blues” scandal (aka: #AdmissionsGate), we had never heard the name William (Rick) Singer. The reason why? He has no professional credentials to speak of, or affiliations with any of the membership organizations that are a must for independent educational consultants. Our Estrela team members can be found in the directories for NACAC, IECA, HECA, AICEP, OACAC, NEACAC, OSCA, ASCA and AACRAO...just to name a few. Just as with any industry, we believe that it is important to fully vet any professional whose services you’re considering engaging. However, in this particular case, it’s clear the defendants were not in the market for the most ethical consultant. Their actions have proven they were seeking just the opposite.

The Bigger Issue
Aside from viewing the allegations that have been brought against all of those involved in this scandal as deplorable and an example of privilege, there is an even bigger issue at hand with this story. The why. Each of these high-powered parents sought out shameless “solutions” to a problem that they believed existed. That problem? That their children were not “good enough” to be admitted to an institution based on their merits alone. That their children would not be successful without a certain institution’s name on their diploma. That, without these side door opportunities, their child might experience failure and disappointment...perhaps for the first time in their life.

This is the problem.

While driving my children home on Tuesday I listened intently to a radio news broadcast telling of this story as it was unfolding. At the end of the piece my 8-year-old daughter, who had apparently followed along as the players were unveiled in this special report, said something that proves to me that kids are so much wiser than adults:

“Why wouldn’t those parents just let their kids go to the schools where someone would teach them that stuff they didn’t know...instead of pretending they already knew it? Now they’ll never have a chance to learn.”

That’s right. Sometimes people will never learn.

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Tagged: college admission, college decision, Varsity Blues, ethics

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