But, all of this was fiction. Here comes the real life example of Adam Wheeler, a 23 year old man who was charged with 20 counts of various charges, including identity fraud and larceny, after he was accused of using fake records and documents to gain admission into Harvard University. Investigators say Wheeler, a senior at Harvard, tricked the school out of $45,000 in financial aid, scholarships and grants.
He became a student in 2007 after he allegedly claimed he had earned a perfect academic record at Phillips Academy in Andover, got a perfect SAT score, and had studied for a year at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He also claimed to have studied at Oxford University for a year, among other things. (No records show any of this.) He also claimed to speak Old Persian and Ancient Armenian.
I admit, I find this situation funnier than I am supposed to, especially once the statement released from Harvard is included: “This defendant’s actions cheated those who competed honestly and fairly for admissions and for the scholarships that this defendant fraudulently obtained.”
In a way, the pressure and hoopla surrounding Ivy League schools in the US created a situation ripe for this kind of con artistry. Wheeler may be a con, but I can’t help but feel he’s doing what many have been doing for years now. Harvard and the other Ivy League schools in the US have never admitted people based squarely on merit, despite their claim.
Harvard also has what is known as legacy recruiting, investigated by 20/20 some years ago. Legacy Recruiting (Affirmative Action for the wealthy)is one admission criteria, alongside merit. Unlike merit, it has nothing to do with grades, but everything to do with who your parents/grandparents were/are, how much money you have and your social and alumni status. Most colleges encourage legacy admissions because it keeps check-writing graduates happy.
According to the Wall Street Journal:
Children of graduates make up 10 to 15 percent of incoming classes at most Ivy League schools, according to the Journal. Harvard accepts 40 percent and Princeton accepts 35 percent of legacies but only 11 percent of all applicants. The University of Pennsylvania rakes 41 percent of legacy applicants yet only 21 percent overall. At Notre Dame, nearly a quarter of students are children of graduates.