Unacceptable: Privilege, Deceit & the Making of the College Admissions Scandal

Portfolio. Jul. 2020. 304p. ISBN 9780593087725. $28. CRIME
Wall Street Journal reporters Korn and Levitz present a fast-paced account of the massive college admissions scam devised by Rick Singer, a hard-driving admissions counselor who convinced wealthy parents to make large payments to guarantee their children admission to prestigious universities. Numerous arrests in March 2019 revealed the dishonesty of wealthy businessmen and celebrities who wanted to ensure “the best” for their already privileged children, often using “side door” access through low-profile athletic programs. The book focuses on California families and the University of Southern California, but the cheating and hustling extended to other schools and states. The authors followed the trials and plea bargains, searched legal documents, and interviewed the families, their associates, and the network that falsified applications and test scores. This indictment of contemporary American culture offers an in-depth look at the families who were willing to break the law and ignore ethical principles to provide higher education for their children, though the work would have been stronger had it analyzed the causes of this shameful scandal.
VERDICT A well-researched and detailed picture of a crime emerging in an American culture corrupted by wealth and celebrity.
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