If you regularly read the news, you probably know about the college admissions scandal that happened in March 2019. Never mind peeking over your shoulder on a kindergarten test, the admissions scandal takes unethical behavior to a whole new level.
About 50 individuals were charged and found guilty in US federal court for paying bribes to have their children admitted into a few of America’s top universities. At what cost? We are talking hundreds of thousands of dollars. Some parents even paid millions.
Not only did this put parents in an unwelcome spotlight, but it was also unfair to hard-working students counting on their outstanding intellect to win them academic and future job opportunities.
In the aftermath of the scandal, many students voiced concerns about what the scandal means for essay writing services and how or if the scandal will impact essay writing services. These are completely valid questions, especially since essay writing services are a critical learning tool for many students.
Thankfully, the short answer is, no: essay writing services are not and were not involved in the scandal.
Read on to learn exactly what you need to know as a student when it comes to fair academic conduct, avoiding pitfalls, and getting the admissions help you need.
In this post, we will cover:
- Everything you need to know about the college admissions scandal: what happened, who was involved and current status.
- How the scandal impacts standardized tests.
- How the scandal impacts essay writing services.
- What this all this means for you, as a student and a few things too watch out for.
- How to find the right assistance getting into your top-choice university.
What happened during the college admissions scandal?
The admissions scandal came as a shock too many parents, students, and hard-working teachers alike.
Here is a run-down of the unfortunate facts and what happened:
- 50 individuals were charged by the US Attorney in the Massachusetts district. These charges were part of a nation-wide bribery scandal in which parents paid top universities like Yale and Sandford to gain admission for their children.
- Even celebrities were charged including Lori Loughlin of Full House and Felicity Huffman of Desperate Housewives.
- Bribes were paid in exchange for inflated test scores, grades, and sports-based admissions. This included bribes paid for acceptance to a USC crew team and those paid for manipulation of SAT and ACT scores.
- This level of dishonesty was not new. It had been going on for nearly a decade, according to some reports. Bribery payments were even used to conceal previous briberies. The March scandal simply pulled back the curtain.
- Some student identities were faked by third parties who stepped in and took courses and college entrance exams for them, just to gain college acceptance.
- In total, 33 parents were accused of paying over $25 million in bribes.
- The scandal’s nickname is Operation Varsity Blues.
- As it stands, schools and students are not being charged. Only individual coaches and parents have been charged, so far.
- Criminal charges, civil lawsuits, and financial penalties have not yet been made public.
So, how in the world did parents get away with this?
It is hard to believe, but a large percentage the funds parents paid as bribes were disguised as donations to nonprofit foundations. These foundations were run by university associates. This allowed the “donations” to be covered up and distributed to those accepting the bribes. It even allowed parents to claim tax deductions.
But now that the beans are spilled, authorities are likely to crack down on everything from money monitoring to standardized testing.
The main players
Several key players claimed a spotlight in the fiasco. These characters included William Singer, 33 high-profile parents, and a few college coaches. Here’s a little background about these people:
Center Stage: William Singer. Singer is a consultant who served as a university counselor for nearly 30 years. In March 2019, he was found to be a primary instigator behind years of dishonest practices. Singer was accused of fabricating fictitious student biographies and manipulating standardized test scores before finally pleading guilty.
Caught in the act: 33 parents. High profile parents including celebrities and fashion designers were tried for bribery in Boston’s federal court in April 2019, just before the scandal news became viral.
Passively guilty: The coaches. While no teachers have been charged, some university athletic coaches were accused of accepting millions in exchange for admitting students into top level teams. Many of these coaches, including Yale soccer coach Rudolph Meredith, pled guilty to conspiracy and honest services wire fraud.
The institutions. These universities and their athletic programs were involved:
- Georgetown University
- Harvard University
- Northwestern University
- Stanford University
- University of California, Berkeley
- University of California, Los Angeles
- University of San Diego
- University of Southern California
- University of Texas at Austin
- Wake Forest University
- Yale University
A long, complicated fallout
Unfortunately, the broken pieces have yet to be swept up.
Student applications are being more carefully scrutinized. So are ACT and SAT scores. Students whose college applications include false information may be at risk of being punished financially or automatically rejected. The consequences and sentences for those deemed guilty are also not fully determined.
But, rest assured, if your college application contains 100% true information about yourself and your test scores are your honest test scores, you have nothing to worry about!
Even if you received tutoring or essay writing service assistance to help you present a top-notch application that reflects your unique goals and abilities, you are in the clear.
Essay writing services can be a great tool and we will talk more about when and how to use them with academic integrity in the last section.
What This means for students and standardized tests
The SAT and the ACT have been used since the early 1900s as standardized tests qualifying students for higher education. For the most part, policymakers and educators have tested and trusted the SAT’s and ACT’s accuracy. These tests were considered to be almost bulletproof against “cheating.”
This is why the scandal caused many students and parents concern over the future of standardized testing. For instance, if a student does extremely well on a test, does this mean that they will be suspected of having dishonest test scores?
In short, no. Not necessarily.
But what does the scandal mean for students who are already all-star test takers with top IQs?
Here is the deal: The scandal exposed the fact that some students’ test scores were being disproportionately inflated for the sake of college admissions. In many cases, those students’ test scores did not reflect those students’ actual, consistent academic performance throughout high school.
As a result, new crackdowns on the college admissions process and standardized testing are likely to take one of two routes:
- 1. Shift to other models of testing and admissions qualifications, which is likely to take a long time and not happen anytime soon—especially if you are applying to college in the next couple months.
- 2. More carefully examine SAT and ACT scores in comparison to students’ overall academic performance through high school, a much more likely route. Admissions counselors will spot red flags if a student’s high school grades are Cs, Ds, and Fs, but their SAT and ACT scores are soaring.
If you maintained relatively good grades through high school or if you improved your grades over time and your ACT and SAT scores are comparable, you are likely in the clear and have nothing to worry about!
Despite the weight the SAT and ACT tests carry, they are not the only determinants of college admissions.
Thankfully, many other factors influence whether or not a student is accepted into college. These factors vary from university to university. Some of them include:
- GPA. Your grade point average still remains the single most important key to college entrance.
- Motivation, passion and hobbies. Universities are seeking individuals who will be valuable, contributing members to the college community and the workforce after school.
- Writing ability. Yep, believe it or not, writing is still incredibly important. Despite digital communication, spellcheck, and Grammarly, universities still want students with exceptional communication skills. This is one reason essay writing services can be so helpful to students wanting to strengthen their writing skills. This is also why many were left wondering what the scandal means for essay writing services.
How does the college admission scandal impact essay writing services?
The short and simple answer is that the admission scandal does not impact essay writing services.
The scandal involved accusations towards individuals for cheating. This involved manipulating test scores and paying bribes in exchange for admission that was based on those bribes rather than students’ actual academic ability. This was considered academic dishonesty. Writing services, on the other hand, were not involved in the scandal. They play a completely different role in student academic performance.
Most writing services are intended to help students learn and perform better.
Can essay writing services be trusted?
The scandal has caused many students and parents to feel apprehensive about using essay writing services, and understandably so. For instance, many parents and students have questioned if using an essay writing service is considered “cheating.” Could using a writing service negatively impact students’ academic career? Is it considered academic dishonesty and, more importantly, is it punishable?
These are all valid questions which is exactly why we feel it is important to bring clarity to the subject.
Here are the facts and what you, as a student, need to know about essay writing services:
- Essay writing services were not involved in the scandal.
- Writing services are a completely acceptable learning tool to use for academic tutoring, assistance and guidance.
- Essay services are a tool intended to help students improve their own writing abilities.
- Avoiding plagiarism is critical. This is why free writing services are not a good choice. Many free services actually re-use plagiarized content. However, trustworthy top-level writing services such as Ultius will charge competitive rates, offer full-service assistance, and allow students to interact with qualified, professional writers directly.
What exactly are essay writing services used for?
There is a major misconception that writing services just “do the work for students.” But, writing services are actually meant to help students succeed.
Here are some ways essay writing services support student learning:
- Research assistance and organization for students who feel stuck or do not know where to begin.
- Language learning and writing assistance for English as a second language students.
- Providing high-quality examples students can use as a template or guide when writing their own document. Learning takes place in many ways and different students learn well in different ways. Some find visual examples to be more helpful than just reading guidelines. Top writing services like Ultius require that students only use papers provided as samples and cite Ultius when quoting any information from Ultius papers. It is important to use essay writing services with honesty and integrity.
How to find and use trustworthy essay writing services
Here are some best practice tips for how to use essay services in an honest, acceptable way and where to find top quality help when you need it.
- Proofread and edit your work with a professional writer from a top tier essay service.
- Create a road map for your thesis or dissertation with the help of a professional, graduate-level writer. Earning a graduate degree can be a daunting process to many. But, with the right guidance and support, it does not have to feel so overwhelming. Top writing services such as Ultius provide customized tutoring and writing help with all steps of the dissertation process. This includes:
- Organizing a literature review.
- Understanding the methodology.
- Interpreting research findings that may be difficult to understand, especially for novice researchers.
- Order example drafts of assignments, especially when instructions are complex or confusing—or when a citation format is not clear. Seeing a visual example of layout, citation style, and content flow can be incredibly helpful—just like learning to dance is much easier when watching an instructor demonstrate moves first! So long as you use the papers you order as examples and cite sources appropriately, you can rest assured you are using the writing service ethically!
What to watch out for
As in any situation, it is always important to be informed and know what to be on the lookout for, especially when choosing the best essay writing service for you.
Here are some red flags to steer clear of when choosing a writing service:
- Say no to free services. As the saying goes, you get what you pay for. Free services usually lack the resources to properly compensate qualified writers and so you are more likely to be unsatisfied with the product or service you request. Also, many free services actually re-use content, so you may be getting plagiarized content which, of course, is a big no-no!
- Avoid cheap services. Writing services that sell pages for pennies are usually not too far from free services, when it comes to quality. These are also known to re-sell plagiarized content, which is illegal! Definitely not something to be involved with, especially after the March scandal.
- Steer clear of services without an instant chat feature or phone number. If the only way to contact customer services is via old fashioned email, be wary. If you are in a bind for help and need a response quickly, this could cause an unnecessary headache. Go for services like Ultius that offer round-the-clock, instant support.
How to get honest help during the college application process
Clearly, the college application process can be stressful and time-consuming. College application essays are a huge part of what qualifies candidates for acceptance. This is why it is so crucial to submit a top-notch, impeccable admissions essay that stands out from the crowd—a challenging task when competing against thousands of applicants. But the good news is that essay writing services can help with this task in an honest and completely ethical way.
For instance, many students are using essay writing services as a resource for refining their college application essays.
Here is an example of how the process may work:
- 1) Students are paired with a top writer familiar with their university’s focus.
- 2) Students share and brainstorm ideas of what they want to say in their application essay. Some students even submit a rough draft or outline.
- 3) A professional writer will either edit the student’s draft or give suggestions for how the student could organize his or her application essay in a way that sounds compelling.
- 4) A model draft may be provided based on the initial ideas the student shared. That way, students who may be highly qualified and intelligent but lacking in writing skills, are able to revise and edit the essay in their own words. This gives top level students who simply need a little writing assistance the chance to shine.
Choosing a writing service that can help you the right way
Finally, here are some things to be sure and look for when choosing a writing service:
- Choose a services with outstanding reviews. Go for 4 and 5 star reviews. Why not just go for perfect? Picture perfect ratings are a warning of fake reviews, but you can still go for a service with excellent reviews on Google, Facebook, Quora, and Reddit.
- Choose a service that hires top quality writers. Essay writing services like Ultius only hire 6% of writers who apply! When you work with a top service, you are likely to work with world class talent.
- Ask to see samples. Top services will be able to provide examples of the services and essays provided. Take a quick peek on the website or by messaging customer service to see if the service measures up to your standards.
Still curious, or new to writing services?
To learn more about how an essay writing service can help you and how to choose the best one to fit your needs, check out this post on choosing an essay writing service.
The admissions essay is one of the most important aspects of your college application process. Whether you are simply needing a second set of eyes to proofread or need help organizing ideas, top tier essay writing services, such as Ultius, provide high-quality editing, proofreading and assistance drafting admissions essays.