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In wake of transcript fraud scandal, universities silent on admissions processes

Elite schools were apparently duped by false transcript scams

A private school has been accused of numerous unethical practices to help its minority students gain acceptance to prestigious universities including Harvard, Stanford, Princeton, and Yale, and these universities are refusing to clarify how they were fooled by the fraudulent records or how they plan to improve their admissions process to prevent it in the future.

T.M. Landry College Prep, a school in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, has in recent years drawn the attention of several major programs including the “Today” show, “Ellen,” and “CBS This Morning” due to many of its students’ having been accepted at many of America’s most prestigious universities. Numerous students were presented as having surmounted difficulties at home to achieve outstanding grades in challenging courses and earn impressive honors in extracurricular activities.

A recent bombshell report in The New York Times revealed that much of these accomplishments were false. “In reality, the school falsified transcripts, made up student accomplishments and mined the worst stereotypes of black America to manufacture up-from-hardship tales that it sold to Ivy League schools hungry for diversity,” the paper reported.

Those schools, however, are refusing to comment on their application processes, declining to say if and how they will improve their administrative procedures in order to safeguard against future fraud.

The College Fix reached out to eight prestigious universities that have accepted Landry graduates to ask about their application vetting processes. None were willing to comment. At Yale, an individual named Isaac responded to The Fix’s query to the admissions office and said: “Unfortunately, I’m not able to speak on behalf of the admissions office for your publication.” It is unclear what role this individual plays in Yale’s admissions. Further queries were not returned.

Princeton University declined to answer questions about its application process, though the school did offer comments concerning Landry. Spokesman Mike Hotchkiss said: “We are very troubled by the report and the allegations of fraud. First and foremost, we are concerned for the affected students and their families. We remain committed to attracting and supporting talented students, including students from groups that have been underrepresented in higher education and denied the opportunities they need to flourish. Every one of our students is a valued member of our community.”

Hotchkiss told The Fix that this was “the only comment we are making on Landry at the moment.”

Brown, Stanford, Dartmouth, Cornell, and Wesleyan all failed to respond to The Fix’s queries.

According to The New York Times, Landry recorded grades higher than those actually earned and gave its students credit for rigorous classes they did not take. The school also provided inaccurate letters of recommendation which listed falsified extracurricular accomplishments.

The Times reported that officials at Landry were guilty of physically abusing students, failing to keep students in their proper classrooms throughout the day, and advising parents to lie about their incomes to receive more favorable financial aid packages. Some Landry students even testified that the founder of the school, Tracey Landry, shut a child with autism in a closet.

In the midst of this scandal, the Landry College Prep website still boasts about the school’s 100 percent graduation rate and the 25 million dollars in scholarship money earned by the school’s graduates. The website advertises that the school is for “outside-of-the-box thinkers.”

A “Testimonial” section on the Landry College Prep website currently reads: “Coming soon.”

MORE: Professors allow students to pick their own grade

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About the Author
Ryan Everson -- Arizona State University