Officials respond to nationwide college admissions scandal

Officials confirmed Monday that GW is not part of an investigation into several institutions for allegedly allowing parents to buy their children’s way into top schools across the country.

Laurie Koehler, the senior vice provost for enrollment and the student experience, said in a University release that officials are creating additional guidelines to verify applicants’ credentials. Koehler also clarified GW’s general admissions policies, as well as procedures for legacy students and student-athletes.

“The University is confident that it has and will continue to operate a fair undergraduate admissions process that ensures only applicants who meet GW’s high standards are admitted,” she said in the release.

Three of GW’s 12 peer institutions – the University of Southern California and Wake Forest and Georgetown universities – are named in the lawsuit. Fifty individuals cited in the case allegedly doctored standardized test scores and paid athletic coaches to accept their children.

Koehler said that while GW went test-optional in 2016, students who submit standardized test scores are required to provide scores certified by the testing agency. Officials will work with national higher education admissions organizations to discuss potential changes to standardized testing procedures, she said.

Koehler said legacy students do not have an upper hand in the admissions process and students whose family members attended GW are held to the same standard as other students.

She added that student-athletes must undergo the “same rigorous admission standards” as other applicants, and the athletic department verifies recruits’ participation in their sports. The University will add more “verifications” during a student-athlete’s first year “to add even more redundancy to this process,” Koehler said.

“This case provides a meaningful opportunity to engage in a conversation – not just at GW but also with universities across the country – about the unhealthy pressure that students feel around the college admission process as well as look at our practices to see how we might help to further minimize that,” she said.

Other officials like the outgoing dean of the law school, Blake Morant, publicly commented on the scandal. Morant wrote in a Forbes article published Tuesday that individuals of wealth and privilege have “breached” admissions procedures at well-known institutions, which has garnered public anger.

“Utilization of fraudulent means to gain admission into colleges and universities must be forthrightly addressed, with perpetrators bearing the requisite consequences,” Morant said.

But Morant added that universities should not throw out qualitative criteria and resort to using only “academic metrics” to evaluate students.

“I hope that colleges and universities remain cognizant of the unique role they play in society and the need to admit capable, talented, and universally diverse student bodies,” Morant said. “Holistic admissions processes further this important goal and, commensurately, contribute to quality education in the 21st century.”

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