Coaches accused of falsely presenting prospective students as athletes have been fired or put on leave by their universities, and schools are reviewing their enrolled students to confirm no one else was involved.
Will the students be expelled or allowed to continue attending school? And what about those who may be in the middle of the admissions process, at this busy time of year when colleges are whittling down the number of applications and sending acceptance letters?
I also sympathize with the college admissions officers who must read these essays.
Last week, federal prosecutors charged 50 people, including Hollywood actresses, business leaders and elite college coaches, in a brazen scheme to buy spots in the freshman classes at elite American universities.
But as a teacher, I am willing in fairness to offer only limited assistance, similar to what I might offer my own college English students.
For example, I never tell them what to write about, since generating an essay topic is part of the writing process for which they’re responsible.
But also facing scrutiny are professional essay coaches, hired as script doctors for the autobiographical essays students must include with their college applications.
I have never been employed as a college essay coach.
But I believe she leans to the wrong side of that line, especially given that she is being paid by the students and their families. But so does the college essay coaching industry, which appears to operate with not much more integrity than a term paper mill.
The arrangement is one of salesperson pleasing a paying customer, not teacher schooling a student. Universities could require that essays be written in the presence of a university proctor. Something must be done to eliminate, or at least heavily discourage, what amounts to another form of pay-to-play at America’s most exclusive colleges.