NACAC Urges Recommitment to Integrity in Wake of College Bribery Scandal

Contact: Shanda Ivory

Arlington, VA (March 12, 2019) — The National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) urged its members today to redouble their commitment to integrity within the college admission process following news reports of efforts by wealthy individuals to get their children into selective colleges and universities as part of a long-running cheating scam.

“This is an unfortunate example of the lengths to which people will go to circumvent and manipulate the college admission process, particularly to gain admission to highly selective colleges,” Stefanie Niles, NACAC president and vice president for enrollment and communications at Ohio Wesleyan University, said of the allegations, calling them an “extreme response to the commodification of the college admission process—one that is focused on college acceptance as an end unto itself.”

The alleged crimes included cheating on entrance exams, as well as bribing college officials to say certain students were coming to compete on athletic teams when those students were not in fact athletes, according to The Washington Post. “The criminal complaint paints an ugly picture of high-powered individuals committing crimes to get their children into selective schools.” 

“Admission and counseling professionals understand and have valued ethical behavior as stated in our Code of Ethics and Professional Practices for well over 80 years,” Niles said. “We strive to ensure that all students are treated equitably throughout the process.”

The National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), founded in 1937, is an organization of more than 15,000 professionals from around the world dedicated to serving students as they make choices about pursuing postsecondary education. NACAC is committed to maintaining high standards that foster ethical and social responsibility among those involved in the transition process, as outlined in the association's Code of Ethics and Professional Practices.

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Media Mentions

NACAC was in high demand as a source for comment on the bribery scandal. Reporters spoke to Joyce Smith, NACAC CEO; Stefanie Niles, NACAC president; David Hawkins, NACAC's executive director of educational content and policy; and many current members to provide the perspective of the counseling and admission profession. The following is a sample:

NPR, The Los Angeles TimesTime, Wired: NACAC President Stefanie Niles weighs in on the college admission scandal. (March 2019)

The Washington Post, Education Week, Inside Higher Ed: David Hawkins, NACAC’s executive director for educational content and policy, discusses the unethical behavior in the college admission scam and the Code of Ethics and Professional Practices. (March 2019)

The New York Times, Politico, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Philadelphia Inquirer: The original NACAC statement on the college admission scandal was quoted. (March 2019)

Good Morning America: NACAC members Bari Norman and Davin Sweeney share what they want parents and students to know in the wake of the admission scandal. (March 13)

The Chronicle of Higher Education: NACAC members Beverly Low, Marie Bigham, and Arun Ponnusamy respond in the immediate wake of the college admission scandal. (March 13)

Associated Press – NACAC President-elect Jayne Fonash discusses accommodations for students with disabilities in light of the recent college admission scandal. (March 13)

USA Today: NACAC members Sonali Bridges, Colleen Ganjian, and Mark Sklarow explain the role of independent educational consultants in light of the recent college admission scam. (March 14)

The Philadelphia Inquirer: Jim Jump, former NACAC president, compares the recent admission scandal to “getting hacked.” (March 14)

The Christian Science Monitor: NACAC member Todd Rinehart discusses the importance of NACAC’s Code of Ethics and Professional Practices. (March 15)

The New York Times: NACAC members Joyce Slayton Mitchell, Janet Rosier, and Aviva Legatt give advice to students and parents looking for credible college admission information. (March 18)

The Washington Post: NACAC member Jon Boeckenstedt and the International ACAC were quoted in a piece on the ACT and SAT’s use in the college admission process. (March 19)

The New York Times: NACAC member Katherine Pastor-Lorents discusses the relationship between IECs and school counselors in light of the recent scandal. (March 20)

The Today Show: NACAC research was featured in a piece on the college admission process after the scandal. (March 20)

PBS NewsHour: NACAC President-elect Jayne Fonash discusses the recent college admission scam and what she wishes parents and students knew about the process. (March 20)


Updated 3/26/19

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