Unacceptable by Melissa Korn & Jennifer Levitz

My brothers and I are the first members of our family to go to college. My oldest and middle brother chose a small private university in California. I answered back by choosing another small private university California, which just happened to be the rival of my brothers’ school.

When we were growing up, higher education was the next logical step. I would not say there was pressure to go to college, but it was just expected of us. When we applied to colleges, we did not consider the prestige of the school. To me, a bachelor’s degree was a bachelor’s degree, in the same way a hamburger was a hamburger. Sure, a hamburger at one restaurant may taste different or cost more, but it was simply a matter of preference.

I did not apply to the likes of Harvard, Yale, or Stanford. I applied to one school. I was accepted, and I enrolled. You can say that my family and I did not know any better. But even if we did, I am not sure if I would have made a different choice.

By now, most have heard of the college admissions scandal. Parents, determined to get their children into elite colleges and universities, paid a man named Rick Singer to get their kid in through the “side door.”

For generations, a “back door” existed (and still exists in part) in higher education. Mom or Dad donate millions of dollars to a school or program, and their child is essentially guaranteed a spot. As higher education became more and more scrutinized, accessing the “back door” became less appealing and less attainable. Rick Singer employed the “side door.” Instead of making big, flashy donations that caught the eye of public, parents would make various donations to smaller programs like tennis, crew, or lacrosse. Coaches, who were now tasked with raising money, were quick to comply. And many young men and women were admitted into some athletic programs without any intention of participating.

It was a perfect scheme, but greed and pride always lead to destruction.

This is a detailed book. I got lost in the cast of characters quite often, but it is a great book.

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