Nov 8, 2010

Harvard Admissions Office Considers a Variety of Anti-Fraud Measures

At an information session targeted to DC-area college counselors, Dean William Fitzsimmons hinted that the Harvard College Office of Admissions would be implementing a variety of measures designed to detect fraud in applications submitted for the class of 2015.

“After some soul searching last summer, we have put new procedures in place,” explained Fitzsimmons. “While we obviously won’t be providing many details, these procedures will put us in a better position to catch fraud.”

In the wake of a recent scandal involving a student admitted to Harvard allegedly using falsified application documents, University President Drew Faust suggested that changes were necessary to prevent a repeat of what became a huge embarrassment to the school. Using what were found to be doctored transcripts, SAT scores, and letters of recommendation, Adam B. Wheeler was admitted to Harvard and Stanford Universities as well as Williams College as a transfer student.

The case is clearly a sore point for the Harvard admissions office and remains unsettled. A November 8th hearing date has been set for Wheeler, who so far has pled not guilty to charges of fraud.

While declining to give specifics, Fitzsimmons did acknowledge that Harvard had explored the system of random application audits being employed for the first time this year by Stanford University. More likely, however, will be the possibility of making phone calls to guidance counselors who wrote letters of recommendation on behalf of admitted students.

“After people are admitted, you might get a call from us,” Fitzsimmons suggested to the counselor group. “We want to make contact and thank you for writing the recommendation.” The unspoken inference was that the conversation could also be used to verify information contained on the original application.

“There are many different ways of doing this,” concluded Fitzsimmons. “But we aren’t going to let concerns about a small minority of dishonest students take over the process.”

Picture provided by Wikipedia.

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