Klapper College Admission Scandal (Issue 3, Op-Ed)

by Sandy Grees (’21)

In recent weeks, an additional parent has been sentenced to prison time and fined for her involvement in the Varsity Blues scandal that was exposed last spring. That parent was Marjorie Klapper. It has come out that in addition to paying $15,000 to falsify SAT and ACT scores for her son, she also mislabeled him as African American or Hispanic in his college applications. She also falsely stated that her son would be the first in the family to go to college. According to the Assistant US Attorney Justin O’Connell, “Ms. Klapper did not want to level the playing field, she wanted to rig the entire game.” By incorrectly portraying her son as an underprivileged first-generation person of color, Klapper both significantly raised his chances of gaining admission to top colleges while significantly lowering chances of other legitimately underprivileged high achieving students. Klapper went further in her crimes than the other parents involved in the scandal  because she directly targeted minority students. The fact that her son applied as a first-generation person of color with the financial ability to pay the full tuition gives him an extremely unfair advantage to real minority students. In addition to fraud, Klapper committed an even worse crime in taking the spots of other deserving students. US Attorney Andrew Lelling stated, “Ms. Klapper thereby not only corrupted the standardized testing system, but also specifically victimized the real minority applicants already fighting for admission to elite schools.” I would agree with this statement; the college admissions scandal that Klapper was part of was not a victimless crime. Using wealth to inaccurately portray a child as more qualified than they actually are directly puts the admission chances of other students at risk. Klapper pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three weeks in jail. Compared to other parents who have pleaded guilty, her sentence is harsher than normal. However, this sentence does not accurately represent the magnitude of the injustice Klapper and the other accused parents have perpetrated against minority students. Many first-generation applicants of color, who are what Klapper’s son claimed to be, are at a financial disadvantage and do not have access to as many opportunities as wealthier candidates. Adding the factor of bribery and fraud into the college application process makes an uneven playing field infinitely more slanted. Additionally, the consequences of Klapper’s and other parents’ actions will reach much farther than just this college application cycle. The uncovering of this major nationwide scandal will lead to more colleges questioning the legitimacy of test scores, and doubting the truthfulness of applicants’ personal information that could potentially affect their college acceptance. The Marjorie Klapper case should make everyone wonder how these wealthy Americans were allowed to take advantage of the college admissions system for so long.

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