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Guilty Admissions

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A very detailed account of the Varsity Blues college admissions cheating scandal, this book covers the general college admissions craziness in this country, and the lengths to which hypercompetive, privileged helicopter parents will go to try to assure that their children have everything they could ever want. 

Though well-written and thoroughly researched, this book is for those who really want every last detail. I have personally preferred exploring this topic through other formats, like essays and podcasts, At times I felt bogged down by all the information.
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This was a non-stop read for me.  The author takes a story that was in all the news media for months and tells the reader how it all happened.  LaPorte gives a very balanced portrait of the parents who acted on behalf of their children's wants (not needs) and the pressure that ambitious parents and children live under.  Obviously, innumerable families manage to live meaningful and happy iives without moving heaven and earth (with some hell in the mix) to get the kids into Harvard or Georgetown, USC, Penn, etc.  Not to be admitted to a top tier school is equated with a ruined life, and that propelled these families to break federal law, bribe, commit fraud, and, in some cases, end up in prison.  
     LaPorte does an excellent job of setting the scene, beginning with preschool.  Children need to wear Golden Goose sneakers, which are manufactured to look pre-soiled, and other clothing items that leave no room for individuality.  Even babies' high chairs are carefully branded.  Toddlers receive tutoring at $350 per hour for God knows what...but it may cinch their acceptance to one of the top tier preschools.  Going to a top tier preschool is the precursor to acceptance at a top tier elementary school, and on and on, all of which lands the baby-now-teenager at the golden doors of Harvard or the next best college.
     To quote Randy Newman, "it's money that matters" and methods that enabled parents to become wealthy are applied to ensuring their offsprings' "success".  It's a tough world out there and you do what you've gotta do.  Enter Rick Singer, a sociopathic huckster who has gone from aspiring to become a college coach (you name the sport) to making use of the contacts he picked up along the way with high school college counselors, college coaches, and admissions directors.  It is very interesting and nauseating.  LaPorte draws the people in this book with precise, vivid portraits, and the unfolding of events has a suspense to it...you know what will happen, but the how is gripping.
     This is not a vicious attack on anyone.  It's even fair to Rick Singer who cannot help but look like a criminal and master manipulator.  LaPorte doesn't belabor the obvious questions about who we are as a country and a society.  The values and behaviors of the families in this book can be seen all around us.
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This was not an easy book to read. It was very well researched and comprehensive but there were just so many people involved. At first I tried keeping track of who was who but then just gave up. For myself it didn't matter who they were but more of what they did and why they did it. My impression of the whole situation as it played out in the news was these were a bunch of privileged people who thought that would just let their kids slack off in high school and pay their way into prestigious colleges. I still think that in some cases but there were others where I could see how they were suckered into it by Rick Singer. The greed of Rick Singer and the coaches he dealt with was just staggering to me.

I want to thank Netgalley and Twelve Books for providing me with a copy of this book.
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In Guilty Admissions by Nicole LaPorte, you are given an in depth look into 2019's college admissions scandal. This book reads almost like a novel and is very good at following the lengths entitled parents will go to in order to get their children into the schools they want. 
Thank you to NetGalley, Twelve Books and Nicole LaPorte for a copy of this book for review.
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Wow, super informative and timely. I loved the way this book was set up and the details were just enough that you got all of the information you needed but didn't feel bogged down. It was an easy read in that most things were in layman's terms and flowed really well. Normally books like this would be choppy but I didn't feel this way at all. Excellent work and very informative. This is your one stop shop for behind the scene information on the college admissions scandals.
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Guilty admissions is an excellent in depth account of the rabbit hole parents fell into and the college culture that encourages it. This was such an eye opening read regarding College admissions. I will definitely be reading more.
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This books investigations the 2019 college admissions scandal. I was able to read it prior to publication thanks to NetGalley.

I expected extremely entitled behavior from the parents, many of whom are either facing charges or have gone to jail. I expected ridiculous behavior from the con man who orchestrated this scheme, Rick Singer and there was plenty of that. What I didn't expect was to come away from this book feeling livid towards the colleges themselves. Make no mistake, the colleges are guilty parties in this scheme. They've lied to parents and students for years about their admission criteria. They've valued student athletes over all other students. They created a confusing environment that left the door open for bribery and unfair practices. Any parent of a school-aged child should read this. It won't give you a path through the madness but it will let you know what you're up against.
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I followed this story in the news and through it truly wondered how  Full House mom Lori Loughlin felt she was innocent. One chapter in and I did somewhat of a flip or at least understood the rabbit hole these parents fell into and the culture which feeds it beginning with the birth of their children. If you want to know the how and the why of this story, Nicole LaPorte’s book Guilty Admissions is a must for your 2021 reading list.
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Entertaining account of the college admissions scandal. I did not expect the book to go so in depth about all of the money the 1 percenters will spend to get their kids into the right schools. It's a status symbol thing apparently. Very informative book on the current insane state of college admissions in the US.
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Guilty Admissions by Nicole LaPorte is a superb read with well-defined characters and plotline. Definitely a page turner and well worth a read!
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Admittedly, I have been obsessed with Varsity Blues, the official name of the college admissions scandal of 2019.  This book does a great job of setting the scene and giving the background on the environment that caused very wealthy parents to commit clearly immoral and illegal acts to get their children into college.  It was interesting to get to know Rick Singer's background, as well as the other coaches and officials who helped him play his "side-door" shell game.  I know that the scandal is still contemporary so I would love to see a book later on that gives more of an historical view of this. However, I read this book like a novel, and it was very well-done.  I highly recommend it.
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Eat. The. Rich. 🙄⁣
⁣
Before today, the last time I saw my social media feed this united was during our outrage over the college admissions scandal. GUILTY ADMISSIONS is a deep dive into the people, process, and prosecution of all involved. ⁣
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The first half of this book was stronger than the second since I didn’t need the specifics on so many families once it was clear how Singer’s scheme worked. I honestly think this would have been better as a long form article or podcast series instead, but I enjoyed being baffled by how truly idiotic some people can be. ⁣
⁣
Thank you NetGalley and Twelve for the eARC in exchange for this review. ⁣
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"...Ripped from the headlines, this book is sure to be a crowd-pleaser with nonfiction readers..." - Full review to appear in BookList
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https://littorallibrarian.org/unacceptable-by-melissa-korn-and-jennifer-levitz/
NOTE: Some of this appeared in my review of Unacceptable by Melissa Korn and Jennifer Levitz, published and reviewed July 2020. Both books cover the “Varsity Blues” college admissions scandal. Prior to reading these books, my knowledge on the subject was pretty much limited to what I had seen in People magazine (Aunt Becky and one of the Desperate Housewives on the cover) and during late-night television (think SNL as well as monologues by various hosts). And as a former college instructor and a fan of various college sports, I had a superficial awareness of recruiting. Overall, if I had been asked whether some people got preferential admissions to colleges and universities based on income, celebrity, or athletic ability, my answer would probably have been “duh.” In recent years, I have seen friends and neighbors agonizing about their childrens’ efforts to get into a “good” school and hiring admissions counselors (which I had never heard of when I went to college), I admit I found the whole thing fascinating. I was surprised to learn the scandal that broke involving this subject was WAY bigger than the few famous names in the news.

In both Guilty Admissions and Unacceptable, Rick Singer is revealed as a sleazy guy who would do pretty much anything to get someone into their chosen college or university for the right price. And actress Lori Loughlin, her husband Mossimo Giannuli, and actress Felicity Huffman have been portrayed as parents who would pay whatever it took to get their kids into a chosen school. But there are so many more examples of the dozens of people caught up in the federal investigation into the criminal conspiracy designed to influence admissions officers at eleven schools.

Singer definitely is the central figure in the crimes, controlling two firms (Key Worldwide Foundation and The Edge College & Career Network) that were central to the fraud. The whole story started to come out when one of the (non-famous) parents, who happened to be under investigation for an unrelated securities crime, offered to give information about the admissions fraud that he had become aware of when the soccer coach at Yale asked him for $450,000 in exchange for helping get his daughter in to Yale. That coach pled guilty and led the Feds to Singer. As the scandal unfolded, many parents (including Felicity Huffman) pled guilty to mail fraud. Those who didn’t plead guilty (including Lori Laughlin) received additional federal charges of money laundering.

As it turned out, in addition to facilitating outright bribes such as those involving the Yale coach mentioned above, Singer frequently did the following: bribed exam administrators to facilitate cheating on SAT and ACT exams (including both hiring someone to take the exam in the applicants’ places and having someone change the applicants’ answers on the exams to improve scores); worked with coaches and administrators to nominate unqualified athletes as elite recruits for various sports; and used his charitable organization to launder payments. The whole thing was huge and complex, and he will serve decades in prison for his role.

What set this book apart was the focus on Southern California, and the exploration of the culture that leads parents (and students) to do anything to be in the “right” school...and that it starts in PRESCHOOL. LaPorte’s chapter “Toddler Admissions Mania” is stunning in its exposure of the “services” that are available for parents to prepare their little ones of the “kindergarten assessment test” they may need to take to ensure admission to their kindergarten of choice. One of the founders of a company that provides these services said “...she saw the need for a transitional program for preschoolers going into kinderga=rtenm so they may have the skills, confidence, and skill sets to thrive and build a strong foundation early on.”  Frankly, I was equally fascinated by the way these parents want to push their kids toward fulfilling their own aspirations and saddened by the idea of what this must be doing to the children. I was glued to both these books for days, and in both cases I came away with a few strong reactions. First, I admit I went into reading these books agreeing to some extent  with the defense attorneys that “Their clients were just doing what persons of prosperity have forever done to give their kids an edge.” Second, powerful people really do stick together in times of crisis: “One of the people who wrote the judge…was Jared Kushner.” And third, who knew that USC was so hard to get into? Long known by those of us from SoCal as the  “University of Spoiled Children,” many of us thought that pretty much anyone could get in, if they had a famous name or a big enough wallet. But times have really changed. For example, “In 2015, the USC athletics department hit its $300 million fundraising target.” And that is just ONE year, one school.

Unacceptable is 40%  footnotes/citations/documentation (including links to videos, documents, etc.). So anyone wondering how certain stories or events happened can definitely find the answer. It is very well done, and written so it reads like a novel. Guilty Admissions is an equally fascinating story, even more of a soap opera-ish look at the lack of ethical restraint that is becoming more and more the norm from the White House down.  Five stars, and thanks to Twelve Books and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for this honest review.
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I started the book and couldn't get in to it, despite fascination w/ the topic. I had listened to podcasts and followed the story, but this book didn't draw me in.
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Thank you to Netgalley for allowing me to read this book. Being an avid follower of this case, I knew I had to read this novel. For me, the first part of the book moved very slowly with a lot of details and information to layout the story but not as riveting as the second half of the book. The book just reemphasized how far these parents were willing to go in order to ensure their child's admission to the various universities and provided the insight behind the whole crazy scandal! The first of many books that I will be reading about the college admissions scandal.
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Guilty Admissions by Nicole LaPorte centers on the scandal made famous by the "elites" who cheated to get their kids admitted to prestigious schools. You might know it as Varsity Blues.  This book delves deep into the greed and entitlement which colored the lenses of parents who cheated their way into colleges to ensure their children would attend top schools. Its mind blowing but true, the lengths parents went to for their kids. 

It took me a while to get into this, but once I was engaged; I wanted to see what would happen next. I can't imagine the time and research the author put into this story! Well done.

Here is the official premise:

Guilty Admissions weaves together the story of an unscrupulous college counselor named Rick Singer, and how he preyed on the desperation of some of the country's wealthiest families living in a world defined by fierce competition, who function under constant pressure to get into the "right" schools, starting with pre-school; non-stop fundraising and donation demands in the form of multi-million-dollar galas and private parties; and a community of deeply insecure parents who will do anything to get their kids into name-brand colleges in order to maintain their own A-list status.

Investigative reporter Nicole LaPorte lays bare the source of this insecurity -- that in 2019, no special "hook" in the form of legacy status, athletic talent, or financial giving can guarantee a child's entrance into an elite school. The result is paranoia, deception, and true crimes at the peak of the American social pyramid.

With a glittering cast of Hollywood actors -- including Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin -- hedge fund CEOs, sales executives, and media titans, Guilty Admissions is a soap-opera-slash-sneak-peek-behind-the-curtains at America's richest social circles; an examination of the cutthroat world of college admissions; and a parable of American society in 2019, when the country is run by a crass tycoon and all totems of status and achievement have become transactional and removed from traditions of ethical restraint.


This book will be out on February 23, 2021. You can pre-order here!
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This book had an interesting premise. The lead-up to the actual investigation was rather slow and dull. The second half of the book was so good, I read it all in one day. The first half was so slow it took me almost a month to get through. It was very educational though, and I would recommend it
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“As I tell people all the time, if you’re going to spend five thousand dollars on a handbag, what is five thousand, ten thousand, to hire a college counselor?”  This quote explains the mindset of the people who participated in this scam.  I saw a 45-minute documentary about this case and was horrified, but the show simply exposes the tip of the iceberg.  This book tells the entire story of the greed, arrogance, and entitlement of the rich and famous as they “buy” a college educations at top-tier schools for their children.  It was definitely an eye-opener for me!  The book is well-written and provides a lot of detail.  The citations are set up at the end, and they are extensive.  I would definitely recommend this book.  Thanks to NetGalley for providing me with this ARC in return for my honest review.
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Wow. This book. A juicy deep dive into the Varsity Blues scandal. La Porte digs deep into the culture of the wealthy elites who thought they could bribe their children’s way into elite schools and get away with it. Perfect for fans of John Carreyrou’s Bad Blood. 

LaPorte digs deep into the Varsity Blues scandal, in which wealthy parents bribed sports coaches and faked standardized test results to get their children into elite colleges. At the center: college admissions counselor/conman Rick Singer. LaPorte learns Singer’s origin story, going way back to his childhood through his college years and rise in the college admissions world. LaPorte uses court documents to reconstruct conversations and learn exactly how the scandal operated.

Though it is nonfiction, the book reads like fiction because of the colorful cast of characters involved. LaPorte takes us from mommy bloggers to celebrities to CEOs and the culture of elite private grade schools and high schools. LaPorte explains the weak points in the colleges’ leadership and the pressure points for athletic coaches that allowed this scandal to incubate. Fascinating book and a must read.
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