Standardized test scores are manufactured. Transcripts are made up. High-stakes admissions decisions are issued based on fabricated extracurricular activities, ghostwritten personal essays and the size of the check written by the parents of the applicant.
American universities are often cast as the envy of the world, august institutions that select the best and the brightest young people after an objective and rigorous selection process.
But the bribery scandal unveiled by the Justice Department this week — and a number of other high-profile cases that have captured the headlines in recent months — has shown the admissions system to be something else entirely: exploitable, arbitrary, broken.