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Review College Admissions Counseling Practices

Heather Salko, Esq.
February 2024
Admissions Counseling Masthead
How to evaluate and strengthen your school’s college counseling practices

After the investigation into a college admissions fraud and bribery scheme where parents either paid to alter their child’s SAT scores or falsified athletics credentials to gain preferential admission to eight elite universities, many high schools took steps to review their own college counseling practices.

That scandal reminds high schools to consider these practices:

  • Audit requests for extended time on any standardized admissions tests. Evaluate consistency with students’ known accommodation needs. Review anomalies, keeping in mind federal disabilities laws and privacy requirements.

  • Emphasize the importance of academic honesty and integrity throughout your school, not solely in academic assignments. Creating a culture of honesty will reduce the temptation to cheat. Emphasize these values with parents and students.

  • Examine inconsistencies counselors may discover, such as participation in an activity the student had not previously mentioned. Scrutinize any request to confirm a student-athlete’s status when the student doesn’t participate in that sport.

  • Review your process for hiring and vetting proctors if your school is a testing site that provides them. Review test security protocol and correct weaknesses.

  • Train school employees who provide students with admissions references. Outline appropriate behaviors and considerations for references. Provide information on how to report concerns about a student’s application or reference request.

  • Review college counseling office practices and procedures to ensure consistency in treatment of students and the security of school records.

  • Review your student discipline process regarding college applications. Does your requirement of academic honesty extend to admissions materials the student submits? Determine whether your rules and process apply to college applications. If not, consider updating your student disciplinary process to expressly address college admissions.


Additional Resources

McLean High School: Honor Code

Harvard Graduate School of Education: Report on Admissions

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