Friday, May 21, 2010

Newsy: Student faked his way to Harvard

23-year-old Adam Wheeler faces fraud charges after he allegedly lied his way into Harvard University.
"How do you get into Harvard, Rick Sanchez? You have good grades, you have stellar SAT scores, you have amazing teacher recommendations lie."(CNN)
23-year-old Adam Wheeler faces criminal charges after he allegedly did just that. The English major attended for two years before it was discovered that his too-good-to-be-true credentials were, in fact, too good to be true.
So how did Wheeler manage to fake his way into one of the most selective schools in the nation?
Boston news channel WCVB-TV weighs in on the issue.
RUSSELL: "... he was this close to getting a degree from Harvard, a senior when he was kicked out. Prosecutors say he spun an elaborate web of lies to get into the Ivy League school and never stopped lying."
A reporter for a Boston's WHDH-TV points out that Wheeler went to extraordinary lengths to pass off his fake records: "Prosecutors say Wheeler went so far as to lie about SAT scores, getting official SAT letterheading and claiming that he got a 1600."
So how easy is it to just lie your way into Harvard? A blog post on has this to say about the process: "Apparently, even applicants are above reproach on Harvard Yard, and nobody bothered to check the veracity of any of these claims (making me wonder why I ever had to take the SATs, let alone do well on them)."
The Huffington Post quotes an admissions director who says there are lots of ways to spot a fake application, such as matching letterheads and checking postmarks: "Wheeler somehow mimicked real documents convincingly enough to bypass these questions, or such checks were overlooked by admissions staffers."
However, the reporter quotes another official who says that the massive amounts of paper they go through in admissions make it nearly impossible to check every single one. In most cases, he says " have to assume people are honest."
An official Harvard statement appearing in the Boston Herald reads: “In the rare instance when we discover that someone has falsified his or her application materials, we typically rescind that individual’s admission.”
Go figure. 
We leave you with reaction from fellow Harvard students:
STUDENT: "He seemed nice, I don't really know him that well, but he definitely was really smart in class."
STUDENT: "But he's an idiot. Like, it was bound to happen sooner or later."
STUDENT: "It reminds me of the 'Catch Me If You Can' movie, I don't know, that's really random, but..."
WRITER: Krysta Brown

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