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This entertaining exposé on how the other half gets in tells the shockingly true story of the Varsity Blues scandal, and all of the crazy parents, privilege, and con men involved. 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 wo This entertaining exposé on how the other half gets in tells the shockingly true story of the Varsity Blues scandal, and all of the crazy parents, privilege, and con men involved. 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. A world where the rich get whatever they want, however they want it.


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This entertaining exposé on how the other half gets in tells the shockingly true story of the Varsity Blues scandal, and all of the crazy parents, privilege, and con men involved. 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 wo This entertaining exposé on how the other half gets in tells the shockingly true story of the Varsity Blues scandal, and all of the crazy parents, privilege, and con men involved. 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. A world where the rich get whatever they want, however they want it.

30 review for Guilty Admissions: The Bribes, Favors, and Phonies behind the College Cheating Scandal

  1. 4 out of 5

    Susie Stangland

    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.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Karen Ng

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This book is a must read for a few types of readers: 1) Readers who enjoyed investigative journalism as Bad Blood, The Only Plane in the Sky, Catch and Kill, and Billion Dollar Whale. 2) People who wonder what kind of circumstances has led to the 2019 scandal known as "Varsity Blues" that involved rich businessmen as well as Hollywood celebrities, and why LA/USC was the perfect location for the kind of exploitations to take place. The book introduced the readers to the competitive world in college This book is a must read for a few types of readers: 1) Readers who enjoyed investigative journalism as Bad Blood, The Only Plane in the Sky, Catch and Kill, and Billion Dollar Whale. 2) People who wonder what kind of circumstances has led to the 2019 scandal known as "Varsity Blues" that involved rich businessmen as well as Hollywood celebrities, and why LA/USC was the perfect location for the kind of exploitations to take place. The book introduced the readers to the competitive world in college admission and offered a detailed background of Rick Singer's upbringing and personality- which indirectly caused his later criminal activities. The scandal exposed the problems of college admission, loopholes in athlete recruits, as well as the side/backdoor process of the privileged few. I think this book should also be read by: 3) Educators, parents, high school counselors as well as psychologists catering to children/teens. My favorite part of the book was the chapter about how rich parents prepare their child as early as preschool. Chapter 4: Toddler Admissions Mania. I laughed out loud so many times since I'm a mom of 3 young adults and used to live in an area with similar demographics/income as the parents presented in the book. There's so much more I love about this book since read like a plot-driven fiction that the readers would be unable to put down. I'll end this review with a quote: "This is not about what school your child attends ot does not attend. This is about the morals and values you instill in your children. That's what matters, That's what gets you from point A to point B." ~Michele Gathrid, director of a feeder preschool.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Caroline David

    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. 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.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Richard

    An amazing account of an unbelievable scandal. Brilliant research by Nicole LaPorte captures not just the machinations and growth of this awful scheme, but the corruption of the entire admissions world beneath it. A must read!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Meredith

    **I received and voluntarily read an e-ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.** The first of many books that I will be reading about the college admissions scandal. The beginning is a little dry and slow, but not the worst I've read. I had hoped that maybe I would be able to see why these parents felt that getting their children into college was worth anything, even jail time. After all, most parents feel this way, right? Spoiler alert- for most of **I received and voluntarily read an e-ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.** The first of many books that I will be reading about the college admissions scandal. The beginning is a little dry and slow, but not the worst I've read. I had hoped that maybe I would be able to see why these parents felt that getting their children into college was worth anything, even jail time. After all, most parents feel this way, right? Spoiler alert- for most of the parents involved in the scandal it boils down to this: their children could basically get into any school EXCEPT the ones the parents wanted. And if poor little Beth down the block has to suffer through a state school so my perfect little Susan can go to an Ivy, who cares? My perfect Susan is way more special (and rich!) than little Beth anyway. And who cares that Susan has never rowed (or other sport) before and little Beth has been on the crew team for years? Look at how pretty my Susan with her perfect blowout will look in the uniform compared to little Beth and that not-on-purpose messy bun! Here, have tons of money to make sure that Susan gets into the spot that Beth actually worked for and deserves. Overall, it's a nice job on the writing. It's not something that I would read more than once, but I'm glad I read it. I didn't have any sympathy for the parents and very little for their children before I read this, and I have even less sympathy for their children now.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Beejoli

    Well this book was just fantastic. I picked it up as a fan of investigative journalism, as well as a product of an LA magnet school and my own round of (legal!) independent college counseling as a high school student. First of all, this book is so damn readable. I tore through it in a day, because Nicole LaPorte laid out the story so well. Rather than focusing on the famous bad actors in this scandal from the outset, LaPorte draws you into the world of how this could happen by making this as muc Well this book was just fantastic. I picked it up as a fan of investigative journalism, as well as a product of an LA magnet school and my own round of (legal!) independent college counseling as a high school student. First of all, this book is so damn readable. I tore through it in a day, because Nicole LaPorte laid out the story so well. Rather than focusing on the famous bad actors in this scandal from the outset, LaPorte draws you into the world of how this could happen by making this as much a book about parenting and education as it is a story about a scandal. While she doesn’t once try to invoke sympathy for the wealthy parents at the center of this scandal, by the end, you can clearly understand how rich, well-connected parents (many who could have used their own connections!) were able to make these choices. That the answer wasn’t *just* wealth and greed shocked me, and the stylistic choice to not introduce the celebrities until the ecosystem that is upper middle class parenting was fully explained worked very well to help readers reach that conclusion. I’ve never read a book so well outlined - it’s a weird compliment but every single thread was answered, and the story was laid out in a way where it wasn’t just told chronologically - it tracked the arc of emotions that any parent would feel, before zeroing in on how these rich ones then took that common emotion to the level of felony. If you’re a fan of investigative journalism, scandals of the rich, education, or creative non fiction, this book is very much for you.

  7. 5 out of 5

    BookBlanketFort

    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 Singe 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.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Mrs B

    Compelling behind-the-scenes information regarding the Varsity Blues college admissions scandal. The author creates a fascinating insight into the lives of the California elite, and the hysteria, privilege paranoia and competitiveness that led business leaders and celebrities to use “side door” methods to cheat their way into securing college places for their sons and daughters. There are genuine jaw-dropping moments (one father was complicit in photoshopping his son into a water polo image in ord Compelling behind-the-scenes information regarding the Varsity Blues college admissions scandal. The author creates a fascinating insight into the lives of the California elite, and the hysteria, privilege paranoia and competitiveness that led business leaders and celebrities to use “side door” methods to cheat their way into securing college places for their sons and daughters. There are genuine jaw-dropping moments (one father was complicit in photoshopping his son into a water polo image in order to secure a water polo placement). There are moments of mad desperation (the parents who select kindergartens on the basis of whether these will become feeder schools for the Ivy League). Lots of corrupt coaches and of course Rick Singer, the rapacious fixer behind the scenes. But most of all these are moments of real sadness - the mums who worry that their kids with learning disabilities will be denied a fair chance at college, and the students themselves, who innocently believed they were granted college places on their own merits and endeavours, while behind the scenes their loving parents were manipulating the system on their behalf.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Harris

    A fascinating and thorough in-depth analysis of the Varsity Blues scandal that details not just the crimes perpetrated by Rick Singer, coaches at various university, and the parents, but also shows the mentality of the parents who send their children to "elite" preschools in the hopes that it will put on them on the path for admission to a top college. I didn't know much about the scandal other than what I read in news reports when the story broke so it was really interesting to see how Rick Sin A fascinating and thorough in-depth analysis of the Varsity Blues scandal that details not just the crimes perpetrated by Rick Singer, coaches at various university, and the parents, but also shows the mentality of the parents who send their children to "elite" preschools in the hopes that it will put on them on the path for admission to a top college. I didn't know much about the scandal other than what I read in news reports when the story broke so it was really interesting to see how Rick Singer preyed on these parents and groomed them to pay him RIDICULOUS amounts of money to help leverage admission to colleges and universities that their children otherwise might not have gotten into. Now, I'm not saying these parents are necessarily innocent of the criminal acts they are accused of, but the idea of circumventing the traditional admission process (by using the "side-door" as Singer called it) to get their children into college didn't seem like something any of them would have considered but for Singer's insistence and intervention.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    This is just another example of how corrupt the higher education system is in the US. I remember my own journey to prep for college applications and how I "gamed the system" by deciding not to play. While everyone else was buying into the idea of trying to get accepted to the more prestigious colleges even ones they couldn't afford I looked around and realized my local state school was the way to go. And suddenly I wasn't really worried about my SAT score and my I knew my grades were good enough This is just another example of how corrupt the higher education system is in the US. I remember my own journey to prep for college applications and how I "gamed the system" by deciding not to play. While everyone else was buying into the idea of trying to get accepted to the more prestigious colleges even ones they couldn't afford I looked around and realized my local state school was the way to go. And suddenly I wasn't really worried about my SAT score and my I knew my grades were good enough. I was unapologetic about my choice of a local state school. If these high society parents would view their children as people instead of another accessory or bragging right then I feel like this scam could never have happened. Several kids in the stories wanted different schools or even not to attend college but their parents wanted the bragging rights of saying a prestigious name. I was at turns disgusted, pitying, and fascinated by this world where a name on a sweatshirt or the "we got in post" was more important than one's own morals.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Terry Swindell

    “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 sc “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.

  12. 5 out of 5

    L.A. Barnes

    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 gu 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.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jesse

    More focused on the sociopathy of Rick Singer (as victimizer of those poor parents; LaPorte covers the entertainment industry, and she gets the LA-rich-person sociology from the inside) than on the coaches and other enablers (which the WSJ reporters' book handles well) that made it possible. Some bizarre descriptive lapses when conveying basic information, but an engrossing read. Most horrifying quotation, from among very many options: (p.85) "But parents who do apply rarely leave their chances More focused on the sociopathy of Rick Singer (as victimizer of those poor parents; LaPorte covers the entertainment industry, and she gets the LA-rich-person sociology from the inside) than on the coaches and other enablers (which the WSJ reporters' book handles well) that made it possible. Some bizarre descriptive lapses when conveying basic information, but an engrossing read. Most horrifying quotation, from among very many options: (p.85) "But parents who do apply rarely leave their chances to a few phone calls, seeing preschool admissions as a game that requires working every connection and advantage. To increase their odds, they solicit recommendations from current or former Circle [the school in question] families as well as, in some cases, endorsements from influencers in the West LA baby and toddler scene." Influencers in the West LA baby and toddler scene.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jeanne

    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 col 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.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Virginia Van

    Set within the context of the pressure for wealthy parents' to assure their children's success, from getting into the "right" pre-school to the "right" university, LaPorte looks at the Varsity Blues scandal. Rick Singer, a unscrupulous college counselor, preyed on this pressure by convincing wealthy parents that only he could insure their child's acceptance an elite university through "the side door" - which really meant bribing athletic departments to fast track the candidate in exchange for " Set within the context of the pressure for wealthy parents' to assure their children's success, from getting into the "right" pre-school to the "right" university, LaPorte looks at the Varsity Blues scandal. Rick Singer, a unscrupulous college counselor, preyed on this pressure by convincing wealthy parents that only he could insure their child's acceptance an elite university through "the side door" - which really meant bribing athletic departments to fast track the candidate in exchange for " a donation" . A peak behind the curtain at the lives of the ultra-wealthy the cut throat world of American college admissions. A fascinating read which shows a degree of sympathy for the families involved.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Laura Dvorak

    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. ⁣ ⁣ 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 en 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. ⁣ ⁣ 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. ⁣

  17. 5 out of 5

    Shannan Hicks

    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 sti 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.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Pat Lampe

    I found this audiobook so interesting. It was well organized and laid out the problems — first world without doubt — that are associated with school admission for the children of the 1%. Enter Rick Singer who is brash and pushy but knows the intricacies of college admission. His private tutoring is increasingly unethical but his reputation carries the day for many parents. The book points out the different coaches involved in his scheme and also the parents who for their own reasons chose to use I found this audiobook so interesting. It was well organized and laid out the problems — first world without doubt — that are associated with school admission for the children of the 1%. Enter Rick Singer who is brash and pushy but knows the intricacies of college admission. His private tutoring is increasingly unethical but his reputation carries the day for many parents. The book points out the different coaches involved in his scheme and also the parents who for their own reasons chose to use him. I felt compassion for some of the parents and disdain for the arrogant parents. It is a really good book and left me thinking about the whole issue of college.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    https://littorallibrarian.org/unaccep... 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). https://littorallibrarian.org/unaccep... 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.

  20. 5 out of 5

    James McGlynn

    Rick Singer concocted a scheme to get rich kids into "prestige" colleges. Instead of endowments he would bribe coaches and get kids in the "side door". He also employed a SAT test taker. Everyone involved looks dirty. Maybe the peak of the elite university power. They created the exclusive demand but it might be crumbling due to expense. The rich kids finagled the testing system by getting "504" accommodations so they could take 2 days to take the test. "504" should be outlawed as they are unfai Rick Singer concocted a scheme to get rich kids into "prestige" colleges. Instead of endowments he would bribe coaches and get kids in the "side door". He also employed a SAT test taker. Everyone involved looks dirty. Maybe the peak of the elite university power. They created the exclusive demand but it might be crumbling due to expense. The rich kids finagled the testing system by getting "504" accommodations so they could take 2 days to take the test. "504" should be outlawed as they are unfair to those who take the appropriate time.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Susan Liston

    this is pretty closely aligned to the documentary that just landed on Netflix. Incredible, I mean who even knew there was such a thing as a $350 an hour "coach" to help prepare your toddler to ace their kindergarten admission interview? Who knew there was such a thing as a kindergarten admission interview? These rich people are crazy, good to see them land in prison and why oh why do supposedly intelligent people continually fall for pathologically lying con artists, anyway? this is pretty closely aligned to the documentary that just landed on Netflix. Incredible, I mean who even knew there was such a thing as a $350 an hour "coach" to help prepare your toddler to ace their kindergarten admission interview? Who knew there was such a thing as a kindergarten admission interview? These rich people are crazy, good to see them land in prison and why oh why do supposedly intelligent people continually fall for pathologically lying con artists, anyway?

  22. 5 out of 5

    Eric

    I believe LaPorte has presented us with a pretty seamy picture of what went into the "Varsity Blues" scandal without focusing unduly on a particular miscreant except, perhaps, for Mr. Singer. I do question how the testing people were bamboozled into letting either the wrong people take a test, or letting someone assist - that was not wholly explained. And the unholy alliance between athletics and admissions sounded a touch peculiar, also without full explanation. I believe LaPorte has presented us with a pretty seamy picture of what went into the "Varsity Blues" scandal without focusing unduly on a particular miscreant except, perhaps, for Mr. Singer. I do question how the testing people were bamboozled into letting either the wrong people take a test, or letting someone assist - that was not wholly explained. And the unholy alliance between athletics and admissions sounded a touch peculiar, also without full explanation.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Zachary

    Interesting and damning, both of Singer, the mastermind behind the scam, and of higher education, especially the elite institutions that have put themselves out of reach for most and created the niche for this kind of malfeasance. I wish, though, that there had been more about the parents and the aftermath of the scam being uncovered. The book got awfully rushed in the end, just as it was getting very interesting.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Cecilia

    Good enough book for background on the college admissions fraud. However it does seem to great take care to excuse the parents’ and completely absolve the children’s behavior. I would love to read more about the investigation on the law enforcement side because from reading this it seems like the investigation was so incompetent it’s amazing anything came of it. I’m surprised that universities don’t employ fact-checkers for applicants. That’s pretty ridiculous.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kayo

    Super impressed with the author and all the facts of the case. What is aggravating is the gall of these parents, and the kids too. You can't tell me that those kids didn't know anything that was going on. But anyway, great book, informative. Thanks to ,publisher and Netgalley for the chance to read this book. While I got the book for free,it had no bearing on the rating I gave it. Super impressed with the author and all the facts of the case. What is aggravating is the gall of these parents, and the kids too. You can't tell me that those kids didn't know anything that was going on. But anyway, great book, informative. Thanks to ,publisher and Netgalley for the chance to read this book. While I got the book for free,it had no bearing on the rating I gave it.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    Guilty Admissions is a home run! The author provides in depth details behind the scandal and the parents who participated in the scam. She shines a light on what went on behind the scenes and brings it to life for the reader. This book is a classic truth is stranger than fiction. Fascinating read and hard to put down! Thank you to Netgalley.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Katie Martin

    I have received this title via NetGalley and publishers in exchange for an honest review 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.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Angela Williamson

    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. 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.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    I made it about two-thirds of the way through the book and finally stopped because the people involved were so appalling. The writing was good and the reporting solid but I got tired of reading about how rich people cheated to "beat" a system that's already rigged in their favor. I made it about two-thirds of the way through the book and finally stopped because the people involved were so appalling. The writing was good and the reporting solid but I got tired of reading about how rich people cheated to "beat" a system that's already rigged in their favor.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Atkyn Garza

    Great book! I’ve heard so much about this scandal so I was aware of the background on this, but it was interesting to learn about the tiny details the media hasn’t put out there. The author did a good job of highlighting that. I would recommend.

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