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Stealing Harvard

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by SaintBastard, May 21, 2010.

  1. SaintBastard

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    23 Year Old from Deleware Dupes Harvard

    Adam Wheeler, a 23-year old from Delaware, is being charged with larceny, identity theft, and fraud after faking his way into Harvard and taking the school for $45,000 in scholarships, grants, and financial aid. He pulled out all the stops as well. He claimed he got straight A's at Phillips Academy Andover and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology before enrolling at Harvard. He would have gotten away with it too (he was only two weeks away from graduation) if he hadn't applied for Rhodes and Fulbright scholarships.

    Haha.

    Focus: We all do it. When have you ever inflated your credentials or spun the truth to get what you wanted? Ever been caught or did you get away with it? Know anyone who has engaged in similar activities?

    Alt. Focus: Discuss Wheeler. Think you should get a Harvard degree if you can fake your way in? What, no points for creativity? Think this guy has a promising career in used car sales? Would you hire a guy who managed to fake his way into Harvard?

    Alt. Alt. Focus: Does anyone here do background checks? How does it work? Is it just a lot of phone calls, or is there much more to it?
     
  2. Howie F

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    I remember seeing a show on Dateline or some other expose show about essentially creating an identity out of thin air with fictitious credentials and then applying to prestigious schools like Duke, Harvard, Stanford, etc. to see what would happen. The results were that the 'students' were admitted without even an in-person interview at a rate of some 40% (this is from memory and may be a little off).

    I think it was a John Stossel report. Anyhow, he confronted the school admins who accepted the students and they were embarrassed to say the least.
     
  3. Rob4Broncos

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    Two weeks away from graduating, you say? At Harvard? In the words of Clay Davis, sheeeeeeeeeeee-it. Give the man his diploma. He may have lied to get in, but he still did the work to get through undergrad.
     
  4. slippingaway

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    Don't forget the admissions employees who have been busted for lying on their resumes. I can't remember what school it was now, but I remember reading about an admissions director that had participated in some kind of report or article about academic dishonesty and lying on applications. Within a matter of weeks, she had been busted for lying about half of her qualifications, and was forced to resign.

    I think that if they were dumb enough to award that guy the grants and scholarships without checking any of his background, it's their own damn fault. Obviously he had the smarts, so I say let him finish, and give him the degree. He's probably worked harder for that thing than anyone else there.
     
  5. PoppaBear

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    The story doesn't really elaborate on him "doing the work to get through undergrad".

    I think that he was only there for one year--this is what I think of when reading the story: Faked his grades for one of the best prep schools in the world, then faked grades for MIT--but only 3 years of MIT. The only reason I think this is because he only received $45,000 in scholarship money from Harvard--which amounts to only one year (2 semesters, fall and spring) of schooling. And this makes even more sense if you look at it from the Delawares point of view: "Let's do the least amount of classes possible without raising eyebrows." Transferring in semester 8 in semester 7 probably would have raised more eyebrows. Transferring in semester 7 is plausible in my mind, because it's Harvard--almost anyone would transfer there if given the chance. You graduate with a Harvard degree then (I did say almost, please no hateful PMs for that comment).

    ALT. FOCUS: In the alternate universe where laws change when we all snap our fingers, and agree assuredly like bobbleheads on certain arguments, I feel this man should get his degree with a red star attached, but only under certain circumstances. 1) He pays Harvard back $45,000 plus interest, at the rate of interest that would be accrued if it were a student loan.
    2) He has to put it on his resume. He gets to put that he completed a year of college at Harvard by tricking the admissions crew. But he has to put his story on there too, or at least something like a red star, that employers will ask about.

    I mean, in my eyes, this guy thought outside of the (rather small) box to get into Harvard. But please don't give me the bullshit saying that he completed coursework at the school...at almost any given school, if you want to make your senior year easier, you can do it. Maybe he had a job lined up. He certainly wasn't staying in academics, as that would be too dangerous. B/c of this fact, he probably wasn't one of the kids who took a head start on grad classes by taking 600 level classes. So in my mind, he just completed a year of college at basically any school, and got in by tricking the admissions crew. That's it--not the great academic minds of Harvard, or their president, or the school itself, as I've been referring to. To me, it stands that he tricked Harvard's Admission team, not that he tricked Harvard. Pretty unimpressive in my book, but let him tell the story--he could have put a lot more time into it than I thought.
     
  6. MoreCowbell

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    Ever seen that episode of How I Met Your Mother where Barney is telling these awesome stories, but always ruins them by throwing in one part at the end that makes it obvious that he's lying? And Marshall keeps saying, "Dude, one too many."

    There's like, 12 "one too many" 's on this guy's resume.

    You think he'd at least fake things that aren't a) ridiculous, and b) easily verifiable.
     
  7. lust4life

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    So, if a computer geek hacks into [insert whomever you like]'s computer system, he shouldn't be prosecuted because he outsmarted the techies at said company/agency? I don't think "You weren't as smart as me" has much merit as a legal defense. Sheepskin denied and prosecute.
     
  8. MoreCowbell

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    One thing that was unclear: exactly who's identity did he steal? Or can you get charged with identity theft for simply making shit up?


    It would be kind of neat if this whole act was some form of really, really dedicated performance art.




    Also, doesn't that line only work if you uh, don't get caught? Because otherwise, you didn't really outsmart them.
     
  9. dixiebandit69

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    Anyone else reminded of George P. Burdell?

    Here's what Cracked had to say about it in their article, The 7 Ballsiest Pranks You Won't Believe Actually Worked.

    This is the prank that turned into one of the longest running jokes in history.

    If Hollywood has taught us anything, it's that all the coolest pranks are pulled at college. Students go to college not for the academics but for the chance to commit wacky hijinks and finally get that mean old dean, possibly with the aid of a goat or a large number of bras. Needless to say, those of us who were raised by 80s movies were extremely disappointed when we went to college and discovered that the average prank involved waiting for a dude to pass out and then drawing dongs on his face.

    The truly elaborate shenanigans seem to exist only in the movies. But that's only because so few pranksters these days possess the perseverance and apparently limitless spare time of one William Edgar Smith, a Georgia Tech student from 1927. Though maybe we shouldn't be surprised by the spare time thing considering he had no Internet, TV, video games or legal alcohol available to him, and only the most primitive forms of pornography.

    What he did have was an extra copy of the school's enrollment form, that had been sent to him by mistake.
    Smith signed up a fictitious student by the name of George P. Burdell and enrolled him for all of the same classes Smith was in. Then he proceeded to do this fictional student's course work, in addition to his own. For the entire time he was in school.

    To keep up the ruse, Smith would change up both the wording and the handwriting for a second copy of every single assignment, just to make it look legit. On exam day, same thing--in the time allotted to the rest of the students to take the exam once, Smith would do it once for himself and then knock out a second copy for his imaginary friend. Just for the pure hell of it.
    Of course, this being a prominent university and full of smart people, it didn't take faculty long to catch on. Well, unless you consider the time it took the fictional student to earn a Bachelor's Degree to be a long time. Because he did just that. It was only upon graduation that the story broke and the university realized they had awarded a degree to the equivalent of Russell Crowe's imaginary roommate in A Beautiful Mind.

    That was just the beginning of Burdell's career, however. The fake student stunt immediately became legendary at Georgia Tech, and other students kept turning in work for him until he earned his Master's Degree. Later, jokers in the military would list Burdell as one of the crew members on their bombers, and MAD magazine for years would claim he sat on their Board of Directors. In 2000, some wise guy declared him to be an alternate delegate to the Democratic National Convention.

    In 2001, he was in the lead for TIME magazine's Man of the Year before they yanked him from contention and told the pranksters to just fucking give it up already because the joke was 70 years past its comedy expiration date. If only they understood that when a running joke runs long enough, it becomes funny again.
     
  10. SaintBastard

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    If you believe Gawker...

    "Although he told Harvard he prepped at Andover and transferred in from MIT, Adam Wheeler was actually a 2005 graduate of Caesar Rodney High School in Delaware, a public school, where he scored 1160 and 1220 on his SATs (but told Harvard he's scored a perfect 1600). With false claims about books and other academic accomplishments, he allegedly bilked Harvard out of some $45,000 in scholarships and aid, and went so far as to apply for Rhodes and Fulbright scholarships."

    "The resume notably leaves out a pre-Harvard collegiate experience that is actually true: Wheeler's enrollment at Maine liberal arts school Bowdoin College from 2005-2007, where he was kicked out for academic dishonesty."

    And here...

    "His application packet included fabricated recommendations from Harvard professors and a college transcript detailing perfect grades over three years. Wheeler's resume listed numerous books he had co-authored, lectures he had given, and courses he had taught, according to authorities."

    "Wheeler also had some successes: The English department awarded him the Hoopes and Winthrop Sargent Prizes in 2009, as well as a grant for academic research."

    I think that puts him at transferring as a sophomore. If you read that Gawker article, he also apparently applied to different jobs with different fabricated backgrounds. Haha. If this guy were a woman, he would would probably lie about his dog's age.
     
  11. Aetius

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    When it comes to Harvard, getting in is the hard work needed to get through undergrad.

    Focus: One of my classmates went to Harvard. His application contained more exaggerations than I care to count, including being president of the art club despite every art kid I knew saying he showed up for a meeting once freshman year.

    The admissions game gets so sick once you start playing in the lofty levels of the truly elite universities. The difference between the kids who get in and the kids who don't has nothing to do with talent, and everything to do with having been executing a plan to get in for years.
     
  12. Slambrarian

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    It seems he did not actually do the work to get through a year in Harvard - most of his work was plagiarized.

    <a class="postlink" href="http://www.thecrimson.harvard.edu/article/2010/5/17/wheeler-harvard-wheelers-applications/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;">http://www.thecrimson.harvard.edu/artic ... lications/</a>
     
  13. Decatur Dave

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  14. karbin

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    What's interesting here, at least to me, is that he must have gone through a special transfer process. Provide he applied to transfer for some semester more recent then spring 08, Harvard hasn't been (openly at least) accepting transfer applicants.
    I transferred schools for last fall and Harvard was not accepting applicants and the year before, at least I was told, they didn't accept any.
     
  15. Czechvodkabaron

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    Esther Reed: <a class="postlink" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Esther_Reed" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;">http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Esther_Reed</a>
     
  16. Stealth

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    A few years ago , some dude managed to lie his way into being hired as a Doctor at a surgery in the inner Western Suburbs of Melbourne.

    http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2004/08/23/1093246435003.html?from=storylhs

    Another guy managed to do the same thing for 6 months in Alice Springs in the Northern Territory (Australia)

    http://www.neurologyupdate.com.au/article/Man-posed-as-doctor-for-6-months/512916.aspx

    Now this dude was apparently a qualified doctor , but you would be in better hands if you were treated by one of the fakes. http://www.theage.com.au/news/General/The-scandal-of-Dr-Death/2005/05/27/1117129900672.html
     
  17. KIMaster

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    You're thinking of Marilee Jones, former director of admissions of MIT. I remember this story came out when I was a college freshman, and I couldn't stop bringing it up to my friends, and laughing about it. She had JUST made this incredibly arrogant speech about how "We are MIT, and we conduct ourselves in a completely honest, transparent manner, something many other institutions don't." And a week later, it turns out that the qualifications she used to get hired were all complete bullshit.

    I should also note that she was the one who spearheaded MIT's new admissions policies, whose purpose was to fulfill certain racial quotas.