How easy is it to forge a Harvard application?
Just ask Adam Wheeler, the Delaware native who duped the Harvard admissions office into admitting him as a transfer student. He was exposed due to a Rhodes Scholar application that contained—you guessed it—plagiarized essays.
But as the Boston Globe reported today, his transfer application was not, in fact, the product of a highly seasoned academic con man—it was riddled with exaggerations and inconsistencies that should have raised a number of red flags.
- Scoring a perfect 5 on 16 different Advanced Placement exams in high school
- Receiving a perfect score on the SAT (he had actually scored a 1220)
- A falsified (glowing) letter of recommendation from Phillips Andover Academy, in which the “director of college counseling” noted Wheeler attended the school for two years. Wheeler, in his forged transcript, said he attended for four
- A report card from MIT, in which he claimed to have garnered straight A’s his first semester. Not only did Wheeler never attend MIT, but the school also does not award letter grades to first-semester students
- A fake phone number and email for his MIT academic adviser (who doesn’t exist), as well as a signed release form permitting Harvard to request his records from Phillips Andover (Harvard failed to contact both Phillips Academy and MIT).
Wheeler, who was charged in May, was sentenced to 10 years’ probation and continued psychotherapy, and was ordered to pay back over $45,000 in grants.
While Harvard spokesman Jeff Neal declined to comment on Wheeler’s case, he did note that that the they are “taking measures to bolster our ability to protect against fraud.’’
They may want to put “actually reading applications” at the top of that list.
—Photo (wallyg)/via Flickr