Sloppy Harvard

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The strange saga of Adam Wheeler (right), the Delaware student who lied his way into some of America’s fanciest institutions, continues.

It turns out he may not have been that sophisticated a con man after all, so much as he was just dealing with some sloppy people, people who didn’t look too closely at his background and the claims he made in his applications. Those people, however, made up the admissions department at Harvard College. According to an article by Tracy Jan in the Boston Globe:

…Wheeler, portrayed upon his arrest for fraud as a con artist whose brilliant forgeries landed him a coveted spot at Harvard, won over the admissions committee with an application rife with inconsistencies and an inscrutable personal essay, despite fake faculty recommendations that repeatedly praised his lucid writing.

A gushing letter of recommendation, purportedly from the director of college counseling at Phillips Academy, said Wheeler enrolled in the prestigious Andover prep school as a junior. The accompanying transcript, though, indicated he attended for four years.

In hindsight, there were other red flags that raise questions as to how closely Harvard’s staff scrutinized Wheeler’s application, and whether the failure to catch simple errors and too-good-to-be-true claims played a greater role in Wheeler’s admission than his own ingenuity.A grade report from the College Board, which Wheeler has admitted faking, shows he earned the highest marks on 16 advanced-placement exams, an improbable feat. The majority of students taking AP exams take only one or two during their four years of high school, according to the College Board. Virtually none take 14 or more.

Neither Harvard nor Wheeler would specifically comment on Wheeler’s original application, which was riddled with other errors and assertions of highly unlikely accomplishments. [Image via]

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer