College is hard enough. Attending a college you are unprepared to handle is even worse.
A Louisiana private school that boasts about its ability to send minority students to Ivy League universities like Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, and Yale is now accused of falsifying transcripts to get those students accepted.
T.M. Landry College Prep in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, has been the talk of the talk-show town, with interviews on “Ellen,” “CBS This Morning,” and the “Today” show discussing how many students get into the elite universities. At times, the school brought up the challenges some students faced and the odds they beat to succeed.
But all is not well with Landry. In late November, the New York Times published a report (covered by The Daily Wire) alleging some students who were accepted by elite universities had their transcripts altered and received inaccurate — but glowing — recommendations in order to boost the school’s image.
The flagship story the Times focused on was that of Bryson Sassau, who received a recommendation from Landry’s founder, Tracey Landry, who wrote he was a “bright, energetic, compassionate and genuinely well-rounded” student and son of an abusive alcoholic father. The recommendation also claimed Sassau founded a community service program for the children of alcoholic parents, took four years of honors English, played baseball, and was a “Mathematics Olympiad.”
Sassau was accepted to St. John’s University based on this recommendation. Only this year did he learn what had been written about him, and told the Times it wasn’t true. His father never beat him — and paid child support. He never started the program for children of alcoholic parents, nor did he take the classes he was alleged to have taken. Further, a recommendation from his English teacher referred to another student, meaning they wrote the letters in bulk and just changed the names.
Sassau said students took ACT practice tests over and over again and that once he got to college, this kind of conditioning hurt him.
“If it wasn’t on the ACT, I didn’t know it,” he told the Times.
As a follow-up to the Times story, Ryan Everson with the College Fix contacted Ivy League universities that accepted Landry students and asked them whether they needed to reevaluate their admissions process in the wake of the scandal.
“The College Fix reached out to eight prestigious universities that have accepted Landry graduates to ask about their application vetting processes. None were willing to comment. At Yale, an individual named Isaac responded to The Fix’s query to the admissions office and said: ‘Unfortunately, I’m not able to speak on behalf of the admissions office for your publication.’ It is unclear what role this individual plays in Yale’s admissions. Further queries were not returned,” Everson wrote.
Princeton spokesman Mike Hotchkiss at least commented on the scandal, telling the Fix: “We are very troubled by the report and the allegations of fraud. First and foremost, we are concerned for the affected students and their families. We remain committed to attracting and supporting talented students, including students from groups that have been underrepresented in higher education and denied the opportunities they need to flourish. Every one of our students is a valued member of our community.”
Brown, Cornell, Dartmouth, Stanford, and Wesleyan didn’t respond to the Fix’s questions.
In addition to falsifying grades and lying about extracurriculars, officials at Landry were also accused of physically harming students. The school still mentions its 100% graduation rate.