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Will Churchill hackers get into college?

We learned today that a group of students at Winston Churchill High School in Potomac, one of the nation's top college preparatories, hacked into the system to raise their grades. Classmates said they did it to get into better colleges.

When the dust settles, will any college have them?

I would love to hear your comments.

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By Daniel de Vise  |  January 29, 2010; 9:37 AM ET
Categories:  Admissions , Crime  | Tags: College admissions, ethics  
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Yes. They can all apply to Harvard under the Ted Kennedy rule.

Posted by: OWNTF | January 29, 2010 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Given the enormous competition for a limited number of spaces, why shouldn't college prefer kids who played by the rules?

Posted by: fmjk | January 29, 2010 3:37 PM | Report abuse

I write the "Ask the Dean" column for College Confidential. The issue I'm asked about the most (by far) is the admissions impact on students who are suspended or expelled by their high schools. (Clearly, there's a lot of it going around!) My answer: Typically, admission officials can be forgiving when the infraction in question falls under the "follies of youth" rubric (smoking in the bathroom, sharing a beer beneath the bleachers ...). But offenses like this one, or any other violation that casts aspersion on the perpetrator's character, are usually deal-breakers at selective colleges.

Posted by: SallyRubenstone | January 29, 2010 5:38 PM | Report abuse

What ethics have these students learned in MCPS?
They are attending a school where they are being charged to go to public school classes in violation of the state Constitution. (Have been charged for years and the practice continues.)
What ethics have been modeled for them by MCPS administrators?

Even the Washington Post endorsed the practice of charging students for their constitutionally guaranteed free public education. And, the Washington Post ignored the Attorney General's opinions on this issue. The Editorial was called "The Price of Learning" and made no mention of the law being broken by this practice.

What lessons have these students learned? Have they learned to respect laws and ethics, or to flount them?

Posted by: jzsartucci | January 29, 2010 6:00 PM | Report abuse

There are really at least three groups of students - those that hacked the system, those who might not have done the hacking but might be complicit in having their grades changed, and the students from the school who were not at all involved.

Those not involved really don't need to worry - any questions raised can easily be resolved by the school confirming their official grades.

For those who did the hacking and those who had their grades changed, the first question is what kind of punishment, if any, will be levied. Secondly, how and whether the school will report that information to colleges and universities.

Students who are expelled, and who as a result do not graduate from high school this year, will likely be denied admission or have their admission revoked.

For those that may be suspended or some other level of punishment, or who are not punished, some institutions will decide to keep these students admitted even knowing that they committed infractions - that decision is very particular to each college, although as another poster wrote, the most selective institutions and those with the strongest honor codes, are likely to deny them (or revoke their admission if already awarded).

Posted by: aflagel1 | January 30, 2010 5:01 PM | Report abuse

Let me get this straight - a cash strapped public school system charges fees to enhance learning and education. Somehow, this justifies and excuses students hacking into a computer system and changing their grades. Blatantly cheating and breaking laws in a purely selfish act. There is no comparison. Seems like another instance of a parent making excuses for a why a child should not be responsible for his/her actions instead of facing the serious consequences of a serious crime.

Posted by: juleswag | January 30, 2010 5:07 PM | Report abuse

@juleswag "Blatantly cheating and breaking laws in a purely selfish act. There is no comparison."
It only matters when students do it? Not adults?
So selling the name on the footbal stadium for $10,000 was OK? It wasn't permitted by the Board of Education, but who cares?
Charging students to attend public school in violation of the Maryland Constitutional right is OK? Withholding textbooks is OK? This is the behavior that is being modeled.

What "cash strapped" school system are you talking about? Surely, not MCPS? They aren't cash strapped. Their budget has doubled in the last 10 years from $1 billion to over $2 billion, each year increasing. Even though enrollment numbers have barely changed. MCPS administrators are taking themselves out to lunch and dinner all the time. That's not "cash strapped".

Posted by: jzsartucci | February 1, 2010 8:59 AM | Report abuse

They may not get into elite universities. But I can think of a few IT firms and defense contracors that would probably want to hire them....

Posted by: professor70 | February 1, 2010 9:03 AM | Report abuse

Hmmm. If a student from another Montgomery County "W" school is convicted of armed robbery and can get into a major university why not....??? This act must be taken seriously by parents and the County. My concern would be that they also corrupted other students data as well. There is also concern when a county official states that teachers should change their passwords more often. Why? The County's IT department should have security policies in place mandating periodic changes.

Posted by: kingsview | February 1, 2010 9:08 AM | Report abuse

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