Spivey Consulting Group Statement on College Admissions Scandal

I am writing to address the cheating scandal in undergraduate admissions. At the start of my academic career, I taught business ethics at the University of Alabama. In that course, we spent the vast amount of time talking about different ethical imperatives: what is morally and ethically important to people and to societies and why. But at the end of the class I added one more element: we case studied companies and people who cheated. I wanted students to see that even if they possessed any incentive to consider cheating (rationalization, incidentally, is the first thing people do when they go down that road, and it can be very powerful), it wouldn't pay off in the long run. There is data behind this assertion, and I also believe it to my core. Whatever short-term gains they would receive would be devastated by the long-term consequences — not just to the immediate actors themselves but to those around them.

Along those lines, there are two articles among the countless more I hope you take a second to read that address this issue. They articulate the depth of concern over these cheating scandals in more depth than I can.

Chicago Tribune, “What I want high school seniors to hear loud and clear, in the wake of the celebrity college cheating scandal

The Atlantic, “Kids Are the Victims of the Elite-College Obsession”

Heidi Stevens, the author of the first article, is absolutely right: “College doesn’t define you. Colleges shapes you.”

No law school defines you. They simply prepare and position you.

Societal pressures are difficult for any of us to individually fight, but the fight starts with us. In this matter, it starts very much with what this firm does. As a firm, we have turned down many clients — mostly those whom we didn't think we could help — but also individuals who we believed would act unethically in their law school applications. We would go out of business before we would ever violate our principles against cheating. If we can do anything to help prevent incidents like these going forward, we welcome your ideas at info@spiveyconsulting.com.


Mike Spivey, on behalf of everyone at The Spivey Consulting Group