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There have long been serious concerns about the fairness and equity of the admissions process to elite universities.

But the sprawling college admissions scandal has exposed serious weaknesses that experts say will result in far-reaching changes.

“This is like Luke Skywalker finding the hole in the Death Star. In this case, they did it, they found a way to beat the system,” said Peter Lake, a professor of higher education law at Stetson University. The charges show “really determined criminal behavior can penetrate the systems we have in place.”

The scheme, which began in 2011, centered on a Newport Beach college placement firm run by William “Rick” Singer. Wealthy parents paid Singer to help their children cheat on college entrance exams and to falsify athletic records of students to enable them to secure admission to elite schools, including UCLA, USC, Stanford, Yale and Georgetown, according to court records.

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