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College admissions cheating scandal: What happens to the students?



Coaches accused of falsely presenting prospective students as athletes have been fired or put on leave by their universities, and schools are reviewing their enrolled students to confirm no one else was involved.

But it remains to be seen what will happen to the students themselves. According to the criminal affidavit, some of the students were aware of the cheating, but others had no idea

Will students be expelled or allowed to continue attending school?

CNN spoke to two experts in college admissions and higher education law about the potential outcome for students whose parents pulled strings to get them into prestigious universities.

Here's what they had to say.

Christine Helwick, the former general counsel for the California State University, said "there is no right solution" when it comes to the future of these students.

"It will be a case-by-case determination," she said.

If a student is found to have been cheated on a test like the SAT or lied on their application to the school, their fate would depend on where they were in the application process and whether they were already enrolled or had graduated when the cheating was discovered, Helwick said.

If they were in the middle of the application process, the school could easily take them out of consideration. At least two universities have said they will deny the admissions of students if they're found to be connected to the scandal.

If they've already graduated, Helwick said she doubts the school would revoke a degree.

Universities are the hardest decisions for students who are still enrolled, Helwick said, and she said schools should be looking at whether these students were aware of the cheating or whether it was done by their parents behind the student's back. Ed Boland, and the former Yale University admissions officer and the author of his memoir, "The Battle for Room 31

4," agreed and said a school's dean of students would probably launch an investigation to investigate whether the student was aware of the cheating – and if so, whether the student was a complicit in the process.

Those who knew should face expulsion, expert says

According to the criminal affidavit, not all students were aware of the cheating arranged by their parents. Currently, no students are charged with the scandal

Two students who said the affidavit were the daughters of Elizabeth and Manuel Henriquez, who are accused of paying hundreds of thousands of dollars and favors as part of the scam. The affidavit says their daughters have been actively involved. CNN has reached out to Henriquezes for comment

According to the affidavit, and the proctor, who was paid to sit by Henriquezes' oldest daughter's side and provide answers during the exam, "gloated" with her and her mother " about the fact that they had cheated and gotten away with it. "

 Stanford students file class-action lawsuit over college admissions scandal

complicity in cheating, Boland said such behavior warrants "immediate expulsion," adding universities need to show everyone they will not tolerate scamming the admissions process.

"This scandal is undermining the public's belief in this process," he said, "and schools have to act firmly and swiftly to show the public that they are as alarmed as the public is."

Asked if it was believable that some students did not know about the cheating, Boland said he thought it was. If fewer people were in the process, he said, it would be easier to control.

For example, according to the affidavit, one student who had been admitted to the University of Southern California as a track athlete had no idea about the arrangement and was surprised when his adviser at orientation asked him about track.

Boland also pointed out that many students would not want to "benefit from this despite their parents' desires."

Helwick did not necessarily agree, pointing out that the alleged scam involved cheating on SATs or ACTs, or being presented as a prospective athlete for a team they had no intention of playing on.

"It's hard to imagine that a student would not be knowledgeable about either of those," she said.

Could they get a second chance?

Both Helwick and Boland indicated the students could have a chance at redemption, depending on their case.

Some schools might be willing to look at whether the students in question had so far proven if they could stand at the institution on their own merits, Helwick said, to decide if they would be allowed to stay.

"How far have they progressed?" she asked. "Have they demonstrated that they really were able to perform at a level of someone who got in under normal circumstances?"

 What we know so far in college admissions cheating scandal

A student could otherwise be asked to leaving the university and attending another institution to prove their academic merit on their own, Boland said, which is "a very common practice," often for a student who might have failed or partitioned too much and did not take their education seriously enough .

And, Helwick said, "community colleges are available for all kinds of people."

CNN's Melanie Schuman and Mark Morales have contributed to this report


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