I haven’t seen it, and I don’t plan to. Reading about it is enough. I’m talking about the upcoming 60 Minutes interview with Sam Eshaghoff, the Long Island teenager who took several SAT and ACT exams for other students in exchange for $2,500 a pop—cash. The program will air this Sunday.
It seems that Mr. Eshaghoff, currently a student at Emory University, was one mighty good test-taker. (Still, one can’t help but wonder what went wrong that he couldn’t muster one of those over-the-top scores for himself that would have launched him straight into Harvard or Princeton.) From Mr. Eshaghoff’s point of view, taking college entrance exams for other students didn’t constitute cheating, or even present any ethical problems. His only shame, he says, was the attention his arrest brought his family. Mostly, he’s peeved at what a “piece of cake” it was—and still is, according to him—for a person to walk in and take the SAT under an assumed name.
Instead of seeing his actions as an ethical violation, Mr. Eshaghoff considered himself a kind of public servant akin to Robin Hood, riding to the rescue to take from the rich (as in his rich mind) and give to the poor (as in the lesser minds of the mediocre students who approached him to take the exam for them). “I mean, a kid who has a horrible grade-point average, who no matter how much he studies is gonna totally bomb this test, by giving him an amazing score, I totally give him this…new lease on life.” Wow. You have to admit the guy sure can speak well.
But our young Robin Hood has another side as well—the side leading him to refer to the many students who paid him money to take college entrance tests for them as his “clientele.” Whenever he wasn’t using his bow and arrow to save average students from their miserable fate of not getting into the party school of their choice, he was a rising CEO running a bustling business.
I love the part where the young Emory college boy, now honored by this 60 Minutes interview, waves aside any suggestion that his activities might have led to some deserving students not getting into the school of their choice. “I feel confident defending the fact that [my clients] getting into the schools that they ended up getting into didn’t really affect other people.”
Let me help Mr. Eshaghoff out here a little. There’s a difference between a fact and an opinion. Better yet, let me help out the young man with his logic. There are limited college spots in any given college; His “clients” were accepted by some colleges, presumably at least in part due to their scores; this leads us to the rational conclusion that his “clients” no doubt squeezed out at least some other applicants. I guess the college entrance exams have abandoned any questions to do with logic.
Mr. Eshaghoff apparently plans to accept a plea deal that will leave him free to pursue his studies at Emory without having to drag around one of those pesky felony records for the rest of his life. He’ll be paying back society for his little bout with cheating—oops, I mean for his good business sense, coupled with his devotion to those less fortunate than he is—not with jail time, but by counseling low-income students trying to prepare for college entrance exams. (While he’s at it, our young entrepreneur might be able to toss in a few general tips on how to make money.)
Mr. Eshaghoff’s lawyer says his client (that’s “client” as in “real client”) “is just like any other teenager. He has a very bright future ahead of him. He has learned a valuable lesson: the importance of being a law-abiding citizen.”
Just what America needs! Another law-abiding citizen who’s experienced in cheating his way to an “earned” income. Why, once our lad graduates from Emory he’ll be ready to head directly to Wall Street.
I wonder if Mr. Eshaghoff encountered any questions on the verbal part of the SAT or ACT that gave him any difficulty. Hmmm. Did he fill in the correct bubble on the question about the meaning of “moral probity,” for example?
I bet my bottom dollar he got that one wrong.