Plagiarists at Penn

Something is in the water at the University of Pennsylvania. It seems that the UPenn student who was accused of embellishing her life’s story — one that allegedly included abuse at the hands of her mother — to land a coveted Rhodes Scholarship (the prestigious scholarship was later stripped) isn’t alone in not being completely forthright. In a juicy story involving the nieces of South Korea’s incoming justice minister (how ironic!), two UPenn students have been accused of submitting plagiarized research papers that ultimately helped them earn admission to the university. Oh no they didn’t! Well, it seems they did. What on earth could they have been thinking?

Two UPenn Students Allegedly Plagiarized Published High School Research Papers

As Jared Mitovich reports for The Daily Pennsylvanian in a piece entitled “Over 4,000 people sign petition calling on Penn to investigate student plagiarism allegations,” “Over 4,000 people have signed a petition calling on Penn Admissions to investigate allegations of plagiarism against two Penn students enrolled in the University’s highly selective seven-year bio-dental program. The petition was started on May 16 by ‘For Justice in College Admissions,’ a group that describes itself as a collection of parents, students, teachers, and researchers focused on addressing injustice in academic research and admissions to highly selective U.S. universities. A 30-page document that is linked in the petition appears to present numerous instances of plagiarism and fabricated data in six research papers and preprints authored by the two students during high school. Some of the publications include additional co-authors. The petition calls on the two siblings at the center of the allegations – rising College sophomore Annabelle Choi and incoming College first year Madeline Choi – to ‘admit their wrongdoings and apologize to the researchers whose work they have plagiarized and published as their own.'”

The Story Reminds Us of Kaavya Viswanathan, a Former IvyWise Student

A Gawker article shined a spotlight on a student who worked with IvyWise founder Kat Cohen. The student plagiarized significant portions of a book.

The whole story reminds us of the case of Kaavya Viswanathan, a student who worked with IvyWise. Oh no we didn’t link to that article entitled “IvyWise founder Katherine Cohen Still Credible. Not!”. Oh yes we did. Oh snap! Hey, it’s sunny outside today. We needed a little shade and, besides, we write about college admissions every day. We need to keep thinks interesting. In any case, IvyWise’s founder, Katherine Cohen, had introduced her student, Viswanathan, to a book publisher at her then-agency, William Morris. The student’s book, How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life, later ended up getting pulled from shelves after its publication when it was determined — amidst much publicity — that sections of the book were plagiarized. Long story short? Why would a student ever risk plagiarizing material? Why would a student even think for a moment they could get away with it? And how could their college counselor not notice it? That’s all for today. Bye, Felicia!


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  • Willa Sherman, MD says:

    I applaud you for exposing this terrible fraud perpetrated on admissions and honest students in their cohort. I hope you would also distance yourselves from any students you helped that were involved in dishonesty but were unaware of yourselves at the time they applied. My son attends an Ivy and many students openly admit they plagiarized their applications, some straight students even say they are gay, believing admissions committees will look more favorably upon them. Many non-Hispanics say they are Hispanic and the list of EC’s is a mountain of BS most of the time. I think this is why people want to see more of an emphasis on the tests, GPA, class rank and then essays. The EC’s and Demographic questions seem ways for the most dishonest to break in the back door. The plagiarism issue is just an added bonus for those crooked kids and their parents to litter their applications with. Elite admissions is a dumpster fire. There are definitely good kids getting in, but oh how many snakes slither through!

  • Shame on Penn! says:

    How is this even POSSIBLE that students who plagiarized their applications are allowed to remain enrolled at Penn? Much like illegal immigration, once you make it into the USA illegally, you are allowed to remain, consequence-free! Well, thanks for setting this same precedent at the university level, Penn!

  • Doris Roberts says:

    Well, maybe Penn doesn’t want to raise a ruckus with the South Korean government? This is short-term gain but long-term pain for Penn. More plagiarists will apply- encouraged by Penn’s blind-eye policy. I am sure if a nice Jewish boy from Jersey did the same, he would probably be expelled. This seems like reverse-racism tbh. Good for Jared for his report- let’s hope he continues his doggedness.

  • Charles Chen says:

    Michael Avenatti- remember him? Penn grad. Just Sentenced to 4 years in Jail. Penn sure knows how to pick em!

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