Gerald and Lily Chow, two parents from Hong Kong, are suing a former Harvard Professor after he allegedly took huge sums of money to help their sons get into the elite college and failed.Mark Zimny, working as the head of IvyAdmit Consulting LLC, was allegedly given $2.2 million after he promised to help their two sons gain admittance to the elite school, according to the Boston Globe. The money was due to be funneled to the school as donations, greasing the wheels without raising the issue of what Zimny allegedly said was the “embedded racism” against Asian donors. The Chow’s also paid for the tutoring of both the sons and the dad, a jewelry magnate, according to the family.
At some point the parents began to question the cost of the process, and the results — neither of their children ended up at Harvard, though they did place at other elite schools.
IvyAdmit’s website is still online, though it is unclear if the firm is still functioning. Zimny’s name is not listed on the “team page”, and other documents suggest he ended his official relationship with Harvard in 2005 — a “RateMyProfessors” page gives him a perfect rating but has no ratings after 2004.
For many parents in Hong Kong and China, sending a child to an elite US college is both a sign of privilege (both Bo Xilai and Xi Jinping’s children have attended Harvard) and a hedge against China’s unpredictable future. It’s also a trend on the rise — according to Helen Gao of the Atlantic, in 2011 157,588 Chinese nationals studied in U.S. colleges, a 23% increase from the year before. However, the system is remarkably different than China, where a good test score — or occasionally, a bribe — is all it takes to get into an elite school.
The case has been in the works since at least 2010, according to court documents, and the Chow’s lawyer’s told the Boston Globe that they thought the case would begin to speed up over fall.
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