Hacking Harvard, by Robin Wasserman, is a very unrealistic story about something all of us seniors surely know: the college admissions system. Three extremely intelligent teens (Eric, Max, and Schwarz) have decided to take on what they believe to be the ultimate challenge. This challenge is getting an average, run of the mill guy into Harvard. While this may seem like a long shot, these three teens believe it to be possible and want to prove their point, which is that "there's something wrong with the admissions system" (48) and "to prove it's not perfect" (48).
They choose Clay Porter, a below-average student who has no plans of going to college, as their subject. Though he was at first reluctant, he soon agrees to help them when money is put into the picture. With Clay, they help him with various college admission tasks that they believe should trick Harvard into letting him in.
One admissions procedure they "guide" him with is taking the SAT test. While many students longing to get into Harvard study for days on end to get perfect scores on the test, Clay does not study at all. Instead, Eric and the other two guys help Clay by cheating the system. They install a microscopic camera into Clay's glasses, which transmits the questions Clay is seeing infront of him to a television screen. They then are able to tell him all of the answers through a microphone which is synced to an earpiece Clay is wearing. All goes well, until all of these complex electronics decide to stop working. The teens are then forced to use their brains, and figure out that they can use the light reflected from the pond next to the classroom window to highlight the correct answers onto Clay's test (this part makes no sense to me).
All of their efforts are about to pay off when they start to think about how this will affect other people attempting to get into Harvard. Harvard does not let in many applicants as is, and if Clay, someone who does not deserve to go there, gets in over someone who does want to go there, that would not be right. They are potentially taking the spot of someone who has worked all their high school career to get into Harvard.
In the end, they don't care about the fact that they are taking someone's spot and submit Clay's application to Harvard to be potentially admitted, waitlisted, or denied.
1. The characters in this story believe they played a prank on Harvard. Do you consider what they did a prank, or do you believe what they did broke the law?
2. Clay potential could be taking someone who really wants to go to Harvard spot, though people helped him cheat his way in. In the end, he actually does get in and does go. Do you believe he should ever fess up for cheating his way in?