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While the college consultants certainly increased the number of such students, such students have always existed, at least in the past couple of decades.

I myself can't say that 100% of my extracurricular activities were free from wanting to look good for college applications. My GPA was definitely boosted by my somewhat misplaced desire to get into the best university I could possibly get into, rather than through a pure passion for learning. I totally kissed a teacher's butt in one class because 20% of the grade in that class was "participation", and was entirely based on how much said teacher liked you (she was subsequently let go -- private school). I sold my soul in order to get an A in that class.

And I'm definitely not an isolated case.

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