Dear Admissions Officers, Deans, Presidents, and other High Muckety-Mucks of the Glorious Realms of Academe:

You have a problem – a serious problem if you are interested in safeguarding the integrity of the colleges and universities that you represent. There is a whole industry (hereafter, “the Industry”) in Asia that is actively seeking to defraud you. Not only does this industry help students cheat their way into your schools by writing or “editing” their essays, bribing teachers to raise student GPAs and contest judges to award prizes, authoring letters of recommendation to be signed by cooperating teachers, and other unsavory things, they also often attempt to take your financial aid offices for tens of thousands of dollars by misrepresenting parent finances. Last week, a parent came into my office and tried to scold me for properly representing her assets. It’s bizarro land over here sometimes. I’m sure you’ve heard the stories: they’re all true.

When SAT scores aren’t ill gotten, often by direct communication between students in “badly” proctored exams (“badly” is in scare quotes because, when this happens, the proctor is often a collaborator and hireling of the Industry, and things are actually going precisely according to plan), they’re the result of students brute force memorizing the answers of a leaked or reused test that the College Board was too cheap or thoughtless to replace. It’s almost like they’re in a volume sales business and are afraid to waste product…like they don’t actually care about the integrity of their test results and only about getting paying asses into cheap uncomfortable seats. I’m sure that’s not the case. Couldn’t be. No way. Not in a million years.

Those super high GPAs you see – those are most often the product of a system of grade substitution baked directly into the crust of certain high schools. Hit me up, I’ll tell you all about it. With documentation too, if that matters. Tragically, there are some brilliant and honest students here. A good number too. But they’re hard to spot in the dross.

The tragic thing is that the admissions system, as its currently configured, is wonderful. Holistic admissions is as gloriously American as apple pie, the freedom of speech, and blacks killing each other on the South Side of Chicago. At least, it would be wonderful if it weren’t so vulnerable. And it is vulnerable, and it is being exploited. If you care, I hope you get in touch. I’m doing everything I can to win hearts and minds to the glories of the humanities and how process should triumph over product, and how education matters more than brand, etc. But, well, we know how well “hearts and minds” went over in this part of the world last time, don’t we? Could certainly use some commitment from the ol’ metropole, if you know what I’m sayin’.  

In 2018, Bedrock reconfigured its counseling service to include a fully auditable and exhaustive record of *all* student and counselor interactions, written and spoken. This includes chat logs, voice recordings, essay comments, and emails. Once our current cohort of students has finished applying, we’ll be happy to supply these records on request. In an industry full of fraud, this record allows us to positively prove the innocence of our students. As a result, we no longer have any need to hide our presence or the association that students have with us, if we ever did. You’ll start seeing us referenced by our students, in their applications, to the extent that we have an impact on their lives. I hope they reference this page.

However, no bones about it: we are necessary. Vietnamese students are not, in general, able to adequately represent the potential they have without significant help and are therefore not able to apply effectively on their own. They are able-bodied young fans of bodybuilding who have never touched a weight and don’t know how to start lifting. Many have never even been asked to express themselves in written form, and let’s not get started on how literature is taught here. Nor are Vietnamese students, in general, well-prepared to attend American colleges and universities. In general, they may pass their classes, but they will not, without the intervention of someone like me, thrive. The dynamics of this are well-documented in the blog section of this website and I hope you’ll take a read. To some extent, the existence of my company and companies like it is a necessary evil. Local high schools can be as bad as they are precisely because my industry (little “i”, not big “I”) can pick up the slack for a good portion of the most talented kids. And thank god we can. But my necessary evil is balanced by the just plain evil that is represented by the Industry. It’s not evil really – it’s not diabolical and I don’t think it intends harm. It’s just completely and utterly amoral. And unless you take proactive steps to protect yourselves (or I’m much more successful than I think I will be), that amorality will leech away whatever virtue remains in your institutions to the great detriment of humankind. Because they are great institutions and they are worth protecting. I hope you’ll give it some thought.

Anyway, I have spit my spite and will sleep soundly.

Fratres ave atque valete, 

Justin Doddridge Shelby

Founder, Director, and High-Muckety Muck #1, BEC LLC

University of Chicago, B.A., Classics 2010 +84 98-828-7211
+84 98-828-7211


Vietnam is a land of vast potential. Nothing underscores this fact more than the talent and intelligence of it's young future leaders. But there's a problem - an obstacle to success for Vietnamese students who wish to compete globally.