Easy As Advantages, Bribery, Cheating: College Admissions Scandal Generates Scrutiny, Rage

By Max Miracle, News Editor

For many students, applying to college is a difficult rite of passage. It is submitting standardized test scores, writing seemingly endless essays, and waiting months for acceptance and rejection letters. For some, however, college application looks more like paying off coaches and faking disabilities.

Thirty-three wealthy parents, including actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman of “Fuller House” and “Desperate Housewives,” respectively, were charged in the Department of Justice’s largest college admissions cheating case ever. These parents, along with several college coaches and standardized test officials, stand accused of using fraud, deceit, and bribery to place affluent children at elite universities such as Yale and Stanford.

The arrests, which come amid college application season, have drawn attention to the role wealth and power play in who gets into what school. “This is an example of the privileged giving their children an unfair advantage,” said Joshua Lee (10).

Parents purportedly paid hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars for the cheating, which was orchestrated by admissions consultant William Singer. Mr. Singer deployed elaborate tactics to place his clients’ children at their school of choice, often without the students’ knowledge.

In some cases, Mr. Singer allegedly bribed college coaches, including Georgetown’s tennis coach, to recommend the acceptance of unqualified athletes. He regularly created fake, photoshopped profiles for these faux-athletes, who often did not even play the sport they were recruited for. “I am heartbroken,” said Student Activities Director Jeanne Kelly. “It puts a cloud over college admissions and college sports.”

Mr. Singer is also accused of helping students cheat standardized tests such as the SAT and the ACT. He allegedly used corrupt test officials that gave out answers, fixed mistakes, and even allowed adult experts to take the test instead of children.

In order to ensure their children tested in locations involved with the scheme, parents sometimes obtained medical documentation showing their offspring had mental disabilities and needed special testing circumstances.  “It’s a slap in the face to all the people who actually suffer from disabilities,” said Nicholas Bacon (10).

The revelation of this scheme has generated nationwide outrage and has surfaced long-standing concerns about the edge well-to-do students have while applying for college. “Rich kids have always been able to get the best education, the best test prep, and the best athletic trainers,” said Charlie Jacoby (11). “They’ve always had an advantage.”

Much of the anger has arisen from the fact that cheating students might have taken away spots from deserving applicants.

“There are people who work extremely hard to achieve those positions,” said Ms. Kelly. “People were denied opportunities.”