The Justice Department on Tuesday released details of the "largest college admissions scam" ever prosecuted by the organization. The DOJ charged 50 people with participating in a multi-million dollar bribery scheme to get their children into big-name universities despite their average resumés.
Among those charged are television stars Lori Loughlin, of "Full House" fame, and Felicity Huffman, known for her role on "Desperate Housewives." After about a year-long investigation dubbed "Operation Varsity Blues," the FBI found that these women, along with many other wealthy parents, had either been bribing college sports coaches to pretend that their child was a recruit, or bribing college entrance exam officials to beef up their child's score after they took the test.
William Singer, a prominent college admissions adviser, headed the scheme. According to officials, Singer collected millions from parents to pay off coaches and testing officials, hiding the money under the guise of a non-profit called the Key Worldwide Foundation.
To those who are wholly unfamiliar with the college admissions process, the scam may come as a huge shock. But for those of use who know a thing or two about the way colleges work, it's not too hard to believe.
Although as Americans we'd love to say that every child is given an equal opportunity, we can all agree this isn't true. A student's socioeconomic status and zip code says a lot about the quality of schooling they're receiving — or rather, the lack of it. But the problem doesn't end after high school.
The average tuition cost of a 4-year public college was $19,189 in 2016. For private schools, this cost reached $39,529. Such costs are unrealistic for most middle-income families, and impossible for those in lower-income brackets.
Moreover, some of the nation's most prestigious schools, including all of those in the Ivy League, are private — meaning the average tuition cost at these schools is even higher than usual.
The result: so-called "top" colleges and universities are the playgrounds of America's wealthy elite. Yale, Georgetown, Stanford — they rely on parents' deep pockets to run business as usual and keep up their glitzy reputations. What this multi-million dollar celebrity scam did was merely expose the mostly unjust, bourgeois culture that already exists within the nation's most popular schools.
Every year, admissions counselors put on a dog and pony show for the families with the biggest net worths, using their enormous prestige to convince parents that they must send their child there, lest they look like the poor beggars of their friend group. And these parents, many of whom are alumni and prominent donors themselves, believe that their child should get a spot in the next graduating class, that they deserve that spot. So when they realize their children are not the bright, shining stars they had always believed them to be, they use their wealth to fix their imperfections. And how could these colleges refuse?
Rich parents have been buying their kids into college since the beginning of time. This story is nothing new. Throw in a multi-million dollar scam and a couple celebrities — that'll make headlines. But we can't forget about the pre-existing education system in this country that keeps the wealthy on top and keeps everyone else grabbing at any chance they can get.