It hardly seems shocking that the extremely wealthy are scamming their children into college. Even without cheating, children born into wealthy families already have large advantages over poorer students. More money means more prep classes, more chances to take standardized tests, more college trips, more connections, and often more parental support. Families living from paycheck to paycheck often work more hours and don't have the same time and money to dedicate to their children's future. First generation college students have to figure out the application process alone. Now, it seems, the wealthy have taken their advantages a step further.
The investigation of the college admissions scam went by the name "Operation Varsity Blues" and is being called the largest college admissions scam to ever be prosecuted. As of now, fifty people are being charged, from university coaches to SAT/ACT proctors and administrators, to college administrators and to thirty-three wealthy parents. These parents paid from $200,000 to $6.5 million just to get their kids into school. To me, this scam seems fairly unsurprising, but when put into perspective, the scandal is heartbreaking. Every wealthy parent who scammed their child into a top university took away the chance of attendance away from a hardworking, honest student. Every college or education administrator who agreed to take the money turned college education into a consumer product and made it a luxury that (like almost everything) is more accessible to the privileged members of our society.
Lori Loughlin, known for her role in Full House, was one of the parents charged in the investigation. Her daughter, Olivia Jade, posted to her millions of social media followers that she didn't know how much of school she was actually going to attend but that she does want the "experience of like game days and partying." Lori Loughlin and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli are being accused of having paid $500,000 to ensure their daughters' spots at the University of Southern California. The school labeled the girls as crew recruits despite their complete lack of experience with the sport.
Lori Loughlin is one among many wealthy parents to cheat their children into college. The memes and tweets about the scam are funny, but the issue is completely serious. What does it mean about the value of an education if it can be bought? Even outside the scandal, the costs to receive an education at top rate universities have soared higher than they ever have. Student debt is unpayable, and in many ways, it seems that university education has become a capitalist opportunity to produce revenue. Many schools are seen as a brand name for a resume, and the pressure is on preparation for life careers rather than on life enrichment through learning. With prices so high that disadvantaged students can't even afford their dream school it only makes sense that getting into college is another opportunity that is more accessible to the rich. Within this corrupted context, we need to attempt to bring back value and respectability to the education system before it's too late.