College Admission Scandal Shakes the Nation


Doheny Library

University of Southern California (USC) is one of the major colleges involved in the scandal.

America’s largest college admission scandal has ignited outrage among students across the country.
On Tuesday, March 12, more than 50 people were charged with bribery and fraud for their efforts to secure college admission for their children. An FBI investigation nicknamed “Operation Varsity Blues” uncovered a massive scheme in which affluent parents paid large sums of money to have their children admitted into some of the nation’s most competitive universities, including Yale, Stanford, and Georgetown.
At the heart of the scandal was a man named William Singer, the owner of two companies, called The Edge College & Career Network and The Key Worldwide Foundation, which helped parents cheat their way into schools. Among those accused of paying bribes are several high-profile celebrities and wealthy business leaders. Hollywood actors Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman, known for their roles in Full House and Desperate Housewives, respectively, were both implicated in the scandal. Several athletic coaches at the country’s top universities, including the sailing coach at Stanford, tennis coach at Georgetown, as well as soccer coaches at Yale, USC, and UCLA were also accused of taking bribes and were fired from their positions.
The bribery and cheating occurred in two ways. Some parents cheated the standardized ACT or SAT tests by having their kids receive additional testing time or bribing test administrators to change answers on exams. Huffman allegedly paid $15,000 for her daughter to receive unlimited time during the SAT. Szilveszter Palvolgyi ’19 said, “[If I found out my parents did this for me], on some level I would be very, very grateful, because it would mean that they were doing everything possible to get me into an institution. With that being said, I do think I would withdraw my [application], because I’d feel incredibly ashamed that I would not have the moral values to attend that institution anymore.”
Other parents bribed athletic coaches at target schools to favor their children. Coaches were accused of doctoring images using Photoshop and of faking athletic accomplishments, both of which were used to represent students as top athletic recruits.
The majority of students who were admitted as part of the scheme were have claimed to be unaware of their parents’ illicit actions. Loughlin and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, were accused of paying up to $500,000 to have their daughters Isabella and Olivia Jade designated as USC crew recruits, despite the fact that the girls had never participated in the sport. Brian Wong ’19 said, “[If my parents had bribed a university for me], I would feel betrayed. The fact that they would use immoral means to [get me] into a good college, means they would no longer be role models for me anymore.”
In the wake of the scandal, university students across the nation are disappointed and outraged. Two Stanford students are filing a federal class-action lawsuit on behalf of “qualified” students who have been rejected from eight different universities.
Parents accused in the scandal have been keeping a low profile. Both Huffman and Loughlin have declined to speak to the media. Olivia Jade, daughter of Giannulli and Loughlin, admitted to feeling “very frustrated” with her parents.
Members of the Senior class were disappointed, but not surprised, to hear of the scandal. Albert Zhang ‘19 said, “Honestly, it is not that shocking for me, because it is [a reflection] of the general college admissions atmosphere. People try to do whatever they can to get into good colleges.”
At present, 13 of the originally charged 33 parents have agreed to plead guilty.