The Admissions Scandal


Leila Faler, Assistant Editor

We were all aghast at the breaking news of wealthy parents paying bucket loads of money for their already privileged children to gain acceptance into the college of their choice, illegally. The most famous of the convicted was Lori Loughlin, who is most notably known as Aunt Becky on the show “Full House”. According to an NBC News report, “Loughlin and her fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, allegedly agreed to pay bribes totaling $500,000 to bolster the chances for their two daughters, Olivia Jade, and Isabella Giannulli, to get admitted to the University of Southern California.” These parents, among dozens of others, participated in a scam that victimized notable universities such as Yale, USC, and UCLA.


Based on an FBI investigation known as “Operation Varsity Blues”, details emerged regarding the scheme these wealthy parents participated in. The leader of the pack was Rick Singer, who made up to $25 million consulting parents on how to get their children into coveted universities, while laundering money through a non-profit organization. The scam focused on getting their children in, sometimes through bribing athletic directors to recruit the student even if they never played the sport. Some achieved this by Photoshopping faces of their child on stock photos.

In other cases, students utilized false identification during SAT testing, and students cheated on their entrance exams. Rick Singer had advised his clients to apply to receive extended time on the SAT or ACT by simulating arrangements. Extended time is generally given out to those with a disability or special needs. This is an abuse of a program designated for those that truly need it. They did this all by spending large amounts of money and paying con-artists to do their dirty work.

Sources say Olivia Jade, daughter of Lori Loughlin, did not even want to attend USC. Despite this seemingly contradictory situation, the Chicago Tribune reported that Jade was an opportunist and shamelessly promoted products as an Instagram influencer—even going to lengths of bad-mouthing her college experience on social media.“It’s so hard to try in school when you don’t care about anything you’re learning,” she posted. This brings me to my point: That’s a kick in the face to a persistent student who worked hard on their admissions essay and didn’t get into USC because someone who paid their way in, like Olivia Jade, took the coveted spot. Those who wholeheartedly put their honest time and effort into admissions deserve a shot, especially at a time when the USC acceptance rate is declining. As reported by the Chicago Tribune, only 13 percent of students who applied to USC got accepted in 2018 as “a landslide of outstanding applications (raised) the bar for admits,” it said on its website.

The New York Times reported that Vassili Thomadakis, a former United States attorney assistant in the district of Massachusetts, believes that Rick Singer is almost certainly going to prison, regardless of his cooperation with the investigation.

But does this do justice to the thousands of students who probably are victims of the scam? His jail time might feel good temporarily, but this is a larger issue about the wealthy having access to proper education by simply paying their way into elite universities, and everyday hardworking Americans struggling to pay tuition and having to jump a million more hoops than these entitled families who scam their way into colleges.

Take a minute to let that sink in– rich parents scheming so their underachieving children, who most likely have never worked a day in their life, get to attend universities with little effort. Many of us have to work double by maintaining perfect grades, applying to multiple scholarships, and taking out student loans to get into these same colleges. Personally, I don’t think that sounds very moral. Here’s why: We at Konawaena High, including every other public school on the Hawaiian islands, are forced to take the cold, hard route in life. This means working day in and day out to make ends meet, maintaining excellent grades, and contributing to help our families stay afloat in this economy. Based on this story, I’m basically being told that children who have never had to endure this kind of hardship or work for what they want are getting into colleges with zero effort–colleges that we should have an equal right to, but clearly do not because we don’t have the money.

As someone who comes from a low-income family, I know the challenges intimately. I am going to be forced through hardships to even get into a higher education institution when those rich children get help from mommy and daddy. In regards to my fate, no elaborate scheme can get me what I want. Every ounce of blood, sweat and tears has to go into my admission, if admitted at all. Personally, I do not think that the amount of money one possesses should ever give someone else an advantage over someone else who was not born into wealth when it comes to academic achievement.

Wealth should not leverage acceptance into an educational program over someone who has worked every day of their life to get where they are. I refuse to give up my seat for someone who has never stood a day in their life.



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