College Admissions Scandal Essay

Excerpt from Essay :


This college admissions scandal essay looks at the facts behind what became known as Operation Varsity Blues to law enforcement officials tasked with bringing to justice the criminal conspiracy headed by William Rick Singer, who accepted bribes in exchange for faking entrance exams, creating phony profiles for students, and bribing university officials to look the other way.  This essay looks at what happened, why, and what the outcome has been.


The operation of William Rick Singer was organized around the objective of rigging the college admissions process (Pascus).  His clients were wealthy elites looking to secure for their children a place among the nation’s top colleges.  Singer had a host of accomplices working with him:  a test taker, Ivy League coaches willing to take a bribe to allow a student to pass herself off as an athlete, racketeers the lot of them:  a test administrator, an athletic director, a head coach—the list went on and on.  In total, as of summer 2019, more than 50 people had been implicated in the scheme—from high-ranking partners on Wall Street to Hollywood actresses to employees of America’s top-ranked universities.  Operation Varsity Blues, as the investigation was known to law enforcement officials, had exposed the underbelly of American higher education and the lengths the rich would go to make sure their kids could get the credentials needed to make the family proud.


Singer used two firms to control the operation.  The first was Key Worldwide Foundation, known as The Key, and the second was The Edge College and Career Network.  While the Feds were only able to round up a few dozen foolhardy parents, Singer confessed to helping more than 700 families take advantage of his services to get their children into top-tier schools (Winter, Burke).  All said and done, Singer was charged with orchestrating a $25 million admissions scheme that started in 2011 and ended when he was arrested in early 2019 in a headline-making bust that sent some of the nation’s most well-connected people running for the shadows.

Among the biggest names to be revealed in the bust were Lori Loughlin and her husband fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, whose daughters’ ways into USC were paid to the tune of half a million dollars (Pascus).  Another big name was Felicity Huffman:  she paid The Key $15,000 to have one of Singer’s accomplices proctor Huffman’s daughter’s SAT test.  While Huffman pled guilty and was sentenced to two weeks in jail, 250 hours of community service, and fined $30,000, her Hollywood peer Lori Loughlin decided to fight the charges.  Her case is still pending as of October 2019.  The irony in this case is that Loughlin’s daughter Olivia Jade was yachting with her friend on the Chairman of USC’s Board of Trustees when Lori was being arrested by the Feds.  How much did the Chair of USC’s Board of Trustees know or suspect?  That information will probably never come to light, but one can reasonably surmise that at that level of power, one does not ask questions when one’s friends say their daughter—known up to that point only for a YouTube channel on which she acted as a makeup Influencer—got admitted to USC.

Considering that Agustin Huneeus Jr., had also bribed USC officials to get his daughter admitted, one should probably start wondering just how rampant this whole scheme truly was and just how much guys like Rick Caruso (the billionaire yacht-owning Chairman of USC’s Board of Trustees) actually knew.  Huneeus, Jr., for example was no small fry himself:  he was “owner of a family wine vineyard in Napa Valley” and was “accused of participating in both the college entrance cheating scheme and the college recruitment scheme for his daughter, that including bribing USC senior associate athletic director Donna Heinel and Jovan Vavic, the USC…

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…as prosecutors have been concerned, the students did not know their scores were being faked.  It was a deal between parents and Singer.  Singer would then use the money to bribe people like Rudy Meredith to agree that the student should have an athletic scholarship.  Over the course of four years, Meredith took nearly a million dollars in bribe money from Singer.  Yale was full of fake soccer players, needless to say.  And all that time, nobody ever batted an eye or told a world about it to the police.

No one, that is, until Morrie Tobin found himself cornered because of a totally unrelated securities fraud charge.

Tobin had arranged with Meredith to pay nearly half a million in bribe money to get his daughter on Meredith’s soccer team so that she could be admitted to Yale.  This is what Tobin ended up confessing to the Feds so that they would go easier on him for his pump-and-dump scheme.  The Feds put a wire on Tobin and sent him off to meet Meredith in a hotel room where Tobin was supposed to get Meredith on the tape agreeing to the final terms of the deal.  As the Los Angeles Times reported:  “During the meeting, the men finalized the bribe at $450,000, according to court records. Tobin gave Meredith $2,000 in cash toward his balance and the coach told Tobin of a bank account where he wanted the remaining money to be sent” (Rubin, Ormseth, Winton).  That set off a cascade of arrests, confessions, more ratting, and eventually the all-out raid that lit the fuse on this firecracker of a scandal.


This college admissions scandal essay shows that when it comes to morals and ethics, the wealthy class is no different from the criminal class in terms of using money, positions of power and influence to get what they want.  That so much of this happened…

Sources Used in Document:

Works Cited

Armstrong, Robert.  “How Much Meritocracy Can We Take?” Financial Times, March 29, 2019.

Pascus, Brian. “Every Charge AND Accusation Facing the 33 Parents in the College Admissions Scandal.”  CBS News, June 3, 2019.

Rubin, Joel; Matthew Ormseth and Richard Winton.  “Must Reads: The bizarre story of the L.A. dad who exposed the college admissions scandal.” Los Angeles Times, March 31, 2019.

Winter, Tom and Minyvonne Burke. “College cheating ringleader says he helped more than 750 families with admissions scheme.”  NBC News, March 13, 2019.

Yahr, Emily.  “The 5 most bonkers scenes from Lifetime’s ‘College Admissions Scandal’ movie.”  The Washington Post, October 13, 2019.

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