Hollywood actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman are among 50 people charged in a $25 million college entrance exam cheating scheme, according to court documents unsealed in Boston on Tuesday.It's outrageous. You usually have to build a dormitory to get your kid into one of those places.
The alleged scam focused on getting students admitted to elite universities as recruited athletes, regardless of their athletic abilities, and helping potential students cheat on their college exams, according to the indictment.
Authorities said the FBI investigation, code-named Operation Varsity Blues, uncovered a network of wealthy parents who paid thousands of dollars to a California man who boosted their children's chances of gaining entrance into elite colleges, such as Yale and Stanford, by paying people to take tests for their children, bribing test administrators to allow that to happen, and bribing college coaches to identify the applicants as athletes.
A year ago, we were approaching the endgame of this college admissions fandango. Fearless Maria had applications into a number of universities, including at least one of the elite schools named in this scandal. We would never be able to prove it, but it's possible that some kid, somewhere, got a slot in Coveted East Coast University that Maria might have received otherwise, were it not for this particular scam. Having said that, she is now attending a good university with a similar academic approach and rigor, only with a less prestigious zip code. And she's having a wonderful experience there.
The issue involved is straight out of Economics 101 -- scarcity. About 23,000 students applied to Coveted East Coast University last year, but only 3000 were admitted. The prize isn't the education, or the experience, or even the sheepskin credential you get at the end. The prize is access to the alumni network, which is the real leg up. If you can find your way into Coveted East Coast University, you might be classmates with a future senator or even President. You won't necessarily know it, but once you're in, it's a good bet. And once you are in, you usually get to stay, even if you like to party and don't necessarily crack the books that much. It's a Golden Ticket.
What's most interesting to me is that the universities aren't in the crosshairs about this, as the linked article from NBC News makes clear:
Lelling stressed that the colleges themselves are not targets of the investigation, which is ongoing. No students were charged, and authorities said in many cases they were kept in the dark about the alleged scam.I don't believe this. At a minimum, the colleges looked the other way. But it's more splashy to indict an actress than an assistant director of admissions. And the corruption and moral rot in our higher education system runs far deeper than a few B list celebrities trying to buy their daughters into Coveted West Coast University. But that's another post.