Admissions Scandal Shocks the Nation


Photo Courtesy of The Daily Beast.

Over the last few weeks, a scandal like none before has rocked the world of higher education. Over 50 people, including some famous celebrities, were charged by the FBI with fraud after they participated in a scheme to bribe university officials into accepting their children, who did not meet the qualifications for admission.

The scheme was run by a college counselor in California named Rick Singer, and apparently this fraudulent operation had been going on since at least 2011. Singer would use this money to bribe officials of college entrance exams in order to allow cheating on the exams. Sometimes another person would take the exam for that student, or the student would be allowed to take the exam in a separate room with extra time or with an official who would then falsify the test to assure a higher score.

Another method used by Singer was to bribe coaches and administrators at the universities in order to have a student “recruited” as a student athlete. The catch was that most of these students had never even participated in the sport they were supposedly a top tier collegiate recruit for. One of the most high-profile people caught in this scandal was actress Lori Loughlin of “Full House” fame. Loughlin paid Singer $500,000 for him to secure her daughters’ admissions to the University of Southern California. The girls were recruited as members of the crew team, but neither had ever participated in crew.

The money paid by the parents was often disguised as a “charitable donation,” which also gave the families another benefit of being able to write off the bribe as a tax deduction.

Universities that were named in the charges included Yale, Stanford, Georgetown University, the University of Texas, the University of Southern California and UCLA. Administrators and coaches from these universities were named as participants in the scheme, including Yale’s former women’s soccer coach and Georgetown’s former head tennis coach. On Wednesday, the former head basketball coach from the University of San Diego was named in the cheating scandal as well.

It is no secret that many spots in a university could be seen as up for sale. Many universities have policies where students are benefited if they are a “legacy” student and a parent or sibling has attended the university. There are also often provisions made for students of faculty and staff members at universities, often allowing these students to be admitted to school and attend for a lower cost. Usually, these policies are seen as standard and allowed to continue without controversy.

However, according to the FBI, this scandal is a completely different matter. Predictably, the idea that an under-qualified student could “take” a spot from a qualified student solely because their parents paid for them to cheat their way in does not sit well with many current and prospective university students.

Most of the schools that were named in the case claim to be prestigious centers of learning, with high standards for admission. The idea that a student could be admitted without meeting those standards raises questions about all universities that claim to have high admission standards.

The UNews has reached out to SLU’s admissions office for comment and is planning on updating this story in our online edition with their answers and commentary, which we hope will help answer SLU students’ questions about their own admissions process.

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