The path to success in higher education

National scandal in admissions to elite colleges

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With college admissions more competitive than ever, Walsh Jesuit seniors have worked tirelessly to craft the ideal application. This includes maintaining a high GPA, participating in a variety of extracurriculars,  and writing personal essays. However, for certain applicants across the nation, the applications simply required tens of thousands of dollars in bribes.

Hannah Feuer
Recent national headlines draw attention to the scandalous means some have used to gain admission to their colleges of choice.

A $25 million college admissions scandal revealed how wealthy families ensured their children’s acceptance into elite colleges. The scandal, the largest ever prosecuted by the Department of Justice, uncovered a web of bribery and scams involving over fifty individuals, all leading back to William Rick Singer, CEO of college counseling agency The Key, NBC reported.

“As founder of The Key, I have spent the past 25 years helping students discover their life passion, and guiding them along with their families through the complex college admissions maze,” stated Singer on The Key’s website. “Using The Key method, our coaches help unlock the full potential of your son or daughter, and set them on a course to excel in life.”

However, The Key was only a front for Singer’s manipulations and the parents’ bribes. The Key Worldwide Foundation, Singer’s charity, accepted bribes under the guise of donations. Some parents paid Singer up to $75,000 to doctor ACT or SAT scores.

“This is a case where [the parents] flaunted their wealth, sparing no expense to cheat the system so they could set their children up for success with the best money can buy,” Joseph Bonavolonta of the FBI Boston Field Office said, according to FOX News.

Others paid between $200,000 and $1.6 million to bribe athletic recruiters to recommend their children for admission. In reality, the applicants had no experience in the recruiting sport and submitted photos were photoshopped. Eric Hyman, a collegiate athletic director for over thirty years, commented on the athletic aspects of the scandal to NBC News.

“Money corrupts,” Hyman stated. “And that’s where we’ve gotten in college athletics.”

After eight years of criminal activity, Singer began feeding information to the FBI about the wealthy families with which he worked. He is pleading guilty to multiple conspiracy and money laundering charges.

[The college admissions scandal] furthers the narrative that…wealthy families get special treatment.”

— Mr. McDermott, College Guidance Dept.

“I am absolutely responsible for [the scam],” Singer said in court. “I put everything in place. I put all the people in place and made the payments directly.”

The scandal includes both high profile schools and individuals. The University of Southern California, Yale, Stanford, and Georgetown University are all involved in the scandal, The New York Times reported. Among the accused parents are “Full House” star Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman from “Desperate Housewives.”

“This case is about the widening corruption of elite college admissions through the steady application of wealth, combined with fraud,” U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts Andrew Lelling told NBC.

Walsh Jesuit college guidance counselor Mr. Patrick McDermott also acknowledges the “pervasive” effect of the fraudulent activities.

“[The college admissions scandal] furthers the narrative that…wealthy families get special treatment,” Mr. McDermott said.

As the case proceeds, prosecutors are fiercely pursuing the potential criminal offenses related to the scam. Multiple universities have fired employees who received bribes and are taking action to investigate currently enrolled students associated with questionable admissions.

“There can be no separate college admission for the wealthy, and I will add there will not be a separate criminal justice system either,” U.S. Attorney Lelling stated.

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