This morning, I woke up with my phone buzzing with notifications from the Los Angeles Times, CNN and, of course, Twitter. U.S. federal prosecutors have indicted more than 50 people, including Hollywood actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman, in a $25 million college admissions cheating scheme. The scheme, which includes cases dating back to 2011, is the largest college admittance scam ever charged by the U.S. Department of Justice, according to Andrew Lelling, the U.S. attorney for the District of Massachusetts.
My own school was one of the “elite colleges” named as a victim of the scam.
I’m a sophomore at University of Southern California. I remember receiving my acceptance package in April 2017 after months of anxiety and uncertainty. But soon this anticipation was replaced by a new dread: tuition. My college career thus far has included countless scholarship applications to help my family pay tuition.
At USC, wealth is often on display. Students flaunt their Gucci slides and Balenciaga sweatshirts. Sports cars are lined up on campus parking lots. My fellow students’ conspicuous consumption is a daily reminder of the closely intertwined relationship between wealth and fancy colleges.
The elaborate cheating scam, code-named “Operation Varsity Blues,” involved bribery from wealthy parents who paid thousands of dollars to have their children admitted to elite universities, including Yale, University of Southern California, Stanford, and Georgetown. Test administrators, athletic coaches, and other university administrators were also charged in the scam.
Social media has exploded with shock and frustration.
The scandal has launched a vigorous online conversation about wealth, nepotism, and ethics in higher education admissions.
Students currently attending the targeted universities expressed their own frustration that the scam may damage the reputation of these schools.
Many students, like myself, feel pressure to now prove ourselves as qualified, hardworking students deserving of our spots at these institutions.
Attorney Andrew Lelling
“The parents charged today, despite already being able to give their children every legitimate advantage in the college admissions game, instead chose to corrupt and illegally manipulate the system for their benefit,”