In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past two months, the 1 percenters are up to their usually shenanigans again, only this time they got caught. It seems that a lot of wealthy families allegedly paid Richard Singer, a college admissions consultant “donations” of $50,000 up to $6.5 million to get their children accepted into elite universities around the country.
Mr. Singer allegedly used these funds to have ringers retake the SAT and ACT tests for the students, bribe college athletic coaches, and in some cases fabricating a student’s non-existent athletic career by photoshopping their face onto an athlete’s bodies and making up sports stats that never happened to gain acceptance on a university’s soccer, volleyball or crew (rowing) teams. It’s just come out that two of the largest “donations” ($1.5 and $6.5 million) were from billionaire Chinese national families wanting to get their child into an American university.
The universities swept up in this scandal include Harvard, Yale, Georgetown, Texas, Stanford, USC and UCLA. Many athletic coaches from these schools have been fired and universities are looking at expelling these students as they signed an admissions form stating the information provided in their applications was “true and correct.” If someone else took your SAT test or you never played a day of organized sports, but were admitted as a recruited soccer player, that don’t pass the smell test. Bye, Felicia!
Much like the Fyre Festival debacle (watch Netflix’s “Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened”) of a few years ago, people love it when trust-fund millennials get scammed. Couldn’t happen to a nicer silver spoon. A couple of the parents caught up in this scandal were Hollywood celebrities, which only fueled the fire of the media storm. Consider the oxymoron that Felicity Huffman’s recent role was that of an uptight FBI agent in Epix’s “Get Shorty” and now she’s agreed to plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud, and may be facing four to 10 months in jail.
Lori Loughlin of “Full House” and “Fuller House” fame, along with her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, are fighting the charges against them, saying they were “duped” into donating $500,000 to Rick Singer. If they don’t cut a deal or avoid conviction, they may be looking at serious jail time.
Back in the day, wealthy people got their children into elite universities the old-fashioned way: they gave a large bribe, errrr, donation to the university. Consider Howard Kushner, the New Jersey real estate developer and father of Jared Kushner (President Trump’s son-in-law) who allegedly pledged a $2.5 million donation right before Jared was accepted to Harvard.
Full disclosure: I told my daughter Molly from a young age that when she graduated high school and turned 18 she had a choice: she could live in a dormitory, barracks or convent — but she was not hanging out on our couch, playing video games and smoking pot for five years while she “figured things out.”
Second disclosure: Molly graduated from UCLA last year. However, she did it the normal way. She took many AP (Advanced Placement) courses while attending Eureka High School and had half of her freshman year of college already completed. She then did a year abroad (that means a foreign country, in case you run for political office) as a Rotary exchange student in Bangkok, Thailand; where she learned her third language. She then did two years at Pasadena City College.
The California Junior Colleges (JCs) are a great way to get two years of your general education completed at a fraction of the cost of a university. Plus throw in the Transfer Admittance Guarantee (TAG), which guarantees admittance upon JC graduation into UC Davis, Irvine, Merced, Riverside, Santa Cruz and Santa Barbara (not Berkeley or UCLA). My daughter applied and was accepted to UCLA.
Even more concerning is the insane cost of college today. My wife and I were talking about when we went to college it cost $200-$300 per semester. I was smart enough to start a 529 College Savings Account the day my daughter was born and by the time she hit college we had most of her education paid for. I do feel sorry for parents today whose kids are brainiacs wanting to head off to college. The typical tuition cost for most of the major universities are $50,000 per year (times four years) plus room and board. That’s around $250,000 per child to get them through college. How much is in your checking account?
Matthew Owen resides in Eureka.