By Sid Slesicki, Clarion Photo Editor
Picture this. You, the average everyday student who has worked hard for the past 11 years in school, and college application time is coming. By the end of your 11th grade year you found yourself ending the academic year with a good SAT or ACT score, great GPA, and you have a bunch of community service hours and extracurriculars to ramp up that college application even further. You have a good chance to make it into your dream college right? But what happens when you learn that all your hard work was passed up in favor of someone who had enough money to bribe their way in over you?
For the past year student loan debt has been the main topic of consternation for students of all economic backgrounds, but within the last month another college bribery scandal emerged. In the week of March 11th, hundreds of parents with children enrolled in universities such as USC, UCLA, Stanford, and even Yale University are being charged with bribery for conspiring with both the consulting firm Edge College and Career Network and also the nonprofit organization Key Worldwide Foundation. Both groups were found guilty of bribing athletic coaches into “recruiting” students into intercollegiate sports teams and faking college entrance exams in order to secure spots for clients’ children within the college of their choice. Ironically, the Key Foundation was listed as an organization dedicated to helping “underprivileged students” secure an education, according to its Internal Revenue Service filings. After receiving compensation from parents, ECCN would send a false student to take ACT and SAT tests in place of the parent’s child in Houston and West Hollywood, or then use the money to bribe college coaches into allowing applicants a spot on college sports rosters under a “full-ride scholarship”.
The man at the heart of this bribery scheme is former Sacramento resident and college readiness counselor, William “Rick” Singer, who pled guilty to charges of mail fraud, wire fraud, money laundering, conspiracy and racketeering this past week. According to the Sacramento Bee, Singer had received anywhere from $500,000 to $1.2 Million to guarantee students a spot at the college of their choice, and was compensated a staggering $25 Million total to bribe collegiate officials. Among Singer’s charged clients were Full House actress Lori Loughlin, and actress Felicity Huffman.
As a student who devoted a lot of effort and time to paving the road to my post-high school education, it is not only discouraging to see that the elite have found another way to circumvent the regular and fair route to success, but that other students who have worked hard have been snubbed to make room for applicants who bought, not earned their way into college. What this ultimately shows to the everyday high school student aspiring to go to a top-tier college is that the system is flawed, that anyone with low stats can get in if they have the money to afford it. This undoes the promise that America is a free and democratic republic founded on equality and liberty, and peels back the layers to prove once again that yes, America is “free” to those with the money to compensate. Because even if money doesn’t necessarily buy happiness, a bachelor’s degree at Yale is a good alternative.