It may seem like a distant memory now, but it wasn’t too long ago that we were stressing over the SATs, editing our college essays and anxiously submitting college applications. The college acceptance process is long and involved, but on March 12, the FBI revealed that over 40 wealthy families, including those of actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Hoffman, had scammed and bribed their way into some of the country’s top universities.
The scam was led by Rick Singer, who reportedly explained to his influential clients that there are three ways into a college: the front door (an honest application,) the back door (an enormous donation to the school) and the side door (his work). One way Singer helped parents cheat their way into college was through rigged SAT tests.
In some cases, parents would pay for someone else to take their child’s SAT. Other parents had their children marked as having nonexistent learning disabilities so they could have unrestricted time in a private room. Additionally, some proctors were bribed into “correcting” students’ answers. When the student would leave, the proctor would go back and change their answers to improve their score.
Lori Loughlin, known as Aunt Becky on “Full House,” had a more elaborate plan with Singer. She paid $500,000 for her daughters to be accepted into University of Southern California (USC) as crew recruits, despite the fact that neither of them participated in the sport even at a recreational level. When the scheme worked for her older daughter, a high school guidance counselor questioned the family on why she’d been considered a crew recruit despite not being on the high school team. Not taking any chances the second time around, Loughlin had pictures taken of her younger daughter on an ergo meter, a rowing machine.
Her younger daughter, Olivia Jade, has become a face of the scandal due to her popular YouTube channel with two million subscribers. Despite the extreme and unlawful measures Loughlin took to get her daughter into college, Olivia Jade did not appear particularly appreciative of her unearned college acceptance. In a video she uploaded, she stated, “I do want the experience of like game days, partying … I don’t really care about school.”
At the time the news broke, Olivia Jade was in the Bahamas on a yacht belonging to a USC board member. In the wake of the scandal, she has already lost lucrative partnerships with Sephora, Estee Lauder and TRESemme. Meanwhile, Lori Loughlin and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, have both been released on $1 million bail and have court dates arranged.
At this point, only the parents and ringleaders are being accused. The parents involved claim that their children had no idea that their college admission was earned dishonestly. However, this is being called into question. After all, wouldn’t they have questioned why they took the SAT in private when they knew they did not have a learning disability? And wouldn’t Olivia Jade have wondered why she had to pose for pictures on a rowing machine?
Unfortunately, while the details are shocking, the story is no surprise. While some people believe that the parents will get off easily due to their wealth, others expect to see an example made of this high profile scandal. In an FBI report, Singer claimed that he’s had over 700 clients. Therefore, this college cheating scandal is far from over.