College: At What Cost?

On March 5th, 50 people were prosecuted for paying extravagant bribes so their children can get into well know, elite colleges. The most famous of these 50 include Mossimo Giannulli, his wife Lori Loughlin who is Aunt Becky in “Full House,” and Felicity Huffman. There were two ways that these bribes worked. The first would be to improve their child’s SAT or ACT scores and the other would be to manipulate the requirements the children had to meet to get into specific schools. William Singer organized this fraud as the CEO of a college prep business called The Edge College and Career Network, otherwise known as The Key. He used the nonprofit Key Worldwide Foundation to help students cheat of the SAT and ACT and to bribe college coaches into getting students into schools with fake athletic credentials. According to the New York Times, Singer received $25 million in bribes from 2011 to February of this year and was effective in guaranteeing admission to the elite schools he promised the parents. Singer states that the students were unaware that the parents were participating in the bribes. There are obviously many issues with this. First off, the admitted students potentially took the place of a more qualified student who actually earned their spot at the school and ended up being rejected. Next, this is completely cheating the college admissions system. Parents can already increase the chances of their kids getting into certain schools by donating large sums of money, but this way it completely guaranteed admission. That said it was at an extremely high cost, both monetary and reputational. Some parents paid upwards of $1 million and by participating in these bribes, parents risked arrest and their child either finding out or being kicked out of the very school the parents paid so much for them to get in to. Economically speaking, this is an issue because the money paid to Singer was all under the table, meaning it was not taxed or calculated into GDP. A very important aspect of this scandal is that it increases income inequality in the US. It is a well known fact that college educated individuals make more money in their lifetime compared to individuals with simply a high school diploma. Also, individuals that come from more money tend to make more money as well. This admissions scandal is isolating the wealthiest of the wealthy and almost guaranteeing that they hold even more money in the future. For all we know, the individuals who were admitted through this illegal process could have taken the spot of a lower income, more qualified individual. To make matters worse, Olivia Jade and Bella Giannulli, the daughters of Lori Loughlin, are still enrolled at USC, as the school is currently conducting a case by case investigation of those involved.


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