My colleagues and I at YCC are dedicated to serving students and families in the college admissions and funding processes. And as those of you who have worked with us can attest, we do so with the intent of personalizing the college process to maximize our student’s chances of long-term success, educationally and financially. There is a true and significant guidance gap in our high school education system; too many students and too few counselors. So, yes I believe that our programs, courses and counsel can provide students with a competitive advantage over their peers in the college access/affordability ‘game’; a LEGITIMATE one.
That’s why it frankly saddens me to write you today. By now you may have seen the big news that is rocking the college admissions world. I just got a text from my mom, so the story of the FBI uncovering an admissions scandal has clearly hit the mainstream.
What’s known so far is that about 50 people in 6 states were indicted on charges of bribery, racketeering and conspiracy so that certain applicants could be admitted to competitive colleges. The schools named include Yale, Georgetown, Stanford, Wake Forest and USC, UCLA, University of Texas-Austin, among others – a who’s who list of competitive schools.
Among those charged include actresses Lori Loughlin (Full House) and Felicity Huffman (Desperate Housewives). It is alleged that these moms (and others) so desperately wanted their kids to get into school that they were willing to spend big money, break the rules and the law. According to the FBI Affidavit, some folks were “investing” as much as $50,000 or $75,000, to secure admissions spots through a “side door” at these top schools. And many school officials (and at least one independent counselor) got very rich “returns” in the process.
Also indicted, and apparently at the center of the transgressions, is William Rick Singer, president and founder of an independent college prep company known as The Key. According to FBI, Singer has plead guilty to charges and is cooperating with authorities. In the small world category, I met Mr. Singer about 9 years ago in Miami when he was trying to build a national network of independent college counselors. For the record, our discussions never went anywhere, but he did share how he was working with a very wealthy, high-end clientele.
A common theme in this scandal, and where Singer was apparently at the center, involves the misrepresentation of student applicants as decorated athletes. College coaches then got involved (and got paid!) to streamline the application through the admissions process knowing that the applicant would never play sports there. Other charges include fraud with respect to the SAT and ACT, where students took advantage of extended time to take the test at “controlled” centers with friendly proctors.
According to the indictment, many of the students had no idea that their parents were in on the dirty deeds. In some cases, however, they were aware and willingly complicit in the actions taken.
If you think the college admissions process is unfair, today’s news may not come as much of a shock. But this takes the unfairness to a whole new level. What’s sad is that these students took spots away from otherwise qualified and law-abiding applicants – students who were likely more qualified than those uber-wealthy kids whose parents chose to cheat the system. Those rejected will never know if they might have otherwise been admitted.
It should be no secret that we feel that competition to get admitted to a top college has gone way too far. Perhaps today’s breaking scandal will finally be the tipping point and people will realize that cheating the admissions process does nothing for their own children. Perhaps this is an opportunity to redirect the conversation about higher ed away from ‘getting in’ and toward what our children will be doing while there to become successful adults and citizens. I certainly hope so.
We work with students to maximize their potential and their chances at admission to a school that is a best-fit for them, and where you as loving parents can afford to send them. We have grown to be greatly respected by the families we serve, by the high schools our students attend, AND the colleges that admit our students. I’ll follow the story and continue to speak out if/when appropriate. In the interim, if you have any questions about today’s news or more generally, how the college admissions and funding landscape is evolving, I invite you to reach out to me to learn more. You can email me directly at Peter@YourCollegeConcierge.