Photo courtesy of Nick Youngson by Alpha Stock Images, Creative Commons License
By Julia Jun
William “Rick” Singer, the organizer of the Varsity Blues scandal has been sentenced to three years and six months in federal prison for a national college admissions bribery scheme. Starting in 2019, the Varsity Blues scandal, which involved celebrities and wealthy families who paid more than $25 million to William Singer to inflate entrance exam test scores and bribe officials who had influence over admissions, was made public. His sentence is the longest sentence handed in regards to the higher American education system. Singer has once again shone spotlight on the secretive systems that influence the admission system in favor of the rich.
From 2011 to 2018, William Singer was accused of receiving millions and from then cooperating with the FBI in gathering evidence against the parents and the students that would take part in the cheating scandal. He recorded hundreds of voice calls and meetings that helped the authorities unravel the extensive scandal that has been going on for years. He was first discovered as the mastermind behind this massive scheme after a sting operation held in a Boston hotel back in 2018, where a college coach was recorded in a meeting receiving bribes. There, the name William Singer was mentioned and ever since, he was found to be the main culprit today behind what is known as the Varsity Blues Scandal.
Ever since the Varsity Blues was made public, more than fifty parents were exposed to buying their child’s way into college. Universities like University of Southern California, Northwestern, Georgetown, Yale, and Stanford have expelled students, and according to a New York Times article, “Some students who were seniors in high school when their parents were arrested had their college applications denied or were forced to withdraw them.” While most students were generally unaffected and were unaware of the whole situation, many parents “lost high-paying jobs, had professional licenses suspended or investigated, or were publicly shamed as examples of greed and bad parenting.”
So how might this affect LC students and even students globally? As of now, these incidents are still very new. Many education systems that are lenient with parents with power and money are still being uncovered and investigated, but it’s too early to judge how deep it runs. It’s clearly unfair to every other student who climbed to the ranks through years of sweat and tears to lose their opportunity from those who are willing to spend thousands and even millions to send their children to go to the college of their choice. This scandal definitely does not help LC students either, it can definitely add the pressure of having to go to a certain school in order to succeed or even being pushed into an atmosphere of dishonesty. Thoughts of, “If rich people are faking their resumes and paying their way to college, it wouldn’t hurt to tweak a small bullet point on our resumes.” This definitely pushes for students to justify dishonesty, but this should not serve to create more pressure into going to the best college. Success is not always going into the top 3 colleges to “set” your future and isn’t stopped by going to a community school. Rather this event can become an opportunity for LC students to become even more honest and stand strong with what we did and not what we could have done. So maybe this event is not that bad afterall, but it definitely plays a negative part in our overall education system outside of just LCHS. Does this mean standardized testing will become more rigorous or disappear in the future to even out the playing field? With the many risks that come about with parents and students going to extreme lengths to cheat their success there’s no telling how this might change the college administration. The biggest question is, what is the future of our education system looking like? If changing statistics for grades, sports, and testing are so accessible to people who have enough money to waste, to what extent do colleges and schools need to go in order to truly be able to truly weigh a student’s competence?