In March 2019, 51 people were charged in a scheme to secure spots at big name colleges. Federal prosecutors have accused parents of spending up to $75,000 in bribes to help their children get into prestigious colleges. Fifteen parents have pleaded guilty to their charges.
“I’m not surprised.” stated Dr. Melissa Kiehl, a mother and G/T teacher at Mt. Hebron.
“There’s so much pressure on all of you. I think as a parent with means they saw that as a way to relieve that pressure.”
Crimes committed by the parents involved include mail fraud, honest services fraud, and money laundering. Many of the parents were high profile celebrities, such as Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman. Not only does the scandal impact the parents accused, but the schools as well. From falsifying an ACT score to pretending to be an elite athlete, upper class parents have bribed and laundered their way into the most selective colleges.
Eight universities were discovered to have involvement in the college admissions scandal — Georgetown University, Stanford University, UCLA, USC, University of San Diego, University of Texas at Austin, Wake Forest University, Harvard, Northwestern, and Yale University. In both academics and athletics, these schools accepted bribes for student admission.
On September 13, 2019, Felicity Huffman was sentenced to spend 14 days in a low security prison for spending $15,000 to inflate her eldest daughter’s SAT score. Huffman pled guilty to honest services fraud, similar to many involved in the scandal. But many believe that fourteen days is too light a sentence for Huffman’s crimes.
Mr. Philip Herdman, a father and teacher, said, “I think it’s a punishment that usually aligns with how much money you have. People who get punishments for simple drug crimes are in jail for ten years, and she’s getting fourteen days.”
Within the sphere of higher education, the scandal highlights that the affluent are provided exclusive opportunities to succeed according to students at Mt. Hebron.
Meera Sevalia, a junior at Mt. Hebron, said, “I feel like rich people always had their ways of getting into things.” The scandal has exposed a new, darker side of college admissions to a younger demographic of people.
“It’s a completely unfair balance of power. My daughter who could have great grades is still going to be set aside to somebody who can afford to do that,” said Mr. Herdman.
The parents and schools involved are facing the consequences of their actions. Those involved have been exposed for accepting bribes and false information, bringing in a new era of aware college applicants.