Elsa Yifei Li//Irvine High School/11th Grade
This is how coaches, administrators, and counselors helped wealthy parents cheat the system in the biggest College Admissions scandal in U.S. history.
William Rick Singer was the in charge of a college counseling business known as “The Key”. He was also the founder and CEO of a sham global charity call “Key Worldwide Foundation” and an online high school. Using his counseling business, his sham charity, his online high school, and his connections with athletic coaches, Singer would orchestrate the biggest Admissions Scandal in U.S. history by faking SAT and ACT scores for his clients, faking GPA, and bribing into Athletic Scholarships in top Colleges.
To pull off the athletic scholarship scam, a parent who had been approached by Singer revealed that Singer‘s college prep counseling sham would start innocently enough, with normal counseling and help with the application process and practice tests for his son.
“But then it got weird,” the parent revealed to Axios. “He sort of said, ’I think I can get your kid into USC, but he‘s going to be a football player.’” The parent turned down his offer but said the experience left him feeling “dirty”. For those parents who did accept Singer‘s “side door”, this was just the beginning. Singer would then advise the parents to make a “charitable donation” to his sham charity Key Worldwide.
This money would then be used as bribes to coaches, test administrators, and others part of this scheme. His sham charity help disguise the source of these bribes. Singer went as far as taking stage photos of the clients’ kids engaged in athletic activities, sometimes even photoshopping their faces onto stock photos. He would help create fake athletic profiles for the students, going as far as altering a student‘s height in one instance.
Olivia Jade, the daughter of Lori Loughlin, was designated as part of the USC crew team to guarantee her admission, even though she did not even play the sport.
One of the coaches, Rudolf Meredith, women’s soccer coach from Yale, unintentionally outed the scheme to police when he tried to cut Singer of of a deal.
To manage the Standardized Test and GPA scam, Singer hired Mark Riddell, who graduated from Harvard in 2004, ironically enough, from an athletic scholarship program. Using his Online High School, Singer hired Riddell and others to take the courses in place of the students, raising their GPA.
To raise the score on standardized tests, Singer would first advise the parents to get a fake disability accommodation, allotting extra time for the student in question. This would guarantee that the student would take the test alone, with a separate proctor.
The proctor would then be given bribes, and this is where Riddell comes in. He is given 10,000 dollars or more to either take the test in place of the student or correct the student‘s answers after he or she finishes, helping the child get the client’s desired score.
When inquired about the integrity of standardized tests in light of the scandal, high school freshman Isabel Hahn expressed: “Especially in light of the scandal I think it can be a lot better. It shows that the money can really corrode the process. The integrity of the test really comes into question here.”
Sophomore Sungjoon echoed a similar sentiment: “I always thought it was almost impossible to cheat on the SAT because it was so controlled. But now it shows the system can be cheated with some tens of thousands of dollars. It shows that the system is vulnerable and I now trust it less.”
<Elsa Yifei Li//Irvine High School/11th Grade