The college admissions scandal that shocked the nation: A unique cheating scheme to gain access into prestigious universities

The college admissions scandal has exposed wealthy families for cheating on behalf of their children to get into prestigious universities. Photo graphic by Maria Nevada

Megan Schneider

In the era of transparency, or lack thereof, the latest celebrity scandal is one for the record books. News of a college admissions scandal took the nation by surprise in a twisted turn of events on March 12. Celebrities used their wealth to cheat their children into receiving admission into top universities throughout the country.

Hollywood stars, CEOs, standardized test administrators and college coaches are among the list of 50 people who allegedly participated in a cheating scheme, according to CNN. The scheme was used to cheat on college admission tests which granted students and athletes acceptance into prominent colleges, despite their own abilities.

A federal indictment and criminal complaint were filed for eight universities. The mastermind behind the scheme is William Rick Singer. Singer was paid an estimated $25 million by parents to assist their children into gaining acceptance into top schools, said U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts, Andrew Lelling, in a detailed press conference regarding the charges.

“There can be no separate college admissions system for the wealthy, and I’ll add that there will not be a separate criminal justice system either,” Lelling said.

Lori Loughlin, also known as Aunt Becky on ‘Full House,’ used her status to get her daughter, Olivia Jade Giannulli, into the University of Southern California. The social media star, also known as Olivia Jade on YouTube, created a popular channel that amassed 1 million subscribers. Her channel documents her life of luxury, designer clothing and casual makeup tutorials, however, her decision to put her life on display failed in the blink of an eye.

Giannulli’s world came crashing down when old videos of her talking negatively about attending college resurfaced. She was more eager to attend parties than focusing on her studies. Giannulli was unsure of how to balance her social media career and YouTube channel while in college. She revealed her thoughts on college in a video that has since been deleted, according to People.

It’s concerning to learn of Giannulli’s ignorance and insincerity on potentially earning a college degree. Many students dream of pursuing a college education from a young age. Giannulli is far from achieving that dream due to her mother’s involvement in a deceitful cheating and bribery scheme.

Brand partnerships like Sephora broke off their sponsorships and associations with Giannulli after news of the scandal broke. YouTubers depend on brand deals to make money, losing a partnership can have harsh side effects.

A spokesperson for Sephora said in a statement that its relationship with Giannulli is over.

“After careful review of recent developments, we have made the decision to end the Sephora Collection partnership with Olivia Jade, effective immediately,” the spokesperson said, according to Elle magazine.

Loughlin wasn’t the only actress involved in this debacle. Felicity Huffman was also accused of paying $15,000 to have a crooked test proctor increase her daughter’s SAT score, according to The New York Times. Huffman was arrested in her Hollywood Hills home by F.B.I agents on March 12.

The New York Times stated Huffman was arrested on two charges: conspiracy to commit mail fraud and conspiracy to commit honest services mail fraud. However, she was released on a $250,000 bond. Huffman is due back in Boston’s federal court on April 3.

Cheating on college admission exams must be investigated further after this harrowing scandal. All 50 people should take full accountability for their actions and own up to their disastrous mistakes. Complete transparency on a university’s campus matters.