College Admissions Scandal: How much for a college education? How much have you got?

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College Admissions Scandal: How much for a college education? How much have you got

-By Curtice Mang

At long last, we now know the answer to this much asked question: How much does a college education cost?

Answer: How much have you got?

It turns out that the cost of admission to elite colleges in the United States is really expensive if one is rich, white and has kids who aren’t very bright and are as motivated as a sloth on Dramamine.

Last week federal prosecutors charged 50 people in a college admissions scandal, including well-known actresses, prominent business people and college coaches in a criminal indictment with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud to get their under performing (read: lazy) kids into elite universities.  I’m not clear what the difference between mail fraud and honest mail fraud is, I only know that the speed at which some postal service employees provide service borders on the criminal.

The mastermind of the scheme was William “Rick” Singer, who claims he facilitated the   unethical or illegal college admissions for more than 750 families.  (Isn’t Rick a nickname for Richard and Bill the nickname for William? This is very confusing.)  

The scam was essentially this: Well-heeled parents paid Singer large sums to get their kids into to college by bribing admissions testing officials, athletics staff and coaches at nine universities. 

Specifically, Singer worked with psychologists to complete paperwork that would certify that the kids had learning disabilities that required them to take extra time to for the SAT and ACT tests. The applicants would then be directed to two specific locations where a stand-in for the applicants would take the tests for them or a test proctor would correct the tests taken by the actual applicants.

Mark Riddell, director of IMG Academy, was often the stand-in for the student applicants. Unfortunately, even his test scores were not that great as he often misspelled the names of those on whose behalf he was cheating.  Prosecutors allege he was paid $10,000 per test. Heck, I could have taken the tests for much less than that, although the math scores wouldn’t have been too great. In school I excelled in math until they started putting letters in the problems.  I never could figure out what xand ywere doing there.

Ten college coaches were among those charged, including Gordon “Gordie” Ernst, former Georgetown tennis coach, William “Bill” Ferguson, Wake Forest volleyball coach, Rudolph “Rudy” Meredith, former Yale women’s soccer coach and John “John” Vandemoer, former Stanford sailing coach. Stanford has a sailing team?

One of those nabbed in the college admissions scandal was actress Felicity Huffman, former star of Desperate Housewives – as if that title wasn’t prescient enough.  (Full disclosure, Huffman once wore shoes designed by my brother to a Hollywood event. I don’t know if her penchant for designer footwear had any impact on her efforts to get her kid into the right college or not as my brother has yet to return my phone call.)

Actress Lori “Lori” Loughlin and her husband, Mossimo “Mossimo” Giannulli, are accused of paying $500,000 to get their daughters accepted into USC as members of the crew.  Half a million dollars to get two kids into USC?  That seems a bit steep to me.  I figured all it should take is a $25 Quizno’s gift card, a new lawnmower and a promise never to appear in a reboot of The Love Boat.

And what exactly is a crew?  I have it on good authority it is not a student group that wanders around campus reciting things like “me and the crew are just chillin’.  Apparently, it is related to rowing or skulling or something.  I guess I spend too much time chillin’ with my crew to know much about, well, crew.  It seems Loughlin’s kids didn’t know much about it either.

Court documents allege that Loughlin worked with some unnamed person to portray her oldest daughter as a coxswain for some local rowing team.  A coxswain?  I may be ill-informed about rowing, but that sounds more like a Stormy Daniels adult video.  Late last week it was revealed that Loughlin’s daughters, Olivia Jade Giannulli and Isabella Rose Giannulli, are leaving USC.  The USC Women’s Rowing Team released the following statement:

Had they actually been on the team, Olivia Jade and Isabella Rose would be greatly missed. Their bank accounts certainly will be.

Loughlin was a regular actress on the Hallmark Channel and used to be on Full House, a weird sitcom that had some kids and a few adults, although I could never figure out which kids belonged to which adults. It took place in San Francisco.  I knew it wasn’t real because there hasn’t been a child seen in San Francisco since 1979.

Following her indictment, the Hallmark Channel dumped Loughlin from any subsequent movies produced by the cable channel.  That is too bad, for I think I can speak for everyone when I say what this nation is in desperate need of is another year of Garage Sale Mystery.

I have some personal experience with school bribery in the past.  Upon graduating high school Arizona State University offered my father a substantial amount to make sure I did not attend the school.  My dad, to his credit, refused the money, believing that my attendance at one of the top party schools in the country at the time (thanks, Playboy!) would be beneficial for me.  My mom would have rather had a pool put in and me attend community college.

It should be noted that Yavapai Community College, located in Prescott, Arizona, had some interest in me as a student upon my graduation from high school.  However, once the city fathers got wind of this, they became concerned, believing that I would give the town’s famed Whiskey Row a bad name.  The school’s interest in me quickly waned.

Although my Alma mater played no role in the college admissions scandal, it did still manage to get a mention. It seems Mossimo “Mossimo” Giannulli was none to keen to have to settle for lowly ASU as a college choice for his daughters.  While researching this article I did discover that ASU does in fact have both men’s and women’s rowing teams.  Granted, it is in the desert, so they probably don’t compete for the top recruits in the country, although they do have a coxswain or two. The teams do seem to be in chronic need of funding and have been known to be seen outside of grocery stores selling cookies. Giannulli’s kid might have actually been able to make ASU’s squad.

Also, not long ago, I decided to seek out an obedience school for my dog.  He was hoping for a lacrosse scholarship but, alas, I couldn’t afford it.  Plus, he could never really hold the stick.  I finally found a school that would accept him and all it took was a payment to an “admissions counselor” of a Sam Adams 12-pack, two tickets to an arena football game, an autographed picture of Felicity Huffman (talk about coincidence) and some sandpaper.  (I chose not to ask about the sandpaper.)  My dog also took out a student loan, it will be paid off in 127 dog years.

Everybody’s favorite ill-informed freshman congresswoman, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, claimed the college admissions scandal is a lot like our electoral process. Except, it’s not. For the best example of why it’s not, I present Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.  Although, it raises an interesting question – who took her SAT test?

This scandal does have something for everybody to despise. Those who favor affirmative action can be outraged that some wealthy kid took an underrepresented marginalized student’s place at an elite university. Those who believe merit and achievement should be what gets a person into college can be outraged that a wealthy nitwit can take the place of a far more qualified student. And those who traditionally need cheating to help get them into college, I mean some football and basketball athletes, can be outraged that others are stealing their process.

The college admissions scandal has all the earmarks of a made-for-TV movie.  A wealthy single mom from a small town, looks to get her precocious, but none-too-bright, daughter into an elite university. The mom falls for the shy and socially awkward guy she hires to take her kid’s SAT test. Although her daughter never learns to swim, she is portrayed as very skilled at treading water in an effort to get accepted as a highly coveted water polo recruit.  The movie ends with the mom and the test taker waving goodbye to the daughter as she heads off to West Texas State, water polo cap in tow.

Unlike real-life, no one goes to jail in a Hallmark movie.

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