College admissions scandal rocks elite schools nationwide


People indicted in the scandal; Lori Laughlin left, Rick Singer center, Felicity Huffman right.

Colleges across the country are in deep water. A broad and sweeping federal investigation, called “Operation Varsity Blues,” has led to 50 indictments among some of America’s most elite universities, with most of the coverage on the University of Southern California.

The indictments allege that the entire scheme was orchestrated by William “Rick” Singer through the use of his college admissions company, The Key. He would sell to ultra-wealthy families cheating on the SAT/ACT or get kids onto sports teams with fake athletic credentials.

Understandably, students across the country are outraged, including students at Northwest.

“It pisses me off,” said senior Frank Wei, who is attending Duke University this fall. “Here I am having worked hard for the past four years, and then there’re these people who think they can just pay their way into schools.”

Initially some people were surprised, but others recognized that this an old practice.

“I’m not surprised; people have been doing things like this to get into college,” Northwest guidance counselor Stacey Garner said. “I am shocked as an educator, though, because if someone bought me a suitcase with $100,000, I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night if I knew someone was taking someone else’s test.”

Looking towards North Carolina, one of our own elite universities has been implicated in the cheating scandal: Wake Forest University. The WFU volleyball coach, Bill Ferguson, was indicted on allegations of bribery and cheating.

Urgently, the President of the entire university, Nathan Hatch, sent out an email to students, faculty and staff on March 18 that was later made public.

It assuages fears of the general admissions process being affected and restates the United States Justice Department assessment as Wake Forest being a victim in the situation. The letter also said that Wake will redirect $50,000 that they received from Singer’s company to a scholarship program for first-generation college students.

Furthermore, Wake Forest sent out an email to all current applicants stating, “We seek students who have excelled academically, exhibited intellectual curiosity and creativity, and who have demonstrated character and concern for those around them,” as an attempt to try to ease student concerns about the 2019 admission cycle. 

Regardless, other elite schools in NC aren’t as affected.

“I have never seen it happen, I have been in rooms where we have given the SAT, the only way for (cheating) to happen is if the test administrator’s integrity has been compromised,” Garner said.

Looking to the future, schools are being faced with pressure to change the admissions process.

“They should place less importance of test scores and read applications with more scrutiny,” Wei said.