Pathetic Parents and College Admissions
That’s who I turned to on those stressful days when my kids were waiting for college acceptances. It’s a nerve-wracking time for most families. I always found that a tall margarita - or two - helped me relax while the kids paced the floors and repeatedly refreshed their emails looking for messages from admissions offices.
Then again, I’m one of the little people. If I’d been an unscrupulous Hollywood star, an amoral New York hedge fund manager or a corrupt Silicon Valley CEO I might have turned to William Singer. You know, the con man who raked in $25 million over seven years, helping parents cheat to get their little dullards into elite colleges and universities.
Singer’s almost certainly headed to federal prison - along with the pathetic parents - but his scam worked for years. During that time he got many undeserving kids into top-notch schools while nonchalantly stomping on the dreams of students who played by the rules.
Look, rich and powerful people have always pulled strings to gain admission for their offspring at prestigious schools. Usually the “bribes” are perfectly legal. Alums stroke fat checks to their alma maters. Or they lean on their well-connected friends to nab their kid a coveted spot.
Shoot, there’s an entire industry aimed at grooming children from wealthy families for competitive schools.
In a piece headlined “Inside the Pricey, Totally Legal World of College Consultants,” The New York Times reports that, “For prices up to $1.5 million, parents can buy a five-year, full-service package of college admissions consulting from a company in New York City called Ivy Coach. The service — all of it legal — begins as early as eighth grade…”
But the gambit Singer devised took string -pulling to new heights. For one price, he could rig a kid’s SAT score. For another, he would package a lumpy couch potato as an elite athlete.
In one case, The Wall Street Journal reported that parents paid Singer $50,000 to have someone sit with their daughter and correct her answers on the SATs.
These people are awful.
The feds charged Singer with racketeering, money laundering and obstruction of justice. The 50 people arrested this week as part of his scheme included 33 parents. They’re facing an array of charges. Including tax evasion, I hope.
One of the most audacious aspects of Singer’s enterprise was that this human hairbag set up a sham charity to launder the money that was going to bribe coaches, college administrators, test proctors and other corrupt characters.
Thanks to Singer, parents were able to deduct bribery payments as charitable contributions on their taxes, just like the rest of us do when we contribute to our churches or to the American Red Cross.
Every one of these tax cheats belongs in prison.
The kids, we’re told, were unaware of their parents’ shenanigans.
Sorry. Not buying it. Maybe they weren’t part of the pay-for-play admissions racket. But they had to know something was up when they were sent halfway around the country to take their SATs in a room where the proctor was whispering in their ears or erasing their answers.
Or when their mothers insisted on taking pics of them in water polo gear, a sport they’d never played. Or when they got into Yale with the kind of grades that would barely get them into the local land-grant institution.
Actually, I feel sorry for these kids. They’re the products of sleazy parents who didn’t love them enough to teach them how to deal with failure and disappointment.
The good news is they may finally learn those lessons. When they visit Mumsy and Daddy in jail.