This Tuesday, the Department of Justice unveiled one of the largest college admission fraud cases ever, as the result of a months-long investigation named Operation Varsity Blues. About 33 wealthy parents, including actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, along with college admissions consultants, administrators, and coaches, have been charged with illegal activities.
These include faking learning disabilities so someone else could take the ACT and SAT tests on behalf of their kids, bribing admissions test administrators to raise their kids’ test scores, paying college athletic coaches “to designate applicants as purported athletic recruits” regardless of their athletic abilities. About a dozen elite colleges, including Georgetown, Yale, and the University of Southern California (USC), are implicated in this scandal.
The fact that these wealthy parents would go so far, even knowingly breaking the law, in order to get their kids into elite colleges is both sad and appalling. There are at least six legal ways these parents could have helped their kids get into elite colleges that are far more palatable.
1. Attend An Elite College Yourself
Parents, if you really want your kids to attend an elite college, why not lead by example? It helps if you go there first. Most elite colleges give strong preference to legacies in college admission as a way to attract donations from alumni.
For example, the admissions rate for legacy applicants in Harvard was five times the rate of non-legacy students. The Wall Street Journal reports that “at the University of Notre Dame, the University of Virginia and Georgetown University, the admission rate for legacies is about double the rate for the overall applicant pool…At Princeton University, legacies are admitted at four times the general rate.”
2. Make a Big Donation to the School, Not to Scammers
Daniel Golden, the author of the 2006 book “The Price of Admission: How America’s Ruling Class Buys Its Way into Elite Colleges—and Who Gets Left Outside the Gates,” explains that since “the percentage of small, grassroots donors—alumni who give a little bit—has declined, universities are more dependent on big donations, the kind that often carry a kind of admissions tit for tat.” To prove his point, he alleges that Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law, got into Harvard shortly after his dad, Charles Kushner, pledged to donate $2.5 million (legally) in 1998.
So, parents, if you are already wealthy, why give money to college consultants and scammers? You can make a legal donation to an elite college in exchange for not only having your name on a building, but also having your children admitted.
Granted, the more prestigious the school is, the bigger donation you need to make. Still, a legal donation, which is also tax deductible, beats serving fraud charges in a jail.
3. Become a Powerful Politician
Chelsea Clinton went to Stanford University for her undergraduate degree and Oxford University for her master’s and doctorate. Malia Obama attends Harvard, and Sasha Obama is a freshman at the University of Michigan. Tiffany Trump goes to Georgetown Law School.
It’s a well-known secret that elite colleges love to admit the children of powerful politicians––and not just American politicians, but powerful politicians from around the world. For example, Chinese President Xi Jinping’s daughter went to Harvard. So did the son of President Xi’s former political rival, Bo Xilai.
So parents, this one is on you again. If you desperately want to send your children to an elite school, maybe now it’s time to sharpen your public speaking skills and jump into politics.
4. Encourage Your Kids to Become Progressive Activists
Since the tragedy at Parkland, student David Hogg turned himself into a gun control activist and co-founded Never Again MSD, a gun control advocacy group. He rose to national fame after aggressively attacking the National Rifle Association in many media appearances and being the main speaker at last year’s March For Our Lives rally.
He made additional news in the spring of last year after he was rejected by several colleges, including the University of California at Los Angeles, and California State at Long Beach. But now he is a freshman at Harvard, joining another Parkland survivor, Jaclyn Corin, co-founder of the March For Our Lives group.
So parents, you are right that sending your kids to do international service work in the summer can no longer make them stand out in their college applications. Since leftist thoughts and ideas dominate college campuses, especially elite college campuses, having your kids take on a liberal cause as a social justice warrior seems like a sure way to get them admitted. In addition, if your kids are already progressive activists in high school, they will feel right at home at most elite colleges.
5. Turn Your Kid Into a Celebrity First
According to Bustle, plenty of young celebrities attended elite colleges after they gained fame and fortune. Jodie Foster went to Yale; Brooke Shields attended Princeton; Natalie Portman is a Harvard graduate; Ashley Olsen, Mary-Kate Olsen, Dakota Fanning, and Haley Joel Osment all attended New York University; Emma Watson graduated from Brown.
So there you go, parents. Help turn your kid into a celebrity first, and elite college admission will come. I wonder why Huffman and Loughlin, both famous Hollywood actresses, hadn’t thought of this one.
6. Make Your Kid Actually Study Hard
The FBI indictment showed the length some parents go to ensure their kids have acceptable SAT and ACT tests: parents first obtained “fake medical documentation saying their kids had a learning disability that required ‘extra time’ so they could take the test on their own over multiple days.” Then these parents paid impostors to take SAT or ACT test on behalf of their kids at test centers run by the college consultant they hired.
If attending elite colleges means so much to these parents, here’s a novel idea: make your kids actually study hard on their own. Many Asian American kids have proven that you don’t need expensive tutoring. As long as you are willing to work hard, a 4.0 GPA or a good SAT or ACT score is within reach, and you don’t have to worry about breaking the law. Although I have to admit, Asian students are a little too successful in test taking and face a different set of challenges in college admissions, as evidenced by their lawsuit against Harvard.
It’s understandable that many ordinary American families are shocked by this latest college cheating scandal by wealthy parents. Has meritocracy died in college admissions? Ross Douthat, a New York Times columnist, offered some silver lining in a tweet: “This is not proof that meritocracy is somehow ‘broken.’ Quite the reverse: It shows that the desire to claim some measured ‘merit’ to legitimize success extends to parents who by merely financial measures don’t need the Ivy stamp to ensure their kids’ success.”
To be honest, elite colleges in America are highly overrated. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez graduated from Boston University, an elite college. Her Green New Deal, concern about farting cows, and bizarre questioning of a Wells Fargo CEO during a recent congressional hearings, only proves that her elite education hasn’t taught her many useful lessons (like Economics 101).
So parents, if you really care about getting a quality education for your kids at a reasonable cost, send them to Hillsdale College or my alma mater, the University of Wyoming. God knows “the world needs more cowboys,” not scammers.