By Leonardo Cervantes
Chris Smith’s “Operation Varsity Blues: The College Admissions Scandal” was an eye-opening documentary because of the amount of corruption it exposed.
William Rick Singer was an ambitious and independent college counselor that promised young adults entry into any college. The catch was you would have to pay a large amount of money to get accepted.
Singer had connections with some of the top colleges in the world like Harvard, Georgetown, USC, Boston College and many others.
If a young adult’s parents had enough money for Singer’s back-door deal, they would be guaranteed acceptance to the college of their choosing.
Singer was the mastermind behind this scam and collected tens of millions of dollars.
Singer didn’t suddenly become a slimy person because the opportunity presented itself; he was always like that.
Before he became famous for his back-door deals, he was scamming kids. His scams did not stop there; while working as a college counselor, he would constantly lie about students’ qualifications and even changed their race from white to Latino or African American so they could qualify for affirmative action.
Singer even offered students his services for a one-time fee to get accepted into a certain college.
Singer was on other counselors’ and consultants’ radars for his false promises and shady behavior. They knew something was up but could never prove him guilty of anything. Singer was a former basketball coach and was known to be a hot head.
After he got fired he chose the counselor role. Singer was a natural-born salesman. He made false promises he couldn’t keep while getting young adults’ hopes up.
He wasn’t the most charismatic person, but he had a way with words and he knew how to sell himself. Since he was a former coach, he knew the athletics side of college.
He often told lies about his resume so he could seem more impressive. Singer offered a ‘back door’ approach, unlike a ‘front door’ approach where students get into college on their own. A ‘back door’ as Singer likes to refer to, involved making a donation. Harvard’s ‘back door’ asked for $45 million while Stanford’s was $50 million. This really highlights the different Americas people live in. One student can have near-perfect grades but get rejected to Stanford because a student’s rich parents decided they wanted to donate to the water polo team.
These sort of ‘wink-wink’ deals happened all the time, the horseback riding program or the fencing program would often get large donations. The film showcased how privileged students make their way through life while less fortunate students have to work twice as hard.
The film highlighted Rick Singer as the most evil person but in reality, it was the colleges. Sure Singer was a slimy salesman that made millions off of rich parents but the schools still accepted the payments. They pretended like they did not know what was going on but they were fully aware of what was happening.
In some instances, some programs would receive random donations and coaches would be clueless as to why but athletic directors or head athletic directors knew all along.
A total of 50 people were indicted in this case and the mastermind behind it was Rick Singer.