Federal prosecutors in the U.S. recently charged dozens of wealthy parents with committing fraud in attempts to get their children into elite universities such as Yale and Stanford.
Parents have adopted strategies which range from faking athletic records and test scores to outright bribes.
Lori Loughlin (a sitcom star) and her husband Mossimo Giannulli (a fashion designer) allegedly paid $500 000 to get their daughters into the University of Southern California’s rowing crew, even though they weren’t actually rowers.
Felicity Huffmann (of Desperate Housewives) allegedly paid $15 000 to an invigilator to ensure her daughter did well on a SATs test.
The institution which facilitated all of this elite education fraud was called ‘The Key’ – a ‘college counselling business’ in Sacremento which paid off invigilators to provided certain students will correct answers or even correct their test sheets. He also bribed college sports officials to take on students who didn’t play sports.
This was all covered up by getting parents to donate to a bogus charity to help disadvantaged students, in reality of course the money went to the bent officials faking the test scores etc.
NB – this may not actually be as bad as the legal situation – if you look at Harvard’s entrance stats, 42% of students whose parents made donations got in, compared to only 4.6% of the wider population, and of course the whole of the university system is already stacked in favour of the rich given that it’s so expensive to get a university degree!
Relevance to A-level sociology