'Varsity Blues' admissions scandal hits close to home

'Varsity Blues' admissions scandal hits close to home

Story by Amaia Horyna and Kalson Yussuf. Photo illustration by Allison Ryan.

The “Varsity Blues” bribery scandal has made its mark with current Judge students who are currently applying to the schools at the center of the controversy – Stanford, USC, the University of San Diego, Yale, and UCLA. They’re left to wonder if their spot might get taken away by someone who never deserved it. 

Recent graduates of Judge who now attend these schools have also been affected, so we reached out to them to see how they felt about the scandal and what students were saying about it on their campus. 

Ben Butcher, now a student at USC said, “In general, students who are here on scholarship or simply worked hard in high school to be admitted to USC are bothered by this whole thing.”

Over the past few years wealthy parents of students paid over $25 million to a college admissions counselor who used some of the money to bribe college officials and pay professional test takers to take ACT tests for prospective students just so that their kids could get into these universities.

The biggest scandal that hit was USC where an athletic department official, the water polo coach, and assistant soccer coaches were all charged for taking bribes. Lori Loughlin and her husband Mossimo Giannulli paid $500,000 in total for both their daughters to get into the challenging school. The parents said that both the girls were being recruited by the USC rowing team even though they weren’t on a rowing team. A common thing to do was to Photoshop their heads to the rowers body. Others Photoshopped their heads on to club water polo players, or whatever sport the child is “participating” in. 

A women’s soccer coach at Yale University, one of the most challenging Ivy League schools to get into, was one of the biggest schools to commit this crime. One of the students families paid the coach $450,000 to be get the student in this school. It does not stop there. The Georgetown head tennis coach accepted bribes of up to $950,000 to help 12 students get into the school. The University of Texas tennis coach, a former head University of San Diego basketball coach, and a UCLA soccer coach were also arrested.

The scandal wasn’t only about athletic scholarships. Some parents paid to have professional test-takers take their children’s ACT tests by having the students pretend to have learning disabilites so that they could have over two days to take their tests.

Recent Judge grads react to the scandals at their schools

In light of the recent college scandal, Judge alumni gave insight to the college admissions process as well as the atmosphere at their school after the news broke. Three Judge alums from University of Southern California, Stanford, and University of San Diego shared their reactions and gave advice to current Judge students experiencing the college process. 

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“I know exactly what it’s like to be rejected from your dream school.”

Ben Butcher, USC

Ben Butcher is currently enrolled as a sophomore at University of Southern California. He was originally waitlisted from USC, but later gained admission and subsequently transferred.

Ben said that the reaction on campus was extreme as USC has been at the forefront of media attention. He and many other students who are attending USC based purely on merit are the most hurt by the scandal and hope that, “coaches and certain members of the 1% will learn from this whole experience.”

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“It’s pretty clear that certain kids are on campus because their families have donated millions”

Jim Best-Devereux, Stanford

Jim Best-Devereux gave a very honest reflection on his experiences at Stanford and the impact of the scandal on campus. He shed light on the “creeping suspicion that there was no way something like this didn’t exist,” among students and that in some instances,

At Stanford, it seems as though the children of the elite are untouchable and that, “ there are no doors that could possibly be closed for them.”

Best-Devereux acknowledged the negative aspects of the admissions process, saying that even the best are rejected from Stanford. He encourages students at Judge to work hard and do everything within your control, however, “beyond that there’s no way to guarantee you can get into a place like Stanford.” 

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“I still feel like there is an excellent education available here.”

Grace Schmidt, University of San Diego

Grace Schmidt was genuinely shocked by the scandal at her college - University of San Diego. She is still very hopeful and trusting in the integrity of her school as only one student was involved in the scandal. 

“While it is heartbreaking that this happened and could negatively impact this school’s reputation I still feel like there is an excellent education available here.”

 And she encourages Judge students to not let this scandal turn them away from USD as she has had nothing but positive experiences.  She still has faith in the admissions process, but feels that there needs to be serious revisions to avoid future breaches of integrity. 

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