Washington D.C., USA – Date Unknown (CCTV) – The ongoing college admissions scandal could be “the tip of the iceberg,” said a Harvard law professor as an embarrassing nationwide college-entrance bribery case involving 50 people continues to disturb the U.S. society.
Celebrity parents, coaches and test administrators were among 50 people charged Tuesday in a nationwide college admissions cheating and recruitment scheme that sought to help applicants win admission to elite universities including Yale, Stanford, UCLA, Georgetown and University of Texas.
According to the indictment, the conspiracy involved bribing university athletic coaches and administrators in admitting students under the guise of being recruited as student-athletes, regardless of their athletic abilities, or even, prosecutors said, when they didn’t play the sport at all. Some of the defendants went as far as falsifying athletic profiles in order to make their children look like successful athletes.
The ongoing scandal “doesn’t involve the super, super rich,” who can buy buildings for the universities and don’t have to worry about their kids getting in, but “involves the very rich” – people who can’t quite afford buildings, but can spare five, six millions for their children’s future, he said.
Lawrence Summers, former Harvard president and former U.S. Treasury Secretary, told CNN that some “soul-searching” needs to be done about the U.S. high education system. The American people are not entirely wrong to think that elites are rigging the system for their own benefit and for the benefit of their families, he said.
Although Harvard is not on the tarnished list, five of the charged parents are Harvard graduates, which has drawn much attention from students at Harvard Yard.
Some students from lower-income families say they are not surprised, as education inequality has been part of their growth.
“We always thought it was unfair that rich people could just pay their way into schools like this, but it has always been happening, and it only forces lower-income students like my friends and I to work harder. It’s something unfair, but it’s not something we’re not used to,” said Annie Harrigan, a student at Harvard.
According to reports, 17 percent of Harvard graduates in 2021 come from well-off families with household annual incomes of 500,000 U.S. dollars or higher, and students who graduate from elite private high schools are 20 times more likely to go on to elite universities than their average peers.
Public primary and secondary schools in the U.S. are tuition-free, but private schools cost 40,000 to 50,000 U.S. dollars per year.