The College Admissions Scandal Was Uncovered Purely by Accident by the FBI

Mustafa Gatollari - Author

Mar. 24 2021, Updated 4:09 p.m. ET

Lori Loughlin
Source: Getty

It's no secret that the jig is up for the university industry in America: There are tons of pieces that highlight the many ways in which the traditional higher education model is a complete and utter scam. From schools potentially losing their accreditation, to rising tuition costs despite offering progressively worse educational experiences, it's shocking that attendance numbers aren't declining even more sharply.

Then, there's the college admissions scandal, which made waves because it involved several high-profile Hollywood families. But how did the story break in the first place?

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The FBI uncovered the college admissions scandal. But the Bureau didn't intend to break this story.

As agents pursued a completely unrelated securities fraud case, they began to follow a trail of money that led to a massive $25 million scheme that saw folks donating massive sums of money in order to get select people admitted into high-profile universities.

Per ABC News, Boston-based FBI agents discovered that there was a $400,000 bribe transferred to Yale's women's soccer team's head coach.

When something is a federal investigation, the likelihood of it going away is slim to none. So you're stuck with a choice: Either you keep your mouth shut and go to jail or you rat.

Put yourself in this coach's position. Ultimately, who are they protecting if they don't talk?

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how did the college admissions scandal break
Source: Getty

They were dealing with a bunch of wealthy parents from entertainment and finance backgrounds who wanted to help get their lazy, under-achieving kids into respected universities with venerated names. So the coach talked.

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The scandal famously resulted in indictments of some 50 people. The one who received the most attention was Full House sweetheart Lori Loughlin, who got her daughter Olivia Jade into the University of Southern Carolina. 

Olivia Jade once famously said: "I don't really care about school," in a YouTube video that's now been deleted. Felicity Huffman was also another actress who was involved in the scandal.

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And while the admissions scandal was linked to high profile U.S. citizens, there was also great concern over foreign nationals "taking" spots in venerated U.S. institutions either through a series of bribes or forged student records. 

The U.S. Department of Education "uncovered more than $6 billion in unreported foreign gifts from countries including Qatar, China, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates" in 2020.

Later, an entire industry that helped Chinese students not only cheat on tests and submit papers but also lie about extracurricular activities and athletic accomplishments in their home countries was exposed.

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What schools were involved in the college admissions scandal?

To date, there were eight universities found guilty of accepting bribes in exchange for student enrollment: Yale, Wake Forest University, University at Texas Austin, University of Southern California, University of San Diego, University of California — Los Angeles, Stanford University, and Georgetown University.

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Many of the aforementioned schools enjoy vaunted reputations across academia, but now that it's been discovered that they've accepted students not based on their academic merit but on the size of the donations that accompanied their applications, their integrity as institutions has been compromised.

Then again, it's a well-known fact that colleges are big business and have been for a very, very long time.

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