Anyone can see the kinds of things outlined in the indictment — bribes paid by wealthy parents in exchange for their children’s admission to top universities, and accompanying schemes to secure athletics scholarships for teens who didn’t even play high school sports — are unacceptable. But what about the standardized test prep industry, worth around $840 million, which involves parents forking over up to $200 an hour for Ivy League tutors tasked with increasing their children’s scores. That doesn’t include application essay writers, who coach students on what to write about, edit their writing and, in some cases, write for them. It doesn’t include college coaching firms, which charge up to $40,000 to strategize an applicant’s entire process.
Donations made to schools by the parents of legacy students can essentially buy acceptance letters. Meanwhile, there are some students who don’t have a parent to skim their essay for typos or can’t afford to pay to enroll in a prep course or to repeatedly take a standardized test until their score rises.