Fascinated by college admissions


Letís shove all the this and that and specifics and reports to the side. Letís just get right to the part that makes my brain turn into a bit of a fireworks display, featuring mini explosions along with skull-rattling dazed confusion.

How is it possible, if you happen to be someone with five hundred thousand dollars to spend, that you cannot figure out a legal way to get your kid accepted at a college of choice?


Fireworks-worthy-explosions at a level of mind-boggling.

Even if we have to cross into some sneaky sneaky, wink wink, two parties understand the never stated though somewhat wiggling a toe in the pool of ethical scenarios, I canít wrap my head around how someone with money has trouble figuring out how to approach a college or university in such a way that the FBI doesnít arch an eyebrow and begin to wonder what might be going on.

Depending on the schools involved, major university tuition is somewhere in the range of $50,000-plus per year. USC? Estimates place the current year at slightly more that $55,000. Stanford, right now, clears $51,000. Providence College, for a different coast comparison that shows we are in the same cost neighborhood all over the country, about $47,000.

This is a tough figure to pin down though. Books and a place to live can send those figures into a completely different orbit. School supplies, student fees, travel expenses to get home for the holidaysÖ it all adds up.

We can round things off and still have an impressive numberó$50,000óthat works for our essay.

Now, letís say it just so happens that Iím a minor celebrity. (I know. I know. Deal with it and stay with the story.) Minor celebrity. Not necessarily on the paparazzi must-list or building a stable of stalkers. Not making double-digit millions for every movie and better than having to audition for most roles. But I am known and trusted enough that my name might even get a green light for some lower budget projects. And, Iím not going to need to find any other employment to pay any bills down the road if I prefer to stay in the house.

Doesnít that level of notoriety sound like I should be able to arrange a meeting with some university administrative uppity-up? And if so, wouldnít it be equally likely that if Iím not looking for on-campus housing and willing to pay perhaps two or three times the recognized annual tuition rate, that I could navigate a discussion in a way that gets my child accepted?

Seriously. My words:

ďHi. Thanks for seeing me. You know, Iíve always been a tremendous admirer of Insert The Name University. Love the location, love the campus, and you must be proud of some of the community projects your exceptional students get involved in providing. As you know, the arts are important to me. All of this is why Iím hoping you can lead me down the path of setting up some sort of annual scholarship fund. Maybe an endowment type of arrangement built on a half million dollars to start? Oh yeah, and while weíre talking, it turns out my daughter has always wanted to come here to Insert The Name U. Yeah. Sheís a high school junior now. Getting ready to start that college search with her. Do you know anyone we can speak with about a campus tour?Ē

Now, yes, I mentioned sneaky sneaky and wink wink earlier. Absolutely, some of that would come through in a meeting where this kind of a conversation moves along. Absolutely, many options come with a toe in the pool of ethical scenarios (if not an entire leg under the water). And for those of you wondering about the half millionÖ well, in the only time Iíll mentioned actual names in this article, Lori Loughlin is facing allegations of using $500,000 to get her daughters into USC. So thatís where the pricing bar is being set.

But letís hit the pause button for a second. I can hear people entering e-mail account passwords, while muttering about how itís no wonder I donít have an open comment section on my web site. Some are rolling eyes and wondering what legal descriptions would be involved because there have to be laws focused on my celebrity scholarship plan. This and more is way off the path Iím looking to wind along. I did not start this essay as a way of examining celebrity privilege as the central theme. Nor is it a treatise on money overcoming obstacles, with a section on vast wealth overcoming any obstacle. Iím not asking you to view things from a perspective of breaking laws and such. InsteadÖ

If you were in a position where you had the ability to investigate certain opportunities for kids while spending a large amount in the process, why the heck violate federal laws and create falsified athletic scholarships? And, if in that position, how can you not come up with other approaches that just work.

Different way of looking at it: If the kid isnít going to row on the crew team anyway, does it matter if you offered to pay double or triple the annual tuition cost for four or five years to get doors opened? The tuition, as I noted, is around fifty thousand per year. I canít help but wonder, if you were able to secure meetings with admissions and financial aid leaders of a school and in some fashion provided some arrangement that equated to you being willing (and able) to pay one hundred thousand per year, that someone wouldnít being looking into ways to help make that happen.

Because what escapes me is that weíre discussing thousands upon thousands (upon thousands) of dollars. And itís not the idea of privilege thatís in play, itís how crazy do things have to be for it to make sense in organizing how those monies will be used when the following is involved? (Yes, yes, my words):

ďWeíre going to send the funds to accounts in foreign countries and bring it back in using non-profit agencies for donations that the IRS wonít be as likely to be alarmed by. Then, your kids that have never been on any type of boat will apply for the crew team at the school.Ē

Do we need to go on with the planning of this operation from this point? And if so, sound the alarm because we have idiots in motion. Really. One report I saw outlined that as an action shot to accompany the athletic scholarship application, a picture of an applicant on one of those home-gym rowing machines was used. And if thatís accurate, thenÖ wellÖ wow.

There are hundreds of branches on this particular tree, so to speak. Plenty of reasons to be ticked off. Plenty of areas worthy of investigation and consideration. I get why people are angry and upset, and also see where the credibility of so many schools and processes are in question. I;m asking for you to step away from many of those, even if they are more significant in long term importance.

For me, at this moment and in one particular way, I canít help but muttering ďidiotsĒ while shaking my head. Because, for lack of a nicer summary, I donít know how you have the money to explore so many options and still mess things up this horrendously.

This is going to sound naïveÖ but letís do thisÖ in my opinion, if an attempt to get a crew scholarship involves a photograph of said athlete using a device on a concrete floor with no water in sight, then we may have a scenario where you arenít using your five hundred thousand to its best ability.


If you have any comments or questions, please e-mail me at Bob@inmybackpack.com