“Operation Varsity Blues: The College Admissions Scandal” exposes corruption in society


Photo via Netflix

“Operation Varsity Blues: The College Admissions Scandal” was released on Netflix March 17. The documentary includes reenactments of the conversations that took place during the highly publicized college admissions scandal of 2019. 


This scandal was made public March 12, 2019 and involved wealthy public figures such as Lori Loughlin, Felicity Huffman, Agustin Huneeus Jr. and more well-known celebrities. These parents paid college counselor Rick Singer hundreds of thousands of dollars to get their children into universities through a “side door.” This strategy often involved athletics coaches falsely recruiting these students as players for their team in exchange for donations to their sport and paying someone to take college entrance exams for the kids.


This documentary exposed some of the major corruption high schoolers and their parents face with college admissions. The way Netflix portrayed these parents, it seemed as though sending their children to a university was primarily to add to their status, not necessarily to provide the student with a quality education. The documentary mentioned College Board and ACT statistics that show testers from higher-income families have higher score averages due to access to independent tutors. These parents had the opportunity to spend money on the best tutors and probably wouldn’t have spent as much as they did to cheat their way in. This just reflected their privilege and their children’s lack of motivation to work hard to be accepted into a competitive school.


The process of getting these kids higher test scores took advantage of accommodations for testers with learning disabilities. The parents would get their children diagnosed with some sort of disability that the ACT provides accommodations for, so their children would receive extended time over multiple days. Singer had connections with a proctor who would fly to the testing area, after the student finished testing, he would take the test and input his answers on the answer document. 


With the exposure of the scandal, many students who actually need these accommodations have been concerned as to if this could make it harder for theirs to be approved. For Singer to exploit a program that benefits those with disabilities is upsetting. Bribery is one thing, but taking advantage of accommodations robs the children with disabilities of the benefits they need in order to level the playing field and to be successful on their own.


Overall, this documentary gives the audience a more realistic view of the college admissions scandal without presenting any new information to the public. It provides high school and college students with reassurance for their future. The many college preparatory experts interviewed in this film shared how the school you attend rarely influences your future and that you can receive a good education anywhere. I hope Singer and the parents involved in this scandal are remorseful of their actions and regret taking spots from applicants who truly deserved the acceptance.