“I think it is despicable that the parents put their kids through this," she said. "They will be branded as not smart enough or capable of getting in on their own. This will never be able to be erased from their record.”
Another tactic Singer and his clients employed was bribing college athletics coaches to falsely name prospective students as athletic recruits. Students were staged to be recruits for soccer, football, tennis and rowing teams across the country so that their applications could be pushed forward at institutions such as Georgetown, Yale and USC.
Most famously, Lori Loughlin, an American actress known for her role as Aunt Becky on "Full House," allegedly paid $500,000 to get both of her daughters admitted into USC as staged recruits on the rowing team. Loughlin's daughter Olivia Jade, a Youtuber and influencer, faced particular criticism amidst the crisis as she was quoted saying that she was more interested in the parties at USC than her classes.
Sophomore Fiona Aronson, a former member of UM’s rowing team, was deeply upset when she heard of how athletic positions for her sport were being used to admit undeserving students.
“Getting recruited to a Division 1 school for any sport is a long, hard process,” said Aronson, who spent all of high school training for three hours a day, six days a week seeking recruitment. “I think that being a student-athlete is something that people work hard towards, and it does not deserve to be taken advantage of.”
Donna Shalala, congresswoman and former president of UM, said something like this could never occur within the UM athletics department.
"That is ridiculous," she said. "At a place like the University of Miami, it doesn't make sense for that to happen."
Others are neither shocked nor upset by the college admissions scandal. An anonymous UM freshman said that those with privilege are obligated to use it.
“The world is made for rich people," she said. "If everybody’s cheating and you’re not, you’re behind the curve. Take Olivia Jade’s parents. They realized their kid was dumb as bricks and did what they had to do to get their kid into college however they could. That’s good parenting.”
Many successful students and prominent people come from schools outside of the coveted Ivy League, which begs the question for many: Is this all worth it?
“Parents are overly concerned with name brands and fear their child will be a failure without that brand,” said Melissa Leder, a guidance counselor at G.W. Hewlett High in Hewlett, New York. “It’s a function of perceived social status. Some of these so-called 'advisors' use illegitimate means, and colleges are only too willing to turn a blind eye. It’s the students who suffer in the end.”
The parents charged in this scandal are facing the possibility of hefty fines and decades in prison. Singer, the main man behind the crime, faces up to 65 years in prison and a fine of $1.25 million. Many UM students said they are glad that these parents are facing punishment for their actions.
“People work so hard to be able to attend college," said Lexi Walker, a freshman double majoring in biology and Spanish. "The parents were taking opportunities away from the students who really deserved it.”
Devin Foster, a freshman majoring in political science put it more simply.
“This really just shows that colleges are more worried about money than they are about us and education,” he said.
Veronika Seider, Abigail Washer, Heidi Steinegger, Suzanne Rieger, Isabella Didio, Carolyn Pease, Charles Gonzalez and Kayson Davis contributed to this reporting.