BRAUN: Cheat in an Ivy-League school

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BRAUN: Cheat in an Ivy-League school


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A new 2019 college admissions scandal film features very wealthy people behaving badly and cheating to get their kids to America’s best schools.

Any parent who has ever lost sleep due to a child’s admission to college will want to see this documentary.

Operation Varsity Blues: the college admissions scandal from director Chris Smith is a deep dive into the criminal activity involved in making sure that his offspring reflects the social status of mom and dad by attending “the right” college.

Smith directed the television series King tiger and the documentary Guys, so he knows how to attract an audience and never let go. The film mixes news footage and interviews with those involved, as well as re-enactments; the actor dialogue is an actual conversation taken from FBI wiretaps.

The competition for so-called Ivy League schools in America has spawned an entire industry designed to give your child an edge. You hire a tutor to improve their standardized test scores, enroll them in obscure sports (fencing, archery, dressage) that elite schools will appeal to, have them volunteer with Mother Teresa and ask for it. their a coach to guide the whole process.

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Or you can just pay enough to get them in.

Do it in an acceptable manner with a massive donation to the college of your choice. The $ 45 million figure appears in the film. Tax deductible!

Or you can do it the underhanded and cheaper way – under a million dollars! – which is what Operation Varsity Blues is about.

When the college corruption scandal erupted, the media focused on the celebrities involved, especially husband and wife actors Felicity Huffman and William H. Macy, and actor Lori Loughlin and her husband, designer Massimo. Giannulli.

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This film casts its net much wider, exposing captains of industry and media, lawyers, hedge fund types and all the usual suspects.

The central character is Rick Singer, who started out as a college athletic trainer and education consultant and ended up pleading guilty to racketeering conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, and other annoyances.

He awaits the conviction.

Singer appears as a lone wolf and a workaholic. As a former college sports coach himself, he was familiar with the world inhabited by coaches and athletic directors from top schools.

His schemes ranged from simply lying about ethnicity on a college application to take advantage of any affirmative action considerations, for example – to complex schemes simulating athletic prowess, according to the film.

Lies and photoshopping turned ordinary children into skilled athletes at their behest, and a sizable bribe to the athletic director got a place in a top school.

On the academic side, Singer had a smart way to change the scores on standardized college entrance exams.

Like many big scams, the college entrance scam ultimately came to light by sheer luck.

In the end, Singer turned on his clients, agreeing to cooperate and even wearing a thread for incriminating statements, the film says.

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Like his clients, he was clearly prepared to do whatever it took to gain an advantage in the situation.

Operation Varsity Blues doesn’t overlook the role of colleges in all this hysteria over entry – noting that schools bask in the fierce competition for entry, and also allow loopholes for the very rich.

As someone put it in the movie, the scandal actually makes schools more desirable than ever, if people risk jail time for bringing their children in.

And the movie shows the stress on kids waiting to hear about college admission with real footage of some breaking down and crying when they aren’t accepted.

“The enormous pressure to go to a private college or an Ivy school is a kind of symbolic capital,” said an American educator who wished to remain anonymous.

«Tthere are a lot of good schools – that’s what people lose sight of. It is about insecurity and the desire to move forward. You want to get into a higher school because the education is great, but you are not cheating. “

Operation Varsity Blues is available on Netflix now.

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