For what it’s worth, here in the iSteve comments section is a comment from “Former affiliate/associate of Singer’s company:”
Steve, I have read and admired your blog for a while but have never commented. In a twist of fate that is wildly coincidental, however, I am sufficiently moved to report that, well, until yesterday, I did a lot of work for Singer’s company; I know, personally, many of the people named in the complaint – the parents, students. I have been to their homes.
I am not going to get into detail about what I know, though I should say that I know a hell of a lot more than has been reported. I will also say that, with a few minor exceptions, the families were exceedingly gracious to me, as were other staff members. And that the pay (in most instances) was quite good, and that Rick Singer and the other employees were (barring the occasional bit of friction, which is to be expected at any company) more or less decent to me. Singer’s alleged tendency toward corruption apparently did not extend to screwing over the people who worked for him – though it could be that he was scared that I, or someone else, might try to get him in trouble.
I wish to do a couple of things. The first is to point to an error of fact in your post. The students who got in through the athletic “side door,” *never intended to actually play sports in college*. You are simply wrong there. As the complaint makes clear, once they get in, they just join the general student body, attend the regular student – that is, the non-athlete – orientation, etc. No one, apparently, is going to come hunt you down and ask you to play – particularly if the coach was in on the scam of admitting you. When a parent would inquire about whether this would raise any suspicions, Singer would simply tell them to claim that the student had been injured.
The complaint – the articles about the scandal – refer to the “side door.” But in fact we helped students to get into school via any number of side doors, not all of them criminal. For example. few people might know this, but your chances of getting into a given school can be greater or lesser depending upon the intended major you list on your application. Obviously, there are instances in which a student has to apply *to a specific* school, like USC’s Marshall or Viterbi. So you’d better not even try to get into those schools unless you have a very impressive resume.
But there are also instances in which simply announcing that you intend major in, say, economics at the College of Arts and Sciences or whatever will decrease your odds of getting in as against, say, announcing that you intend to major in sociology, or psychology, or religious studies. Because most students today are drones and automata with little to no genuine intellectual curiosity or interest in the glories of Western civilization, they, for the most part, want to major in some type of econ, business, or computer science. So a lot of what I did was help students to present a picture of themselves – through essays, extracurriculars, etc. – in which they could plausibly claim to want to major in some unpopular yet to me (I am humanist), quite interesting major like gender studies, philosophy, or soc or psych. Once they were admitted, they’d simply begin taking whatever classes they wanted to, and then, as a sophomore, declare the major they really wanted to major in.
If the student was a guy, we’d have him apply as an intended psych major, because psych departments are heavily female. And if it was a girl, we’d choose soc, because soc is relaively male-dominated (although, of course, not nearly so much as something like engineering is). On occasion, we’d have a girl with high math scores apply to a STEM major, and work the hell out of the girl-in-STEM angle. This would often work, provided she did have some credentials.
There were any number of possibilities along these lines, and I could give you many examples of this lesser “side door” practice from among the students named in the complaint.
Which brings me to my next point, which is about scamming the affirmative action system.
You have asserted any number of times on this blog that whites tend to be pretty honest when it comes to not lying about their race, the better to acquire Intersectional Pokemon points.
In fact – in my experience with Singer’s company, at least – they do it all the time. I could tell you many, many stories. Many times, I have seen white students apply as black and gay. And I have helped the children of white billionaires get into Ivy League schools by claiming to have some obscure ethnic identity, with “underprivileged” members of which groups they’d claim to have done all manner of heroic humanitarian work.
Let it be said that whites are probably not as honest about these things as you think.
Singer’s company worked with many hundreds of kids each year, only a small proportion of whom employed the $500,000 side-door technique.
Much more common was the side door of intending to pursue a less selective major – because, like any other bureaucracy, these departments are self-perpetuating institutions that seek to advance their interests, and, as such, need to enroll students; major and minor but at any rate unfalsifiable embellishments (claiming to have been involved with one or another extracurricular activity that, in fact, one was not involved with); and playing the affirmative-action card – even when one was white and had no legitimate claim to belong to a given identity group.
I will say, finally, that in most cases, the system worked. The kids who got into Ivies were generally very intelligent and accomplished students with high test scores; in cases where the grades, scores, and activities were not up to par, they didn’t get in, affirmative action fraud and cake-major selection notwithstanding. The regressed-to-the-mean-fuck-up children of plutocrats, on the other hand, usually ended up at TCU or ASU, which, if, anything, is only a notch or two above where they properly belong. (Granted, many poor kids of similar ability and accomplishment are not headed for college *at all*, but that is another matter. Part of Singer’s appeal was that he’d get your kid in at least somewhere, although anyone with two brain cells to rub together could probably manage to finagle this task on their own.)
At Singer’s company, I saw any number of highly accomplished students with SAT scores of over 1500 get rejected from, say, Dartmouth, much to their chagrin. Their parents, I imagine, were particularly chagrined, having heard so much about Singer’s miracle-working.
The kids we’re reading about in the news are a select few, whose parents were willing to shell out for the deluxe “side door” treatment. And, anyway, the supply of this is of course limited. As one of the coaches said in the complaint – “I have to reserve a few spaces for actual water polo players.”