Welcome to the College Prep Confidential Podcast
Nov. 18, 2019

CPC Episode #29 - Varsity Blues Scandal and the Most Important Skill To Learn In College

Are you disgusted yet? The Varsity Blues scandal has people questioning if college selection is rigged. The scandal teaches us a valuable lesson for those of us who follow the rules like: Why college reputations are in the toilet right now and how to...

Are you disgusted yet? The Varsity Blues scandal has people questioning if college selection is rigged. The scandal teaches us a valuable lesson for those of us who follow the rules like:

  • Why college reputations are in the toilet right now and how to capitalize on it
  • What skill you should master from the Varsity Blues scandal
  • 3 steps to building your social circle and reach
  • One book you must read to build your empire

Back in the Saddle for Episode 29, and I’ve got one question for you… Are you disgusted yet? The Varsity Blues scandal has jaws flapping and people are more upset than people at a Bingo hall when somebody yells out “Bingo!” The Varsity Blues scandal has everybody asking, “Is college rigged?” And the answer? Yes, for some people… However, there’s one lesson you can takeaway from this scandal, and it will help you starting now for the rest of your life. So let’s get started with Episode 29, entitled, Varsity Blues and the Most Important Skill You’ll Learn For College...

Let’s kick it off with an article From the NY Times...

  • A teenage girl who did not play soccer magically became a star soccer recruit at Yale. Cost to her parents: $1.2 million.
  • A high school boy eager to enroll at the University of Southern California was falsely deemed to have a learning disability so he could take his standardized test with a complicit proctor who would make sure he got the right score. Cost to his parents: at least $50,000.
  • A student with no experience rowing won a spot on the U.S.C. crew team after a photograph of another person in a boat was submitted as evidence of her prowess. Her parents wired $200,000 into a special account.

It was the Justice Department’s largest-ever college admissions prosecution, a sprawling investigation that involved 200 agents nationwide and resulted in charges against 50 people in six states.

The authorities said Rick Singer used The Key and its nonprofit arm, Key Worldwide Foundation, which is based in Newport Beach, Calif., to help students cheat on their standardized tests, and to pay bribes to the coaches who could get them into college with fake athletic credentials.

Mr. Singer used The Key as a front, allowing parents to funnel money into an account without having to pay any federal taxes.

Parents paid Mr. Singer about $25 million from 2011 until February 2019 to bribe coaches and university administrators to designate their children as recruited athletes, which effectively ensured their admission, according to the indictment.

Mr. Singer fabricated athletic “profiles” of students to submit with their applications, which contained teams the students had not played on and honors they had not won. Some parents supplied “staged photographs of their children engaged in athletic activity,” according to the authorities; Mr. Singer’s associates also photoshopped the faces of the applicants onto images of athletes found on the internet.

All said and done, 51 people were indicted...

Are you disgusted yet? Oh, not yet, how about this from the NY Times article...

Universities were quick to respond to the charges on Tuesday. According to the indictment, Stanford University’s head sailing coach, John Vandemoer, took financial contributions to the sailing program from an intermediary in exchange for agreeing to recommend two prospective students for admission.

Stanford said Tuesday that Mr. Vandemoer had been fired. The University of Texas at Austin released a statement Tuesday saying that its men’s tennis coach, Michael Center, has been placed on leave. And at U.S.C., Donna Heinel, a top athletic director, and Jovan Vavic, the men’s and women’s water polo coach, were terminated. Ms. Heinel received more than $1.3 million in bribes and Mr. Vavic about $250,000 according to federal prosecutors.

So exams, athletics, effort... none of it mattered. instead, a check to athletic directors, coaches got them recommendations and a rubber stamp straight into the program... even though they weren't athletes!

Varsity Blues scandal - latest updates...

Eleven defendants, including actress Lori Loughlin, were charged Tuesday by a grand jury in Boston with conspiring to commit federal program bribery by paying employees at the University of Southern California to admit the defendants' children as athletic recruits or other favored admissions categories. 

It gets better...

The wealthy business people and celebrities facing new charges include Full Houseactress Loughlin and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli. They are accused of paying a $500,000 bribe to officials at USC to get their two daughters admitted as recruits for the university's crew team. Neither of them had even practiced the sport.

And what did they get? A slap on the wrist...

Meanwhile, Desperate Housewives actress Felicity Huffman started serving a 14-day term in prison last week after entering a guilty plea in the scandal.

Higher Education seems like a rigged game where the only winner is the Colleges and Universities. I mean, Harvard has a $40 billion dollar endowment fund. But students still need to take out loans?

Will Chamberlain - Lawyer. Editor-in-Chief of @HumanEvents.:

In any other industry, if a company charged $250,000 and left a good number of their (teenage!) customers no better off than when they started, we would investigate them for fraud.

What Does it All mean?

The scandal ranged from faking athletic credentials to altering test scores for loottttts of money. So the question becomes, for the other people out there, what's next. Can this be fixed? Do regular students have a chance?

But fear not... You can get one-up on them. And here's how. Admissions officers have admitted, even though they weren't involved in the scandal, of how bad this reflects on the entire college industry. And how more of the American public is calling the college admission process a "black box not to be trusted."

So, how do you use this to your advantage. Well, colleges must restore their reputation. And to do that, they'll need to start admitting more people on merit, and respecting the application process. With their backs and reputations against the wall, they'll be more apt to negotiate and work with you if you have the grades and the skills.

Colleges will also have to scrutinize who they hire, and now review students who are accepted. This is a good thing. Now, do I think that everything will magically be perfect overnight, and the admissions process will be clean all around? No, not a chance. But this scandal will swing the pendulum back to some semblance of fairness.

You'll see more compliance, more reviews, and more standardization of the acceptance process. And we'll make a return back to grades, talent, and effort, which will put the rest of people back in the driving seat.

2 things in life:

  1. Things you can control
  2. Things out of  your control

Focus on #1, don't stress on #2. From the beginning of time, now, and in the future, people have been bribing, stealing, and scheming. It's human nature.

What can you control?

  • Your study habits
  • Your work ethic
  • Your attitude
  • Your frame of mind

What I'm suggesting here is to keep working hard and getting better each day. Yes, some of the game is rigged, and will continue to be rigged, but if you want to go to college, you need to play around this. And you do this with one skill I consider invaluable throughout the rest of your life... Networking. The people caught up in this scandal had one advantage besides cash... a powerful network. Even if you aren't rich, even if you aren't powerful, the people at the upper echelons who go to these schools rely on networking. It's like oxygen, you can't exist without it.

The Power of Networking

Learn to network. Learn to make contacts. Many of these people in the scandal had connections. And this is how the process started. For you, who follows the rules, building your network will help you find more opportunities. And while you might not be a millionaire, your networking will open doors for you previously unreachable. And this is one of the secrets of the people who got pinched in the Varsity Blues scandal. They had a big network. so what you do, is take their secrets, and do it legally. 

For additional reading, I recommend a book called "Never Eat Alone" by Keith Ferrazzi. Keith has turned networking into an almost Olympic event. This book will lay out steps and the mindset necessary to build your network. If you remember nothing else about this episode, remember this:

"Your network is your net worth"

Ferrazzi gives 3 lessons on optimizing your networking:

  1. Relationships aren’t like cake, they’re like muscles. You have to use them for them to grow. You do this be taking some time to connect with people on social media AND in person. I made this mistake earlier in life... I connected with people heavily on digital and very little in person. One in person connection can carry the weight of 100 digital connections.
  2. You must build your network long before you need it. There's an old saying I learned years ago... "Keep your antenna up." And what this means is, anybody who strikes your interest, at any point in time, make it a point to have a quick conversation and learn more about them. And if you think it's a good idea, connect with them. Even if the connection doesn't benefit you now. because chances are, it will in the future. It's the same logic as planting trees now. You'll benefit from them years from now.
  3. How you spend time with people is much more important than how much time you spend with them? Suppose you connect with somebody new, and then the next time you hang out, you're sitting on your phone most of the time. Is this really a strong connection? This is where the how comes in. Find out what the other person likes to do, and try to spend some time doing this. Here's an example, I met a guy on email for the baseball website I run. This is years back. And anyway, the guy was really into Elvis photos. Framed Elvis photos. I'm not an Elvis fan, but I agreed to visit him and check out his Elvis photo collection. Anyway, while I was out there, he told me about the various photos and some of the backstory behind them. I asked a few questions, and discovered his deep passion about the music. He was so moved by this gesture that after I left, he eventually promoted my baseball website to 4 different media outlets. I never asked him to do this. He did it on his own, willingly. And it all started with taking an interest in something I never thought about before.

And this is the lesson that you can take away from this scandal. Take the anger you feel from this scandal, and redirect it into your college prep. Redirect it into your studies, your networking, and your negotiation for financial aid. Redirect it into building your empire. I understand the anger. I understand the disbelief.  But take this all in stride, because opportunities will present themself if you put yourself in the right spot.

So what's next? Let's start with building your network. I've got 15,000 LinkedIn connections, so when you connect with me, you'll get access to the rest of my network. My network includes college alumni, CEO’s, business owners. So let's connect and start building your network. Go to cpcshow.com. That's cpc show.com. And my LinkedIn profile is on there.

Also, I have access to a few people in my network of expert college prep planners. And if you want a $250 college prep strategy session absolutely free, then you call 1-800-234-2933, that's 1-800-234-2933, and you request a free college prep strategy session.

Thank you for listening, and I'll see you next week.