‘Varsity Blues’ Netflix doc shines light on college corruption


Actress Lori Loughlin participates in admission scandal in order to get her daughter, Olivia Jade, into USC.

After the scandal that captured all the headlines in 2019, the documentary “Operation Varsity Blues: The College Admissions Scandal,” gave a deeper account of Rick Singer and his methods to get rich families into prestigious colleges. After documenting how Singer and these families successfully cheated the system, producers suggest that the system ultimately cheated itself. College admissions has become one of the most nail biting processes for students who have dedicated their entire academic career to getting into their dream college, only for an over privileged teen to take their spot undeservingly. 

The documentary tells the story behind Singer’s scam by reenacting the taped phone calls between him, his wealthy clients, and collegiate coaches. His services are referred to as the “side door” method. This is when parents pay him thousands of dollars to make their child seem like successful athletes that have received scholarships from top ten schools. He calls this method the “side door” because it offers students a guarantee of admission and it is less expensive than making large donations to the school, which he considered the “back door” method. Photoshopped photos, fake standardized test scores, and thousands of dollars must go into this process in order for it to work. Despite its effectiveness, Singer’s “side door” method was obviously illegal. 

What viewers quickly realize is that none of this could be possible without a corrupt and unjust system. Singer got these students into the universities that were desperate for money and was willing to take “donations.” The education system, unfortunately, is still strongly based on family income. Singer manipulated the system that he knew had holes in it and that would accept money over morals. The documentary does a great job at highlighting higher class privilege and how it influences our country as a whole. 

After months of trials, 50 people, including college staff members and parents, were prosecuted and sentenced to months in prision. While many of them were sentenced, Singer still awaits his long anticipated sentences. Not only will these parents need to live with their criminal record, but they will need to live with the evidence that they manipulated the college system because they did not believe in their own children in the first place.