Episode 003:
Five Ways to Ethically Approach College Admissions

February 4, 2020 by Ruchi S. Kothari

In today’s episode, I’m going to unfold the biggest college admissions scandal of all times– Operation Varsity Blues, how it affects your college admissions, and Five Ways to Ethically Approach College Admissions. I’ll be revealing the bribery, the cheating, and money laundering– all that and some more in a few. READ THE TRANSCRIPT.

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As you may know last year, the world was exposed to the largest college admissions scandal in the history of higher education, Operation Varsity Blues. The ring leader Rick Singer, CEO of Key Worldwide Foundation, orchestrated a conspiracy involving 50 people and revealed to the world the dark and dirty side of college admissions. Charges included those of bribery, cheating, money laundering, racketeering, and mail and wire fraud.Those arrested included two SAT/ACT administrators, one exam proctor, nine coaches at elite schools, one college administrator and 33 parents. The eight highly-selective and reputable universities that were engulfed in this scandal included USC, Yale, Stanford, Georgetown, Wake Forest, UCLA, UC San Diego and the University of Texas at Austin.

Big Picture Numbers




college emplyees (nine named, two unnamed)


students (3 who didn’t ultimately enroll)


million paid, directly or indirectly, to college employees

To give you the big numbers, The Chronicle of Higher Education states 8 universities were involved, 11 college employees (nine named, two unnamed).  Just a side note, these two unnamed employees must be very high up on the ladder. It also included 45 students (three who didn’t ultimately enroll), with $5.9 million dollars paid directly or indirectly to college employees. That’s a huge heist! 

We are the victims– regular parents and students like you and me– who take an honest and earnest approach to work hard during their high school years and then following the rules to apply to selective colleges, in hopes to get admitted into the college of their dreams!

The question I am often asked by my hardworking students and their parents is, “How do we stand out from other applicants, the honest way, and create impactful applications that help us get admitted to the colleges on our list?” As I continue to bring more content in my podcasts and videos, I’ll reveal more admissions tips, tricks and secrets to empower you or your child to present your “best self” during your college applications process. So, continue listening to my podcast or watching a visual version of this podcast on my YouTube Channel at IvyBound Consulting, and don’t forget to subscribe.

This gets juicy… Continue to hear about the tangled web of deceit, bribery and cheating of Operation Varsity Blues, and what affects it has had on the college admissions process, in this episode, I go on to discuss ways you can still approach your college admissions journey the right way so that you do present your “best self” to the admissions officers at these colleges.

Tune in to listen to or watch the five ways for high-achieving high schoolers to ethically approach the college admissions process and stand out among other applicants are.

Here’s a snapshot of a few things we talked about…

  • [03:27] Subscriber spotlight shoutout
  • [04:59] Today’s episode is sponsorship by the Be Collegebound by IvyBound! Series
  • [06:38] Largest college admissions scandal, Operation Varsity Blues 
  • [07:28] Eight highly-selective colleges involved
  • [07:45] The big numbers of Operation Varsity Blues 
  • [12:50] Examples of how the conspiracy panned out
  • [16:21] Complete list of the wealthy parents, coaches and other individuals involved
  • [17:20] Colleges claiming to be victims
  • [19:39] Coaches involved in Operation Varsity Blues 
  • [21:20] Actress Felicity Huffman charges
  • [22:15] Actress  Lori Loughlin charges
  • [24:59] Real victims of Operation Varsity Blues
  • [27:15] Institutional priorities and their direct impact on your college applications at http://www.ivyboundconsulting.com/002
  • [28:05] Admissions tip
  • [28:25] Reach out if you need guidance. DM Ruchi S. Kothari @ivyboundconsulting on Instagram, or PM at @ivyboundconsulting on Facebook
  • [28:59] Five ways to ethically approach the college admissions process and stand out among other applicants
  • [29:09] Reason #1
  • [29:42] Reason #2
  • [33:11] Free gift for three subscribers!
  • [34:24] Live Office Hours with Ruchi S. Kothari where I answer three real-time college admissions questions
    • [34:37] Office Hour Question #1
    • [35:44] Office Hour Question #2
    • [36:35] Office Hour Question #3

I just know that you’re going to love this episode.

FREE GIFT for 3 Lucky subscribers -
2020-Year Wall Calendar.

In order for you to win, you must:
  • Subscribe to Be Collegebound with IvyBound series
  • Screenshot yourself listening to this podcast or watching the YouTube video
  • Share it on your stories along with your biggest takeaway
  • Tag 3 friends
  • And don’t forget to tag me with @ivyboundconsulting and #ivyboundconsultingpodcast or #ivyboundconsultingYouTubevideo.
Results will be announced in the next podcast. So, stay tuned!

A shoutout to our three lucky winners of the jumbo 2020 dry erase wall calendars.The three winners for last week’s podcast and video episodes are:

  • Katya from Miami, FL
  • Justin from Bronx, N
  • Tara from Fremont, CA

Thank you guys for becoming a subscriber, I hope you find the calender helpful in 2020 goals setting, and wish you the best in your college admissions journey.

At the end of each episode, I offer live office hours with myself, Ruchi S. Kothari, where I answer three college admissions questions that high schoolers or their parents post. Today, I answer the following questions:
  1. Being an Asian American, an Indian, is it better for me to leave out my ethnicity on the college applications, so I’m not stereotyped as an Indian?
  2. How early should I plan out my college visits? 
  3. I’m a sophomore who will be planning my Junior year classes, do you have any recommendations on how to plan out my academic classes?
If you have a burning question, please leave it in the comment box, so I can answer your question next time. I’m so thrilled to help you in any which way I can.

This episode is sponsored by

Today’s episode is sponsored by the Be Collegebound by IvyBound! Series where I guide, advise and support you along your high school to college journey. I have a lot of exciting episodes planned for the year. It’s everything and anything under the sun about college admissions, so please subscribe, rate, and leave me a review. If you have a burning college admissions question that you want me to answer in the Live Office hours with Ruchi S. Kothari, then write the question in the comments below. Please continue to listen to the Be Collegebound with IvyBound podcast or watch the YouTube video series. 

As I bring massive clarity and integrity into the college admissions process, I have helped many high schoolers through their journey with the products and services offered at www.ivyboundconsulting.com. And, I hope to help countless more…

Listener Shoutout

A quick subscriber shoutout to Min-Jun who says:

“Thank you, Ruchi for breaking down not only the early admit rates of the top colleges but actually explaining to me the process of how admissions work. I was totally blown away, especially to learn about tags and hooks. I learned that being Korean-American, I am an overrepresented minority and my application may be looked at differently. I can’t wait for the next episode.”

Min-Jun from Boston, MA

Awh, Thank you so much. I’m so glad you found my previous episode informative and resourceful. Min-jun, being an overrepresented minority, doesn’t mean you can’t get it your dream college. Keep tuning in for more admissions tips, tricks and secrets so that you can make your admissions strategy and applications so strong that you are admitted!

If you have something to say, I’d love to hear from you. Subscribe to my podcast or YouTube series and leave me a comment. I enjoy reading each and every one of them. 

Every other week I release an episode as a podcast. And the following week, the same episode as a YouTube video So I encourage you to go check it out if you need a visual example of the topic being discussed. You can find my YouTube channel by searching up Ivybound Consulting. Feel free to check out all of my podcasting videos. And, please don’t forget to subscribe to the Be CollegeBound with IvyBound podcast and YouTube series, and leave me a review in the comments. Thanks so much.

Join me for the next episode where I discuss how to best choose your academic classes for your high school years so that you depict yourself as a competitive candidate for admissions.

I’m going to leave you with a funny question to answer today:

Let’s say you had all the money like these wealthy parents involved in Operation Varsity Blues. If you didn’t get caught, would you resort to similar measures to get yourself or your child admitted to their dream college? 

Comment YES, NO, Or MAYBE in the comment box on http://www.ivyboundconsulting.com/003. These answers are for entertainment purposes only, no names will be revealed.

If you’re wondering what I would say, I’ll give you my answer as a parent…. No, that’s just not my cup of tea, even if I didn’t get caught.

Ok, I hope you enjoyed this episode and thanks so much for tuning in. Bye for now! 

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I would be really grateful if you left me a review over on iTunes, too. Those reviews help other people find my podcast, enable me to answer a burning college admissions question you may have, and they’re also fun for me to go in and read. Just click here to review, select “Ratings and Reviews” and “Write a Review” and let me know what your favorite part of the podcast is. Thank you! Be Collegebound with IvyBound!

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Hey guys, welcome to the episodes Be Collegebound with IvyBound! I’m your host, Ruchi S. Kothari. I’m super excited that you’ve joined me.

Listen to my most recent podcast or watch my video to pick up admissions tips, tricks, and secrets that I provide to get admitted into the college of your dreams, and create a future that you would love. Do you want to get into your dream school? Of course, you do. 


Then, stay tuned…

Download this invaluable resource!

How the Coronavirus Affects Your College Admissions

COVID-19 or the Coronavirus outbreak has impacted our daily lives. I hope you and your family are safe and healthy. As schools have closed and our children are forced to learn virtually, the education system has not escaped this disruption.

Hi, My name is Ruchi S. Kothari and I am a college consultant. I’d like the opportunity to discuss Five Tips your child can do to remain competitive in their college admissions journey as the higher education arena is currently in flux due to the Coronavirus. High school seniors are the ones most affected, as their application cycle in the Fall will be directly impacted and may prove to be consequently different from other cycles.

Simply, signup for a FREE 15-minute conversation with me. Grab your coffee (or any other drink you prefer) and let’s chat.

Be Collegebound with IvyBound,

Sign up for the most current news on how the Coronavirus is affecting your college admissions, trends, and tips!

Hey guys, welcome to the episodes Be Collegebound with IvyBound! I’m your host, Ruchi S. Kothari. I’m super excited that you’ve joined me.

Listen to my most recent podcast or watch my video to pick up admissions tips, tricks, and secrets that I provide to get admitted into the college of your dreams, and create a future that you would love. Do you want to get into your dream school? Of course, you do. 


Then, stay tuned…

Download this invaluable resource!