In 2014, Rick Singer released two slim volumes to help students land a spot at their dream colleges. “Getting In: Gaining Admission to Your College of Choice” and “Getting In Personal Brands: A Personal Brand Is Essential to Gaining Admission to the College of Your Choice,” were published by Singer’s organization the Key Worldwide.
The books probably seemed at the time like a natural extension of his business. And, given his excellent track record gaining students access to top universities, he clearly had a lot of wisdom to share.
Or so it seemed. Perhaps readers should have judged Singer’s books by their covers: The volumes feature a photo of the author’s bespectacled face, half of which is shrouded in darkness. As it turns out, according to federal authorities, Singer relied on a number of illegal activities — from bribery to cheating on standardized tests — to get the children of wealthy clients into prestigious universities. Among the dozens charged Tuesday were actresses Lori Loughlin (accused of paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to get her daughters into the University of Southern California under the guise that they were crew team recruits) and Felicity Huffman (who allegedly paid $15,000 to have her daughter’s SAT corrected).
Whether Loughlin’s daughter, social media influencer Olivia Jade, became a brand because of Singer’s second volume is up for debate.
As is often the case when an author finds himself in the crosshairs of the news cycle, online reviewers are having a field day rating the books.
There’s a fairly stark contrast between the Amazon reviews written before Tuesday and after. (Amazon founder and CEO Jeffrey P. Bezos owns The Washington Post.) For example one reviewer said, “Rick Singer has singularly helped our family get into five different colleges. And helped us to define our brands and achieve our passions along the way. This book is a must — allow Rick Singer to wave his magic pixy dust all over your life. You will be changed for the better.” (Her name does not show up on the indictment list, if you’re wondering.)
While only a handful of comments have popped up this week, they fall into two camps: Those who earnestly want to warn consumers that Singer is, in fact, a crook (“This guy is a criminal,” reads a one-star review. “He was just arrested for running a scam to get your kid into a fancy college with bribes.”) and those who want to have a little fun at the author’s expense.
“Forget everything that admissions counselor and the FBI told you about getting in to Harvard!” reads a four-star review. A three-star review titled simply “Meh” reads, “I found his chapter ‘Who to Bribe and How Much to Pay Them’ a little dry. Reads like a spreadsheet. On the other hand, his chapter ‘The Hidden Dangers of Entitlement’ is spot on.” And one reviewer wrote that they were looking forward to the sequel, “Getting Out, of federal prison.”
Singer is working on that: He pleaded guilty to four charges and has been cooperating with investigators in the hopes of getting a lenient sentence. Whether he’ll write about it remains to be seen.