Cheating scandal: How many college admissions did rich, famous buy out from under us?

Has anything ever rocked elite colleges, or poached parents to a parboil, quite like the massive college admissions cheating scandal did in its first 24 hours?

And the smoke has only begun to cascade from people’s ears.

Parents who’ve scrimped and saved and cajoled their young to study into the night in hopes of sending them to elite universities have learned a painful lesson: The lifestyles of the rich and famous have been granting children of privilege special, under-the-table, illegal entry to those same colleges.

Those parents of modest means now know their own children may have been wrongfully, cynically denied a seat at such revered and hard-to-enter institutions as Yale, Georgetown and, yes, the University of Texas at Austin. Even well-to-do families who played by the rules may have been cheated out of a college admission. Yet this mostly hurts those for whom college may be the greatest dream and highest financial hurdle of their lives.

The scandal arrived home with a sudden thud when it was learned that Fort Worth investor Bill McGlashan and former TCU, now UT, tennis coach Michael Center were among some 50 school officials, wealthy parents and others across the country charged by the U.S. Department of Justice.

The alleged perpetrators, the government says, variously cheated on entrance exams or bribed college athletic officials into certifying the wealthy’s children as athletic recruits when they were anything but.

In addition to possibly conning other students out of a fair shot at a higher education, any alleged conspirator at a university now is forcing that institution to dig through records to ascertain how many fraudulent admissions they’ve doled out.

“It’s important for every university to go back and re-evaluate and study their admissions processes,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott told reporters in the shadow of UT.

In other words, more time at UT and other universities taken away from their primary mission — which is to educate students who are there to learn, and who truly deserve to be there.

Unlike actress Lori Loughlin’s and husband Mossimo Giannulli’s two daugthers, who reportedly rode a $500,000 bribe into the University of Southern California on the pretense of being competitive rowers. Daughter Olivia Wade — a well-paid “internet influencer” — proceeded to pitch products from her dorm room while admitting she was only there for “game day” and partying, and that “I don’t know how much of school I’m gonna attend.”

Whatever amount that is, it’s unarguably more than some other, more deserving student’s attendance her presence precluded. It’s sickening to see what happens when even priceless commodities such as a college education come decidedly too easy for those of means.

When the scheme’s mastermind, William “Rick” Singer, reportedly said in a wiretapped conversation that he’d put McGlashan’s son’s face on a punter to get him into the University of Southern California, McGlashan allegedly responded, “Pretty funny. The way the world works these days is unbelievable.”

Unbelievable yes, funny no. Funny is Rodney Dangerfield’s wealthy character in the movie “Back to School,” in which he bribes his way into college and then pays author Kurt Vonnegut to write a paper on himself.

This real-life fraud, on the other hand, is a tragic tale with untold numbers of innocent victims.