I Went to Olivia Jade's High School, But I Earned My College Acceptance

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

At the top of Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles sits Marymount High School. Bordering the Bel Air Country Club, the prestigious all-girls institution is known for its elite education as well as its celebrity alumnae, like Kim Kardashian, Kourtney Kardashian, and Olivia Jade Giannulli. Yes, that Olivia Jade, who is at the center of the college admissions scandal that's been dominating the news since the story broke last week. 

The school’s mission statement (one that I learned to practice as a student myself before graduating in 2016) is to “empower women to live lives of consequence as ethical leaders with a global perspective and an unshakable commitment to the common good.” This mantra made the scheme all the more shocking. I sat in the same college counselor’s office as Olivia Jade, whose parents — actress Lori Loughlin and designer Mossimo Giannulli — allegedly paid for her acceptance to the University of Southern California, with a very different experience.  

While Marymount has had its fair share of celebrity students, the majority of classes are made up of young women willing to pour hours of work into academics and extracurriculars with the common goal of (honestly) getting into their dream colleges. I can’t speak to Olivia Jade’s experience at Marymount, but I can tell you that while she was reportedly paying to have achievements added to her records, I was hustling to earn them.

Students begin participating in an intense college counseling program during their junior year at Marymount. Counselors used a personalized website service called Naviance that would compare a student’s grade point average to other students who have been accepted, rejected, or waitlisted at the colleges and universities that interested them. From there, the college counselor would make recommendations based on what they found to be best for you.

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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As a student with a 4.0 grade point average, I decided on a medium-sized university in the Midwest with strong academics and research programs. I was set on this as my first choice, though my college counselor had other plans for me. He said I wouldn’t get into that school, and recommended I submit an early application to Harvard. The obsession with prestige and status — which might have encouraged a parent to pay for their child to get into USC instead of attending Arizona State University — was clear. With Marymount’s high matriculation rate to Harvard, it was clear that another acceptance (my acceptance) would help the school’s marketing campaign and image.

Going against my counselor's recommendations and ignoring his doubts, I went with my first choice (and got in). Knowing that the only part of the college application process I could control was working hard and getting high scores, I would show up at Marymount on Saturday and Sunday of most weeks for theater rehearsals or AP study sessions. Colleges hold the power of deciding whether or not to accept you, and I was going to give them every reason to let me in. This attitude was common for students in higher curriculum and AP classes, though not for Olivia Jade.

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

if you know Olivia, you too are probably surprised she stuck it out 💐congrats my little graduate

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Thinking about the thousands of hours of work I put in made it even more frustrating to hear of the news surrounding Olivia Jade and Bella. Not to mention, that what occurred so clearly combats the ethics the school so strongly upholds in their mission.

I could feel bitter towards my college counselor’s manipulative actions to better Marymount’s status rather than pursue what made sense for my future. I could harbor resentment towards Olivia Jade, whose crew team extracurricular activities were forged while I trekked back and forth to the high school seven days a week. But I won’t. Unlike the people involved in this scheme, I am an empowered woman and I am committed to the common good as my Marymount taught me to be. And, unlike Olivia Jade, I’ll eventually receive a college diploma from a top university that I earned