Recently news broke about the rich and powerful, such as actors and CEOs, participating and being charged in college admissions schemes in order to guarantee their children spots in prestigious colleges. Whether through “charitable donations,” “recruitment for a sports team,” or altering test scores, these crimes are one thing: fraud.
While these stories have inspired a lot of memes reacting to the ridiculousness of the situation, (yes, one of the people charged was Aunt Becky in Full House), I could not help but be offended at the hurt these alleged actions have potentially caused. I am a Freshman in college, and I remember only a year ago waiting with bated breath for my admissions decisions. I have always loved school, but in high school, I did not focus on the details of my future. Some kids dream of going to Harvard or Stanford, but I only realized schools like these could potentially be an option for me when I started receiving mail from them. I readjusted my goals and studied hard for the ACT, kept my grades high, and involved myself in many extracurriculars. All of this said, I never stopped doing what I loved. I never did anything just to get into a good school.
By the time it came to apply to schools my senior year, I had fallen in love with Yale. With my perfect GPA, close to perfect ACT score, and a long list of extracurriculars, I had hope. I applied single-choice early action, which means that Yale was the only private school I applied “early” too. The rest I was required to apply for Regular Decision. Just typing those words brings back all the memories of the work I put into my applications and the anxiety I had while waiting for my decisions. And what were those decisions, you ask?
One deferral in December 2017 (Yale) followed by four rejections with a couple of days in March (Harvard, Princeton, Duke, and Yale). A waitlist (WashU).
I was crushed. Looking back, I know now that I probably was not ready to be a plane ride away from home instead of a two-hour drive. When I was eventually accepted off of the waitlist at WashU, I had already committed to the University of Oklahoma, and I decided to stay for a number of reasons. (Speaking of which, I am glad I did. I can’t imagine the number of friends and people that I love whom I never would have met if I had gone to a different school). But the crushing feeling of not being accepted to the school of my dreams was a lot for me. I wondered what I did not have and what my application was missing. A cynical part of me has to ask if it was money or connections.
With another lawsuit against Harvard for their admissions practices and this one together, I am offended at what power connections seem to hold. What does this teach the students who were accepted under false pretenses? Does it teach them that hard work doesn’t matter? Does it teach them that they can skate by on the influence of their powerful and famous parents? What does this teach the students that were not accepted because they didn’t have these same abilities? That no matter what, the work they do will never be appreciated? What about that all the work they did not mean anything?
High school students today get extremely worked up about the numbers behind their admissions. The Internet is full of people comparing their “stats” to others and people that were accepted or denied before, and they guess about a process in which they have no say and no idea what goes on. This is why this scam carries so much weight. This teaches lessons to students that cannot be unlearned. Lori Laughlin’s (Aunt Becky’s) daughters go to the University of Southern California, a school to which I did not apply. Did they know? Do they or students in the same situation feel that their college experience has been cheapened? I wonder what it feels like to be them.