Let’s Talk about the College Admissions Scandal

The controversy surrounding the college admission scandal in the U.S. has gained a massive amount of attention and media coverage over the past few weeks. Since the breakout of the story, over 50 people, including coaches, administrators, and parents, have been charged in federal court for being involved in a conspiracy to “illicitly gain admission for high school students to top colleges and universities.” Included in the group of accused persons are actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman – by far the most publicized names related to the scandal. The corruption goes back even further than most might expect, as records of this particular scheme date back to 2011. Recent reports indicate that a number of parents paid anywhere from $200,000 to $6.5 million to have their children admitted to elite universities, including Yale, Stanford, Georgetown, UCLA, USC, and various others. In addition, many parents of high school students have allegedly paid approximately $25 million dollars to help their children attend various colleges and universities.

So why does all of this matter? Why should we care? When looking at the wide range of reactions to this story, I found a large number of people who were overwhelmingly unsurprised; many equate this situation to parents donating large amounts of money to the school – an observation that I find to be wholly inaccurate. Yes, it may be true that kids from wealthier families have more economic advantages; however, to say that these parents’ actions were comparable to “rich parents donating money” downplays the seriousness of the issue, and undermines the students from wealthier backgrounds who worked to fairly earn their places. In addition, I found that many people were quite unsympathetic towards the students involved. While there is speculation that some of them were aware of their parents’ actions, it’s likely that many didn’t. It’s unfortunate that these students are now having to pay the price for their parents’ decisions and will have their future opportunities hindered because of them.

I feel that the nature of this scandal is very telling of the time we live in. There has been so much pressure for our generation to be perfect; we’re taught that there’s a certain path we need to follow to achieve success, and that we’ll fail if we stray away from it. As a student who comes from a lower income family, it can be frustrating to hear stories like these, and they can induce feelings of animosity toward more privileged individuals. Despite this, I feel that it’s important to maintain some compassion. This situation demonstrates that many of these parents had so little faith in their children’s abilities that they felt they had to bribe and cheat for them to have a place. I hope that the widespread coverage of this incident will discourage others from following suit, and will create more transparent systems to prevent this from happening again in the future. This will ensure that all students, regardless of their wealth, can be on a level playing field.

Source: Friedman, Zack. “30 Fast Facts About The College Admissions Scandal.” Forbes Magazine. 18th Mar. 2019, https://www.forbes.com/sites/zackfriedman/2019/03/18/30-facts-college-admissions-scandal/#6cc642c912a0