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How College Students Actually Feel About the College Admissions Scandal

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UK chapter.

It’s been almost a month since the news of the college admissions scandal broke and took over news networks across the nation. We’ve heard from comedians, admissions counselors, legal analysts, and celebrities on how they feel about the scandal but how do college students feel? College students understand how difficult it is to get into college – they’ve done it themselves – so to hear that students across the country were accepted into some of the nation’s top schools, including Yale, Stanford, UCLA, and Georgetown, due to their parents’ wealth must be infuriating, right? Let’s find out.


Many students, such as Analia Dama, a freshman advertising major at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, feel that the college admissions process overall is “too centralized” around standardized test scores. Dama said, “There are so many things that high school students are accomplishing but are overlooked by whether or not they have a high ACT/SAT score.” A large portion of the college admissions scandal involved standardized tests.


According to the criminal complaint released by the United States District Court, District of Massachusetts, some parents involved had their children appear as though they had learning disabilities in order to receive special accommodations during standardized tests including extra time, taking the exam over a period of two days, and in an individualized setting. By being granted extra time for the tests, students were able to take them at “controlled” testing centers where either the tests were corrected, students were given the correct answers as they took the test or the test was completed by someone other than the student.


The other part of the scandal involved recruitment. Coaches and university administrators were bribed to accept students as recruited athletes or as members of “other favored admissions categories.” Some students posed for pictures and their faces were photoshopped onto the bodies of legitimate athletes and used to create athletic profiles for the students. However, some students were allegedly unaware that their parents were ultimately paying for their acceptance into college.


When asked how she would feel if she learned her parents had paid to get her into college, Kennedy Castillo, a junior mass communication major at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley said, “I would be first and foremost ashamed that I took another student’s spot and also embarrassed because I was not admitted based on my own merit.”


There is a lot of talk in the news about what is happening to the parents involved in the scandal, but not much is being said about the students. Many of the colleges involved have said that the situation will be handled on a case-by-case basis. Some students will be allowed to stay in school if they prove their ability to stand at the school based on their own merits.


Katherine Kimbrough, a sophomore music major at the University of South Carolina shared her thoughts on what should happen to students involved in the scandal saying, “If they were fully aware [of] and consenting to their parents’ actions, they should face the consequences. In the U.S., higher education is a privilege you must earn through your actions, not just money. These people in this scandal do not respect that privilege. They see education as another thing to buy not the formative experience it is. Universities must show they are committed to change and are not subservient to money and correct the mistakes made thusly.”


Olivia Giannulli, who goes by the name Olivia Jade on social media, is the daughter of actress Lori Loughlin and fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli. Both Olivia and her older sister Isabella were accepted into USC through the college admissions scandal. Olivia has almost two million subscribers on YouTube and 1.4 million followers on Instagram. Her following has allowed her to work with numerous brands including HP and Sephora. Multiple brands have publicly cut ties with Olivia following the scandal and many students stand by these brands and their decisions including Amanda Fedele, a sophomore film and screen studies and psychology major at Pace University.


Fedele said, “What her family did was wrong and illegal whether she knew about it or not. Not just any young woman could have partnered with Sephora and HP. I’m sure that many of the [brand] board members had to work to get where they were and could sympathize with every student’s plight to get into college. I think it’s wonderful that they respect the law and justice enough to cut ties with someone who demonstrated the injustices that plague society. They proved that they stand for what’s right more than what will sell which is commendable.”


Students are attempting to sue schools involved in the college admissions scandal and it’s causing a debate among students. Jaz Daley, a junior public relations major at Kennesaw State University said, “I completely agree with them! I’m glad they are suing because someone who is more deserving should be given the spot.” However, Shay Wilson, a senior biology major at the University of Central Florida said, “I believe that this is foolish. I would not sue.”


Ashleigh Griffin, a senior food science and technology major at Virginia Tech said that if she were denied admission to one of the schools involved in the college admissions scandal she would feel “upset, but not much.” She continued saying, “If you were good enough they would choose you. Plus, you don’t always know what the reasoning is behind not getting in.” Hannah Renea Bumgarner, a junior international studies major at the University of Denver simply said that she would feel as though she “dodged a bullet.”  

Samantha is a junior studying Broadcast Journalism and Criminology at the University of Kentucky.