Bribery scandal highlights flaws in college admissions


Tyler Jones

The college bribery scandal involved falsified SAT scores, providing a significant advantage to wealthy parents who paid o have scores changed.

Ellie Werthman, Co-Editor in Chief

As a senior, applying to colleges this past fall was stressful, to say the least, but hearing about the college admissions scandal was just demoralizing.

It has been no secret that wealthy families have and will donate buildings to schools to make their names more notable amid the admissions counselors at prestigious colleges and universities, but the scandal that broke mid-March was different. Parents including Felicity Huffman, Lauren Loughlin and Mossimo Giannulli were among 33 people involved in a direct bribery scheme to get their children into the colleges of their choice. Huffman along with a dozen other charged parents and the University of Texas at Austin men’s tennis coach, Michael Center, pleaded guilty as of April 8.

Prosecutors are accusing the Edge College and Career Network and the Key Worldwide Foundation of helping students cheat their standardized test scores as well as falsify the sports they played to give the students a leg up in the admissions process. Athletic coaches accepted bribes to “recruit” students for sports that they never played. The coaches even promised these students would never have to actually be part of the team. In one case, the head of one kid was photoshopped onto the body of a water polo player in order to try and prove that the kid played the sport.

I do not have expectations that the process of the admissions bureaucracy will change because there are systemic issues. The difference is that a new science building benefits all students on the campus, while bribing under the table is blatantly illegal and offers no benefits to the school. There are problems with the way recruitment and standardized tests work, but why should students who test well or who are exceptional athletes be put at a disadvantage because some people have trust funds?

The bribery also seems as though it would be hurtful to the student. It is a blatant way of a parent saying they do not have enough trust in their kid to get into a school that will be best for them.

In addition, just because a student does not get into one of the top ten schools does not mean they will not end up where they need to be. It would be better for a student to end up at a school they are academically suitable for than go to a school where they will struggle. Often times, the students that cheat their way into these elite schools are unable to handle the course load, or the dining hall is not specially catered to their wants, creating a crisis for them.

In an age of helicopter parents, this may be a sign that the parents need to land their helicopters and let their kids mature with guidance. These kids will not have their parents to clear their paths their whole life, and adversity is followed by growth.

With all this money being exchanged, why not spend that money investing in your child’s education earlier on? Why not use that money to expose your kids to something that excites them, about which they could write a college essay?

The timing of the scandal breaking was right before most kids got their decision notifications from these elite schools as well. Schools such as the University of Southern California and the University of California Los Angeles seemingly postponed their admission decisions to review applications. USC reportedly will reject six students who applied to enroll next fall and were involved in the scandal. The school has also instructed students already at the school who were found to be involved in the scandal to not register for next semester’s classes. Meanwhile, Wake Forest will let a student admitted as a part of this scandal remain. In certain cases, it is unclear if the students were aware of their parents actions.

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