Editorial: College Admissions Scandal

“This scandal is just the tip of the iceberg. The FBI said this scheme amounts to a ‘rigged system,’ but the truth is that the whole system of college admissions is rigged in favor of the wealthy.” – Richard V. Reeves, senior fellow of Economic Studies and co-director of the Center on Children and Families at the Brookings Institute

College, it’s something a lot of people include in their post-high school plans, and emphasis on the four-year degree has increased with each passing year. For something that’s considered “necessary” in today’s society, one would think that the college acceptance process would be a fair, clean system.

In recent weeks, however, the idea of fair processes, in regards to college acceptance, has been skewed as the rich and famous demonstrate their “control” over yet another segment of society.

The “Varsity Blues” scandal, where dozens of rich and powerful parents with the cooperation of admissions officials, coaches, and advisors got their children into top colleges through heavy bribes and having their children pose as D1 athletes, began to unravel after authorities received a tip from a defendant during an unrelated court case. However, the scam became much larger than anyone ever imagined.

Over the past month, the media has observed multiple high profile celebrities who are caught up and entangled in this mess of a situation. Among the most notable individuals, are actresses Lori Loughlin, known for her role in Full House, and Felicity Huffman, known for her role in Desperate Housewives. Many of the major colleges involved in the scandal are “elite” schools, known for their low acceptance rates and academic rigor, which includes Yale, Stanford, Wake Forest, UCLA, University of Southern California, and several others.

According to the washingtonpost.com, U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling stated that “this case is about the widening corruption of elite college admissions through the steady application of wealth combined with fraud. There can be no separate college admission system for the wealthy, and I’ll add there will not be a separate criminal-justice system, either.”

This scandal has expanded the contempt of wealthy, well-connected adults who believe that they can simply buy whatever they want in hopes of evading the legal systems put in place in this country.

However, some people make the argument that these parents are doing everything in their power to ensure their children’s success.

According to the washingtonpost.com, founder of DC College Counseling and an independent educational consultant in Northern Virginia, Colleen Paparella Ganjian, explained that after some parents have controlled their child’s every decision “college admissions is the first time that they aren’t able to give the child something they want. . . . When parents are faced for the first time with the idea that they can’t step in and make it better after 18 years of doing that, that’s really scary, and probably more scary for the parent than for the child.”

This claim, however valid it may seem to some, does not excuse the extent to which these parents went in order to fraudulently get their child admitted to their school of choice and steal a spot from an honest, qualified applicant, athlete, or other deserving students. Instead of teaching their kids that hard work is the means that justifies the end, they are teaching them that money can buy anything. Additionally, these parents are stripping their children of the opportunity to learn from failure simply in order to make themselves and their family look good.

The college admissions process is multifaceted when it comes to all of the different ways people can achieve a leg up, both “legal” and illegal. And, as more information becomes publicized, this admissions scandal is most definitely just scratching the surface of a much larger issue that everyone knew was most likely happening, but little evidence existed to prove it.

Overall, college admissions representatives and other significant figures in the admissions process need to strip themselves of the false and exclusionary concepts that limit their scope merely to individuals who can foot a much larger bill. In the end, it all needs to come back to merit and an applicant’s willingness to work and learn, which are two elements that make up the most important reason why people attend college – to learn.