Admissions scandal reveals a broken system

Published 11:04 am Monday, March 18, 2019

The college admissions bribery scandal made public this week forces the nation to confront some uncomfortable and unwelcome truths.
Some really rich people have been accused of paying bribes in order to gain their children’s entry into a number of the nation’s most exclusive colleges and universities. These well-off parents bought their kids’ way through college admissions by paying others to take the ACT or SAT test or signing fat checks to purchase the favor of athletics personnel.
Most parents with high school age students know what it is to work hard to get their students through school. Students know how hard it is to attend college. Most get scholarships and work at part-time jobs, and they still graduate with college loans to pay on for years.
What’s shocking about this week’s college scandal story is just how low wealthy and celebrity parents were willing to go to get their underperforming children into prestigious colleges and universities. They not only paid big money, but paid someone to cheat for their children.
Most students are told to study hard and get good grades in high school, score high on one of the standardized tests (the SAT or ACT), demonstrate some measure of well-roundness through extracurricular activities and a student will be welcomed by a college with open arms.
However, we the American public recognizes that money is the fuel that powers the academic engine of American universities, and colleges are relying more heavily on private donors and endowments to pay the bills.
It’s therefore no secret that the children of generous donors aren’t likely to receive rejection letters by mail when applying to college.
This type of favoritism magnifies the nation’s growing economic divide, rewarding those families who can buy admission at the expense of those who can’t. For every undeserving student who gains admission to a prestigious school there is an accomplished child who had the door slammed in his or her face, denying them an opportunity they worked hard and honestly for.
What’s sad is that these parents who were involved in the college entrance scandal are teaching their children that’s it all right to cheat, that the important things in life are not earned, but can be bought if you have enough money and know the right people.
The college admissions scandal exposes a corrupt and broken system. It exposes not only how far the rich and famous will go to get their kids into elite schools, it exposes the correlation between right and wrong.
For those who thought that giving special consideration to a deserving minority is a threat to the integrity of the admissions process, take a pause.
It also shows that college athletics is rife with big money. Collegiate athletics officials in this country have enjoyed the ability to scoop up students and offer enticing scholarships to court them onto their teams. And even when athletics officials are being bought off, the collegiate sports work is engulfed in big money interests from donors and invested alumni. Those dollar bills can dictate everything from which coach stays on the job to which players get signed on. That’s in no way saying all student-athletes have an outsized advantage when being evaluated by prestigious universities. Rather it’s that the select few have had the power and pleasure to stomp on those with qualifications and real skill to ensure their children receive diplomas from top-notch schools. College athletics happens to be the broken vehicle facilitating the corruption.
Perhaps this scandal is an opportunity to stop pretending that the college admissions process is, by and large, fair, but to focus more on trying to make it right and fairer.
Students should be encouraged to get an education. Obtaining it the right way is noble, and a source of pride.

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