As much as I’d like to think I’m a relatively level headed person, there are a few things that really get under my skin. Such things could be slow walkers, my fear of deep waters, people who try to hit the woah but can’t do it properly, etc.
But here’s what bothers me the most: injustice. Injustice on any level, whether it be small scale or a national conflict, just doesn’t sit well with me, even if it doesn’t pertain to me at all.
So what happens when you nationally publicize an injustice that applies to all college students across America?
Outrage, frustration and, of course, a livid Opinion writer at The Triangle who is set on giving you her two cents on the issue.
I’m sure you’ve all heard of the scandal in which 33 high-profile individuals and parents were accused of partaking in bribery in order to secure their children’s admissions into top-ranking colleges.
When I first heard about it, I didn’t think much of it. Sure, it bothered me, but at least the parents were going to pay for the crimes they committed, right? There was no reason for me to get involved.
Until I realized that this issue actually does directly affect me. It directly affects me, it directly affects my friends and it will directly affect all of the people who are currently, or in the near future will be, applying to colleges.
And that’s when I decided to write on this issue.
Here’s how it began:
Prosecutors had initially been investigating an unrelated case against finance executive Morrie Tobin for securities fraud, which led to Tobin offering a tip in exchange for potential leniency.
Hence, from here came the leads that exposed these parents involved in the scandal; Tobin had mentioned the name of Yale’s women’s soccer coach who had suggested Tobin use bribery in order to fix her daughter’s enrollment in the school.
As it turns out, that soccer coach had been working for William “Rick” Singer, who was the founder of a college preparatory business called the Edge College & Career Network, also known as “The Key.” He coordinated all of these illegal operations, such as funneling the money into colleges that guaranteed these parents’ children’s acceptances or helping children cheat on standardized college admission tests.
He had allegedly garnered $25 million as of February by running this racketeering business.
Among these parents were celebrities like Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin.
Huffman and her husband had paid $15,000 to the Key Worldwide Foundation, where Singer proposed a plan that he would alter their daughter’s SAT score by correcting her wrong answers. Their daughter, who requested extra time though she had no learning disability, took the SAT in the presence of a proctor who was in on the scheme.
She scored a 1420, a full 400 points higher than her PSAT score.
Huffman was charged for her participation in these illegal activities; her husband was not charged, and her daughter had not yet been accepted into any colleges yet. It is unclear as to whether or not she was aware of the scandal she had been caught in at the time.
Loughlin was one of America’s dearest TV show actresses, playing the beloved Aunt Becky. She and her husband used $100,000, allegedly, to have their daughters Olivia Jade and Isabella Rose Giannulli admitted as crew recruits for USC. Neither of the girls had ever laid hands on an oar.
Perhaps the most startling aspect of this situation with Loughlin and her daughters was the commentary made by Olivia Jade, a Youtube sensation.
“But I do want the experience of like game days, partying. I don’t really care about school, as you guys all know,” Jade claimed.
Having presented all this information to you, I think now’s as good a time as any to explain why this scandal irritates me on a much more personal level.
The college admission process is a struggle, but I think what most people tend to forget is that it doesn’t just start during senior year.
We’ve all heard stories about how parents literally force their kids to pick up the most obscure instruments or sports, like squash or oboe, at a young age just so that colleges looking for certain talented players will be inclined to give their application a second glance. It doesn’t surprise me that these parents were this desperate to partake in illegal activities and bribery to help their kids succeed. That’s not to say I empathize with them, but I can see why they didn’t think about how this puts hardworking kids who actually do care about getting a higher level education at a school at a disadvantage.
In fact, we even laugh at memes and jokes that poke fun at kids who literally lock themselves up in their room to study for hours at a time for a standardized test just to earn a good score that college admission boards can use to label them with. But I think sometimes we forget, not that there’s anything wrong with a good joke here or there, just how serious this is, and how disproportionately it affects certain populations, especially the Asian population.
It bothers me that I had to sit there and watch some of the most deserving and smartest kids in my school be rejected from schools that I know should have accepted them; they had the scores, the brains and the extracurriculars to prove it.
Some of us are first generation college students or applicants; our parents have poured in an amount of time, money and effort that we could never hope to repay so that we could have an education and a future that they never had.
As much as college is a chance for us to make a living for ourselves, no matter how much we try to deny that, it also is a chance to make our parents proud and show that everything that they put into us paid off. That’s why when we get a bad test score or when we don’t get into the colleges we wanted to, or when I see stuff like this, it hurts me to think that no matter how hard we try, sometimes it’s just out of our control. It hurts me to think that in the very back of my mind, I want to tell my brothers, who are leaps and bounds smarter than me and deserving of the top colleges, to not waste their money. There will be a kid richer than you with more legacy who will probably have an advantage over you. It hurts me to think of all the kids who have literally sacrificed so much just to put together an outstanding resume for college were rejected for a reason that was unjust and more importantly, out of their control.
However, I also think that in order to combat this problem, there needs to be more of an emphasis on the individual student themselves, rather than an emphasis on the schools. Sure, certain schools just tend to rank higher than others, but what concerns me the most is that the more value and importance we delegate to schools that are inclined to be bribed by money and legacy, the more we polarize this issue and the more pressure we put on kids to literally kill themselves trying to get into one school. Instead, I feel that there should be more focus on a students forming a healthy relationship among themselves, their studies and their social lives. And rather than the dinner discussion being about Harvard or Yale, there should be more positive conversations perhaps about the groundbreaking research happening at state schools that can be equally as challenging and competitive as that of the Ivy Leagues.
Retrospectively, the college admissions process is a complicated one that would need to be discussed in a mini series, not a single article. But for now, here’s my conclusion in a nutshell:
What these parents did was wrong. They deserve to be tried by court and to pay for the crimes they have done. It’s unacceptable to abuse one’s power and money to one’s advantage, especially if it comes at the price of another person’s opportunity.
College admission boards need to crack down on properly managing their individual constituents to avoid falling victim to these illegal bribes, and for unfairly evaluating their applicant pool.
And finally, for the sake of current and future college students, from the very beginning of a child’s educational journey, there needs to be a paramount emphasis on developing healthy study habits and allowing them the freedom to choose what they want to do with their lives; the name of a school or their test score doesn’t define them, especially given what we have learned about how little we actually have in our control concerning the college admission process.