Is there a price tag on acceptance?
The college admissions scandal is yet another example of people with wealth trying to get an even larger head start above those who do not. While the scope of this scandal is disappointing, it is not surprising. I hope that those involved will be punished and that it will encourage an environment in our schools that support education above profit, but I am not sold on this being the start of any significant change. I think that our current university system is too beneficial to the wealthy and well-connected for anything but a few cosmetic and minor rule changes to be implemented. But I am equally hopeful that my cynicism about this is unfounded, and that this is a solid victory for student equality and the merits of hard work above lucky birth. I also hope that we will eventually be able to solve problems before these scandals occur, rather than only patching up problems after they become too big to ignore like we have done in the past.
We all know what it’s like to go through the college admissions process. We all know the excitement and dread we felt when we opened our SAT and ACT results. We all know the feeling of joy of being accepted into our college of choice, and the sadness when we didn’t. How would you feel knowing that a spot at an elite university could have gone to you, a deserving hardworking student, but instead the spot went to a mediocre child of a celebrity? This is the heart of the debate about paying to get into college. 33 parents have been indicted by the FBI for bribing coaches and admissions officers at schools like USC and Stanford so their child would be guaranteed a place. In my opinion, white collar crimes are just as bad as violent crimes, and they should be punished with harsh sentences. Being rich and famous should never guarantee a spot at a university - and if you are one of those, who is apathetic about this whole thing, you shouldn’t. It’s even more commentary on a society that espouses morals about how the rich have earned everything and didn’t cheat to get ahead, while doing the exact opposite. This should inspire outrage and lead to change in our current system.
Is there a price tag on acceptance? Unfortunately, there is, today more than ever it seems to matter more to colleges the amount of money your parents have than the amount of knowledge you possess. In high school, I remember students would talk about how they didn’t have to worry about getting into colleges because their parents made a “sizable donation” to the school of their choice each year. In reality, that donation was their ticket of acceptance. This isn’t fair to the students who have to rely solely on their test scores, school involvement, and community service to get into colleges. The sad thing is, this cycle will never end. Colleges want money, and if someone is willing to give them money in order to have their child attend their school, they will take it. This makes me wonder, how much is a college acceptance really worth? I once viewed it as this special accomplishment that not everyone had the pleasure of receiving, but maybe it isn’t worth more than the amount of zeros daddy can write on a check.
Unfortunately, before this scandal even broke out it was already known that parents will give schools “donations” to the universities that their child would like to potentially attend. I think that is absolutely absurd because if everyone had the means to do that to increase their chances to get into a school of their dreams, they would do it in a heart beat. Morally, it is not okay but this is a situation that is happening statewide. Everyone should have an equal chance into getting into a university. It should depend on test scores, and how hard students work in high school, not how much money their family can provide. From personal experience I know people from high school including myself that worked incredible hard to get to the next chapter in their life, and people like that deserve those spots at elite universities, because they are willing to put in the work that is required from them, that is what should define their admission, not their families wealth.
The American education system is one based upon privilege, so there has always been a loophole for those who can foot the bill. This system has existed with generations of pay-offs that ultimately result in more resources for the institution. Benefactors who donate funds with the intention to curry favor may have bad intentions, but their money provides funding for programs that benefit students. Only in a perfect world, dirty money may be responsible for new couches in the locker room or a new set of helmets for the team. I don’t know, they probably have a corrupt money trail of their own. Bribing schools is a necessary evil, and one that exists purely because institutions tolerate that behavior from their alumni and incoming classes. Who wouldn’t? This “bad habit” lines the pockets of the people that make the rules in the first place.
Follow the Daily Wildcat on Twitter