How fair are college admissions?

Money talks, and colleges listen


Courtesy of the official Full House Facebook page.

By Ana Pietrewicz, Collegian Columnist

It appears Aunt Becky has forgotten the family values her character attempted to instill on “Full House.”

In case you haven’t heard, actress Lori Loughlin is one of 50 wealthy people whom the FBI has charged with participating in a multimillion-dollar bribery scheme which enabled their not-so-academically gifted children to attend prestigious universities. If you want to read all the gory details of how, according to U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling, the “largest-ever college admissions scam” came to be, I recommend this article from the Washington Post. It involves fraudulent athletic profiles, corrupt collegiate coaches and lots and lots of money.

I’m not really here to talk about money greasing the palms of admissions counselors. It’s no secret that money talks, and colleges listen. Wealthy families have long made donations and grants to universities in order to secure acceptance for their children. How else did Jared Kushner receive admission to Harvard? Shortly after a donation of $2.5 million made by his father Charles Kushner, young Jared Kushner was accepted to join the ranks of elite academia.

No, it’s not the money that people are upset or shocked about. It’s the attitudes of the entitled children admitted to these universities. Here is a clip from one of “influencer” Olivia Jade’s YouTube videos where she says in her time at the University of Southern California she wants, “the experience of game days and partying…[she doesn’t] really care about school.” So it seems like mother Loughlin could have saved her $500,000 and given Olivia’s coveted USC admission spot to a more deserving student. After all the discussion about affirmative action, this feels like another slap in the face to students who actually work hard for and during their college careers.

Fellow Daily Collegian columnist Bhavya Pant wrote an excellent article back in January detailing the many problems with affirmative action. She brings up a point which I wholeheartedly agree with: when first implemented, affirmative action policies intended to promote diversity at colleges and universities across the nation, but now those same policies are harming the same groups they once helped. As an example, look to the lawsuit Harvard is facing from Asian-American students – the Ivy League university was accused of denying Asian-American students admission due to their diversity quotas, despite the fact that Asian-American students consistently had a higher academic performance than admitted students of other races.

Campus diversity has increased nationally since affirmative action policies were implemented, and I am of the belief that they should now be reformed in order to create a truly unbiased college admissions process. Colleges and universities should still promote a diverse campus in their admissions process, but they should do so in a way that rewards hardworking, well-rounded students as opposed to focusing on reaching certain quotas. If race and gender are not considered in admissions decisions, the amount of bribery that a prospective student’s parents can afford to pay the institution should not be considered either. It’s possible to comprehend that some colleges could take money into account when admitting students – at the end of the day, colleges are businesses – but it is reprehensible that the lackluster, disinterested children of the wealthy are permitted to attend prestigious universities because they bribed college officials.

The rhetoric is repeated throughout a student’s academic career that if they work hard, they can achieve their dreams. So what do hardworking students do with a system that rewards people who can simply buy their way into school? Many college students are not able to pick and choose between schools and are forced to decide which institution they will attend based mainly on the financial aid they receive. When colleges accept bribes, they undermine the intelligent students who may not be as financially privileged.

The admissions scandal also undermines the work of student athletes – many of the families involved fabricated entire athletic profiles in order to legitimize their attendance at the universities, going so far as to photoshop faces onto the bodies of different athletes. The students in question had little to no experience with the sports they allegedly played, let alone experience at a collegiate level. These students potentially took coveted spots on sports teams from actual athletes, athletes who are actually willing to work hard both physically and mentally in order to stay in good standing with their schools and who might not have otherwise had a chance to attend these prestigious institutions.

This entire scandal has opened up discussion around perceived fairness in the college admissions process. If prospective students can just buy their way in, then where does that place other hopeful applicants? What is the standard for admissions? What should students work toward? Colleges and universities should be transparent and fair in their admissions process and maintain an academic standard in order to ensure fairness for all applicants. Every hardworking student who wants to pursue higher education should have a chance to do so.

Ana Pietrewicz is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected]