College Admissions: The Battle Between Wealth and Education

Charlotte Wenig, Staff Reporter

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College application and admissions season is a stressful time for every high school student. However, in the nation’s wealthiest families, students aren’t stressed about scoring high on their SATs. They’re scared about being caught by the FBI.

Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman are two of the 50 parents found guilty of cheating their way through the college admissions process. Loughlin was charged with fraud for paying a college admissions prep company CEO, Mark Singer, $500,000 for the admittance of her two daughters, Olivia and Isabella, to the University of Southern California. Singer admitted that the bribe money was used to get USC athletic directors to “scout” Olivia and Isabella for the crew team, even though neither daughter participates in the sport.

However, Singer was selling two kinds of fraud. First, the athletic recruiting bribes, and second was cheating on the SAT and ACT. The bribes were disguised as charitable donations to Singer’s non-profit company. Singer was actually laundering the money and said that his aim was to “help the wealthiest families in the US get their kids into school.”

This cheating mess has led college students to question the integrity of their parents as well.

“For some students they didn’t know that their parents have done this. This causes students that are in school to question whether they got in legitimately,” said Carol Diebel, College and Career Center volunteer coordinator at Fairview. “There’s no end to it.”

To bribe college board members to admit your child is to take away the acceptance of a deserving student applying to that college.

“[The fraud system] takes advantage of all the people who have done it the right way. Those who have worked so hard in academics, or sports, or performing arts. It has taken the places of many deserving students. It has put people in who didn’t work to get in,” said Diebel.

This scandal is putting the wrong message into students’ minds and gives perspective students the idea that “you can pay for anything,” said Diebel.

From a high school student’s perspective, this scandal felt much more applicable. For high school seniors pushing through college applications, hearing about this scandal and understanding how these families took the easy route felt like a punch in the stomach.

“I was deferred and then rejected from Northeastern, one of the schools caught for letting kids in the ‘side door,’ which will always make me wonder if my spot was taken by someone else,” said senior Zoe Bennett.

College applications are already a very tough competition but when the aspect of paying your way to the top comes into play, the game changes.

“A lot of people see the school your kid is going to as a symbol to show off, so these parents are willing to pay up to six million for this purpose,” said Bennett.

While this scheme seems like it was just putting privileged kids into top schools for educational purposes, parents just wanted another status boost from this fraud.

The process of college applications should have the end goal of obtaining a higher education, not paying your way to a higher status.