What We Can Learn From the College Admissions Scandal


Photo Courtesy of AP Images

Lori Laughlin is one of 50 parents indicted by the federal government because of her complicity in a huge college admissions conspiracy. Laughlin allegedly got her daughter into the University of Southern California illegally.

Joshua Perry, Co-Editor-In-Chief

Many of this year’s senior class, myself included, have been laser-focused since grade school on getting into college. We whispered our multiplication tables in our sleep, memorized the tenses of “lay” and “lie” and learned the steps of cellular respiration backwards and forwards. We burned admission rates into our skulls. We watched tuition prices climb and resolved to climb with them.

We were committed. But we were also blind.

Early this month, a sprawling federal indictment gave America a sordid glimpse of the higher-education underworld built solely to get the children of “elite” society into the top schools in the nation. Proctors filling out SATs for students, adults completing college applications under different names, coaches fabricating athletic profiles to fairy-godmother ordinary teenagers into star athletes—the list of unbelievable tactics goes on and on, and you can be sure that the 50 people charged by federal prosecutors for taking part are just the tip of the iceberg.

So many people believe that admission into an(y) Ivy is the be-all-end-all of a kid’s academic career. The truth is, college is not the end of the line. It is not the only path to success.”

It’s been common knowledge for a long time that those wealthy enough can make a charitable donation or buy a university a building and see their kids admitted, but this? Who could have imagined that college admission had a price tag? That some Machiavellian mothers were willing to pave their kids’ way to school with bribery?

So many people believe that admission into an(y) Ivy is the be-all-end-all of a kid’s academic career. The truth is, college is not the end of the line. It is not the only path to success. And getting into the Ivies doesn’t make you a better human than anyone else.

College is such an obsession for so many families because it’s the clear path forward, but that path is getting messier and messier each year. There’s no reason to be an officer in three different honor societies, apply to 10 schools you don’t have a true interest in, or go into serious debt at a school just because you feel like it’s the next step. Vocational schools, trade schools, gap years, internships—there are so many other viable options that people ignore because they think that college is on some elevated plane of existence. It isn’t.

But it is worth it for some. And those who’ve been dead-set on college their whole lives should be rewarded, not those whose parents pay their way through the door. The system is built to crowd out so many viable candidates simply because their families don’t have the same resources as the wealthy and well-off. This recent scandal is the most glaring example of that privilege, but it’s not the only one.

So many American families have been taught that their kids have to follow this perfect yellow brick road to college, but that path needs to be repaved. These issues are so firmly ingrained in our society that it may be years until we can smooth things out, but we can’t let the cracks get bigger. We clearly have a lot more to learn.