by Noah Wali
The rat race that is the college admissions process seems to have reached a breaking point in the last year.
Since the number of students in the US who will enter into a college-level education continues to grow each year, colleges have been forced to become more and more selective to assure solid, impactful students at top universities. Whether or not seniors like it, getting into your number 1 choice is never an easy feat no matter where you want to go. Consider hours spent on applications, standardized test prep knowledge that you will never use again, and the lingering, heavy stress from the junior year until May of senior year. Now consider ways to curb that stress about going to your dream school. Connections? Trying extra hard in school and extracurriculars? Having a unique talent? While I believe every student applying to college in this world because they want to has the potential to be amazing, some parents view college in a different manner. The selectivity scares them, they’re worried colleges won’t see how special their children really are. This is when they crack. Acting on these feelings is when problems arise for students, parents, and universities.
Actress Felicity Huffman was officially sentenced to jail for her role in the college cheating scandal. She has been ordered to serve 14 days behind bars, pay a $30,000 fine, do 250 hours of community service, and be supervised during her first year released. She originally pled guilty to having her daughter’s SAT scores illegally changed.
Lori Loughlin, on the other hand, pled not guilty. She and her husband, Mossimo Giannulu, were charged with paying $500,000 to pass their daughters off as University of Southern California crew recruits, which they were not at all. They are maintaining their innocence, and their fate is not yet known. Her acting career has gone to shreds as well, losing her upcoming role in the Netflix series Fuller House.
Fifty people total were charged in this case, including two SAT/ACT administrators, one exam proctor, nine coaches at elite schools, one college administrator, and 33 parents.
So what does all of this mean? Why does it matter? Do they deserve to be sentenced? Think about this: In 2011, an Ohio woman was sentenced to five years in prison for using her parent’s address to send her kids to a better public school. Do these women, coaches, and counselors deserved to be sentenced? Absolutely, especially given the harsh reaction of the Ohio court in the sentencing of the Ohio woman. I believe the college scandal is far more serious than trying to give your kid a better education. As Paula Sutton, a college counselor at OES puts it: “The obsession with ‘top’ universities is misplaced. Students should focus on finding colleges where they will thrive, and avoid the slippery slope of making high school all about getting into college. I don’t know anyone who regrets making healthy and ethical choices in life.” Parents and even who view success based on the selectivity lose the ability to truly enjoy and learn about the world through a college education. The focus, rather than on learning about how to be a good citizen, becomes a competition of status. Isabelle Torch, a senior currently hard at work on her applications, mentioned that: “It shows that even some colleges are willing to bend the rules to get more money. Overall, the admissions process screws everyone over.” Not only are parents and students obsessed with the top colleges in the world, but colleges also strive to uphold prestige. While prestige and selectivity can be a great thing in life, especially for your future job, parents paying off schools or college counselors to assist with the admissions process takes that to the next level, an almost unhealthy amount.
I truly believe success can happen at any college if a student puts their mind to it and enjoys the environment they are learning in. As for the college admissions process this year, “We have long talked with students and parents about the importance of going through the college application process with integrity. That will continue and this will only make us more attentive. I have come to see this unfortunate event as a gift in the form of a dramatic and timely reminder of both the unhealthy and misplaced obsession–on the part of some–with getting into a particular group of colleges,” reveals Paula. I hope the admissions process goes smoothly for seniors all around the world who are applying to college. Remember to always make your decisions based on your happiness and your future.