We've all heard the breaking news: children of celebrities and uber-rich parents are cutting the line to get into elite colleges and universities. This has come in forms of payments to admissions officers and coaches, fake student-athlete profiles, falsified or inflated scores on the ACT/SAT, and more. Whether you're a senior in high school trying to get into college, already in college and worked incredibly hard to get there, or a parent of either type of student who is watching or has watched your child struggle for admission, you're probably outraged by this. Originally, when I first heard the news, I, too, was outraged. I thought to myself, "all that time and work I devoted to challenging classes in high school, extra summer courses, and the SAT, all while some kids get to just walk into these schools without lifting a finger?" Okay, yes. But, my perspective has changed, and it is much more productive than my original thoughts.
I hate to pull the "look where they are now" card, but, it is most appropriate for this case. Not only are the parents involved in this scandal facing huge fines and jail time, but they're also taking hard hits to their reputation and career. The same goes for their children. Some of the kids are also famous for who knows what, but are already facing backlash in the media for this kind of scamming. That will be difficult for them to recover from as well. Additionally, judging by the reactions to the fraud on and around college campuses, it is not crazy to think that most of them will not return to their schools. That concept might offer a slight sense of justice restoration.
Furthermore, let's assess what the actions taken really say about the students and their families. In my opinion, the parents who did this behind their child's back are more despicable than the ones who had the whole family in on the job. Imagine how deceived the students feel if they didn't know this was happening until about two weeks ago when the rest of America found out. For the parents who did this on their own, what does that say about the faith they have in their child? Something that I found particularly striking was that one father in the case was quoted explaining that, after all the money and scamming, he hoped his child would be inspired to make use of his life. I'm sorry, but isn't that a sick thing to say about your own child? I don't know about you, but I'll take a family who supports me and believes in me over a purchased spot in college any day.
Quite honestly, I feel bad for these students. Regardless of the name-brand school or the fame and fortune, I feel bad that they don't know what it's like earning something such as a college acceptance on their own. I know that I speak for many college students when I say that getting accepted to colleges on my own merit and work ethic was the most gratifying feeling of my life thus far. Spin this concept any way you want, but that feeling is truly priceless, and those students missed out on it.
I agree with the news reports when they express that the true victims are the deserving students who worked hard and got their spots taken by these people. Every hard-working student has a right to be angry. But, anger over the case will not solve much. The ideal outcome that can come from this is wide recognition that the college admissions process is practically built to collapse on itself; if that weren't the case, then something like this could not have happened so many times over again. There are a plethora of issues concerning who is/is not getting accepted to certain schools and how or why this is happening. Too many good students are getting shut out of schools they belong at because of back-door entrances and cheating. Let us be productive about the issue at hand rather than ruminating in each other's anger and use this case as an aid to bring about fairness to college admissions.
If there is any piece of advice I can offer to the hard workers who feel robbed, I'll tell you what I told myself: continue focusing on your work and your passions. Simple, perhaps even trite, but nonetheless true. Whether it is immediately obvious or not, an unbreakable work ethic will always prevail in the long run, especially over a checkbook.