College Admissions Scandal

The College Cheating Scandal Proves That Our Culture of College Admissions NEEDS To Change

It's time that we start doing what's right for us.

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Recent news broke out of one of the biggest college admissions scandals in history, where over fifty people were charged with a variety of crimes in order to help their children get into several prestigious colleges across the country. The story has followed the allegations made against Felicity Huffman of "Desperate Housewives," who was accused of paying $15,000 towards an organization that helped her daughter cheat and receive better SAT scores. And even more importantly publicized was the story of Lori Loughlin, star of "Full House," and her husband, indicted for supposedly paying over $500,000 to get their daughters as athletic recruits for the University of Southern California's crew team though neither of the girls played the sport.

The news of these offenses greatly struck a chord with me. Maybe it has to do with the fact that I have been watching Full House ever since I was a little girl and have always looked up to a woman like Lori Loughlin, more commonly referred to as "Aunt Becky." Or maybe it's because I have recently been following the life of one of her daughters' Olivia Jade, who has taken the YouTube community by storm and showcasing her love for fashion, makeup, and lifestyle. Although Olivia's intentions and feelings about school have been put into question in the past, I also really admired her and loved watching her videos.

However, I think what really hit home about this story is that I was just in this position not too long ago. The anticipation of standardized testing and applying to colleges is marked as one of the most stressful periods for any teenager, and going to a large, reputable high school like mine only exacerbated this pressure. Taking endless amounts of APs, faking symptoms of disorders such as ADHD to get extra time on tests, and spending thousands of dollars on tutors and essay coaches were the norm. The pressure to do well and get into the best colleges was enormous, and people went to drastic measures to make that happen. My graduating class alone not only had representation to every single Ivy league, but over thirty students receive a perfect score on their ACT...just take a moment to think about that.

Unlike many of my peers, I was not fortunate enough to have tutors or essay coaches—I studied and completed endless practice tests for the ACT and wrote and edited every essay myself, without even the help from my parents. Even though this frustrated me, it was the hard work that I put in myself that made getting into four well-known and highly-ranked universities an even greater accomplishment. I got into college on my own merit, and no one can take that away with me.

I do believe, though, that there is nothing wrong with getting a little extra help and finding the necessary resources to make sure that you are doing the best you can, especially those who truly need it. But it is those people, the Loughlin's included, who have gone beyond the extra mile and resorted to extreme measures that I find unnecessary and rather ridiculous. I spent a lot of time the other day reading the indictments of the various cases themselves, and I am just appalled at the results. I'm not sure exactly what the intentions were, but it does make me question the idea that these parents didn't believe in their children enough. Because honestly, if they were meant to get into those schools and go there, they would have on their own accord.

You don't want to set someone up for a situation where a school is too challenging and they aren't prepared enough just because it is so-called "better." What people often forget sometimes is that college is not about the name or the brand, it's about finding the place where you belong and will succeed the best. The truth of the matter is, whether Olivia Jade went to USC or community college, she would be fine no matter where she went because she would be doing what is best for her.

I'm sure that each of these parents thought that what they were doing was in the best interest of their children, but the drastic measures they went to were not only wrong (and illegal) but are sending the wrong message.

In all honesty, this is surely not the first time that someone has cheated or bribed their way into college, and certainly won't be the last. With college commitment day just shy of a month away, I really hope that stories like these are not showing students that it is okay to lie and cheat to get what you want, but rather that the gratification of hard work and self-reliance is most important. Every single college in this country is great in their own ways, and a teacher, a friend, a parent, or a ranking number does not change that. Just because a school is "better" does not mean that it is better for YOU.

Do I wish that my ACT score went up a few points? Yes. Would I have liked to get into my so-called "reach" schools because of their prestige and reputation? Absolutely. But I know that I am at the right school for me, and one extra point on a test or acceptance isn't going to change that. I hope that a scandal as controversial as this one will hopefully help shed light onto the problems with the college admissions process and the wrong messages it may be sending. Instead, we should be teaching students to become their own advocates and strive for academic excellence that is right for them.

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To The Friends I Won't Talk To After High School

I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.
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Hey,

So, for the last four years I’ve seen you almost everyday. I’ve learned about your annoying little brother, your dogs and your crazy weekend stories. I’ve seen you rock the awful freshman year fashion, date, attend homecoming, study for AP tests, and get accepted into college.

Thank you for asking me about my day, filling me in on your boy drama and giving me the World History homework. Thank you for complimenting my outfits, laughing at me presenting in class and listening to me complain about my parents. Thank you for sending me your Quizlets and being excited for my accomplishments- every single one of them. I appreciate it all because I know that soon I won’t really see you again. And that makes me sad. I’ll no longer see your face every Monday morning, wave hello to you in the hallways or eat lunch with you ever again. We won't live in the same city and sooner or later you might even forget my name.

We didn’t hang out after school but none the less you impacted me in a huge way. You supported my passions, stood up for me and made me laugh. You gave me advice on life the way you saw it and you didn’t have to but you did. I think maybe in just the smallest way, you influenced me. You made me believe that there’s lots of good people in this world that are nice just because they can be. You were real with me and that's all I can really ask for. We were never in the same friend group or got together on the weekends but you were still a good friend to me. You saw me grow up before your eyes and watched me walk into class late with Starbucks every day. I think people like you don’t get enough credit because I might not talk to you after high school but you are still so important to me. So thanks.

With that said, I truly hope that our paths cross one day in the future. You can tell me about how your brothers doing or how you regret the college you picked. Or maybe one day I’ll see you in the grocery store with a ring on your finger and I’ll be so happy you finally got what you deserved so many guys ago.

And if we ever do cross paths, I sincerely hope you became everything you wanted to be. I hope you traveled to Italy, got your dream job and found the love of your life. I hope you have beautiful children and a fluffy dog named Charlie. I hope you found success in love before wealth and I hope you depended on yourself for happiness before anything else. I hope you visited your mom in college and I hope you hugged your little sister every chance you got. She’s in high school now and you always tell her how that was the time of your life. I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.

And hey, maybe I’ll see you at the reunion and maybe just maybe you’ll remember my face. If so, I’d like to catch up, coffee?

Sincerely,

Me

Cover Image Credit: High school Musical

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Sometimes "Out With The Old In With The New" Isn't the Best thing

We can't lose touch of the simpler things in life

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When I think about how much has changed and how much my world has developed since I was little, I get mind boggled realizing how different things are. I work at a restaurant in the city that I grew up in and I see famillies come and go for dinner every night. They all seem the same. The parents will walk in, check in with the hostesses and wait to be seated. If they're asked to wait, the kids sit by their parents sides playing on phones that are probably too young to have. I understand that waiting can get tedious and boring. By the time that they would sit down, I'd imagine that they would put down the devices and engage in some good old fashion conversation. I was wrong. It made me sad to see kids eating dinners with their families with zero interaction. When I was younger, I enjoyed the quality conversations I would have with my family when we got breaks from our all very hectic schedules. It's amazing how much technology has advanced, but sometimes, I believe that we might rely on it too much.

Seems like more and more things are becoming industrialized. Those "mom and pop" shops are closing down due to corporate companies buying the land. I have enough Walmart and Targets in a ten minute radius from me. Sure, places like these carry necessities are important, but when local Nurseries are closed down in order to build a new gas station, it just becomes sad. As things progress more, the more we lose touch of our roots. The places that make home special and different. The moments we have as a kid that don't involve a light on our face. Modernism is a powerful and amazing thing but we need to take a step back and reevaluate what we hold closest to us.

All in all, as we continue to develop, I will continue to advocate for the simpler moments and the simpler times. I don't think my kids will need iPhones right out of elementary school, I'll continue to visit the same hometown shops and give them as much business as possible, I'll always ask if he kids want coloring sheets at the dinner table. Although these small things might not matter in our everyday new world, they matter to me. I will always try to have so much fun that I forget to document things with my phone. The laughter and memories without the technology present. Those are the moments worth remembering.

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