It’s no secret that money, a well-known family name and connections can bring advantages when it comes to college. Wealthy and famous families often donate huge amounts of money to the schools they want their children to attend. When families aren’t donating to higher education institutions, they can simply capitalize on their names and connections. Honestly, who could ever deny the kids of an A-list celebrity?
At Harvard, legacy students are five times more likely to get in than the average student. So where do we draw the line? Does a line even exist? Apparently not. After a long-term investigation, it was revealed that 33 parents took matters into their own hands when they tried to get their children into college. Parents had stand-ins take the SAT or ACT for their child and others even went to the extent of photoshopping their student’s head onto the body of an athlete, paying off college coaches and falsifying exam results. These parents spent thousands to millions of dollars trying to get their children into prestigious universities.
This issue brings to light the topic of affirmative action. For years, people have debated over affirmative action. The policy was used to bring more diversity to higher education. By definition, it was created in hopes that it would remedy past discrimination and prevent any discrimination from now on. Despite this, racial diversity is lacking in selective colleges. All we have to do is look to UF, a predominantly white school, with a racial breakdown that can not be considered equally diverse. One of the common phrases used against affirmative action is that it takes spots away from other students. Now, there’s the argument that rich, well-off students are taking just as many spots, if not more than affirmative action does. The argument can certainly be made that the former is more deserving.
However, I believe that college admissions have been rigged for years now, and they only benefit people from certain backgrounds. Even with affirmative action, students from different racial and socio-economic backgrounds barely got into their choice schools. Now add the fact that wealthy families were cheating their way in. It is extremely disappointing and discouraging to students in this country. This scandal highlights the American education system’s inequities. It’s up to universities like the University of Southern California, which was involved in the scandal, to do better or face some sort of punishment.
To make this situation worse, these wealthy parents didn’t have to do this. They could have used their resources to get their children a tutor or invested in their extracurricular activities. These are things many minorities have a serious lack of access to.
Aside from the legality of it all, what makes this wrong is the people it affects. As a college student, I could not imagine ever being denied by UF, and then finding out it might have been because a coach was paid off. Students work extremely hard to get into college. Spots at certain universities were taken because of someone else’s privilege.
All in all, this entire situation is sad. I hope that the families involved face serious consequences and jail time. If not, this will continue to happen and the education system can’t afford it. The U.S. education system still has a lot of work to do, and affirmative action is only the beginning. Hopefully, now parents know the difference between correcting grammar in their student’s college essay and paying someone to write it. Let’s learn from this situation and do better.
Anede Siffort is a UF journalism senior. Her column appears on Fridays.