The Tulane Hullabaloo

College admissions scandal must focus on those impacted most

Michael Chen, General Associate Editor

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In a world where one’s college education is increasingly impacts their success in today’s workforce, many people prioritize having a college degree as an essential path towards financial gain and job stability. With an increasing pool of applicants to colleges and universities nationwide, however, these schools of higher education are forced to accept a lower percentage of students than they have in the past.

Hanson Dai | Associate Artist

The college admissions process is both lengthy and rough, one which usually ends in a mix of acceptances and denials for each high school student. While most students trek through their senior year writing college admissions essays and retaking the SATs, some wealthy students have used their family’s money to bribe their way into college, a scandal that has recently rocked the college admissions process.

Last week, the U.S. Attorney in the District of Massachusetts charged 50 people involved in a multi-million dollar scheme that has impacted many top-tier colleges, including Yale, Stanford, Boston University, University of Southern California and Wake Forest. From bribing college entrance exam officials to using a charitable organization to conceal bribery payments, these parents and coaches twisted their children’s statistics to illegally assist them into gaining acceptance into top colleges and universities.

In addition to the criminal case filed in federal court, multiple parties have also filed class action lawsuits against the colleges named in the admissions scandal, leading to a devastating fallout regarding their reputations. According to Professor of Political Science Scott Nolan, these schools could possibly be in legal trouble.

“In order for them to win a case against the school, rejected students must show that they could have gotten into that specific elite school, given their grades, test scores, resume and extracurriculars.” Nolan said.

If they are successful, these individuals students may get their application fees refunded, but a class action lawsuit has the potential for a much larger gain.

“The real honeypot is the punitive damages, designed to punish the school for engaging in these bribery schemes.” Nolan said. “People and organizations are usually more scared of punitive damages than real money damages. Large punitive damages awards would encourage other schools to pay attention to avoid similar schemes – or face similar consequences.”

While this scandal does not come as a surprise to many, the actions that were made by these parents, coaches and college admissions officials should be deemed as atrocious moves that heavily discriminate against those students who were denied admission into the schools involved. The rich already have multiple advantages in this college admissions process. Wealthy parents can pay for tutors to prepare their children for college entrance exams, allow their children to apply to multiple colleges and are less affected by staggeringly high costs of college tuition.

Already having better GPAs and college entrance exam scores, wealthy children are also open to a more diverse range of internship experiences that they could use to boost their resume. These benefits place children from higher-income families in a considerably more favorable position when they are looking to apply for college.

Students who are not able to access such resources, however, are not so fortunate. Many of them are first-generation students who have had to figure out the college admissions process alone. Not wanting to place such a further burden on their parents who are already working their hardest, they were left in a maze of college application fees, financial aid forms, books and tuition fees.

It is infuriating to see students, not just poor or middle-class students, be robbed of an opportunity that they possibly deserve. The parents involved in the lawsuit did not only take a place that was not rightfully theirs to give to their children, but also prevented others from gaining a chance of growth, change and hope in their lives. The actions that these parents have performed are gross examples of entitlement and corruption that should hold no place in a process that drastically affects the lives of innocents.

The way that colleges review student applications is already being taken into question due to the secrecy behind the holistic review process, and this scandal should do nothing to hide the ugliness of the truth.

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Student newspaper serving Tulane University, Uptown New Orleans
College admissions scandal must focus on those impacted most