Opinion: Navigating the College Application Process


The 2019 college admissions bribery scandal came as a shock to millions of Americans, many of whom have lost faith in the integrity of admissions counselors, standardized test administrators, and college athletics coaches.  

As a junior, I am beginning my college admissions process in the same boat as most other students across the country. That is, my parents don’t have millions of dollars to throw at anyone who can get me into an elite school. And like many other students my age, this scandal has affected me in such a way that my I feel less of a desire to perform well on my SATs and ACTs, impress my interviewers, and even build my resume. If Olivia Jade didn’t have to ace her standardized tests or try out for that crew team, why should I have to work so much harder? 

I have often been reminded of the two things I cannot change about my college application: my race and my gender. Because many colleges aim to enroll a relatively equal number of students of different races, genders, and ethnicities, being white and a girl, a popular demographic, may be a reason why I get denied from any given school. However, this scandal has made it clear that economic status can be just as relevant as my physical characteristics when it comes to my application. If there are people who are willing to give a school enormous amounts of money to allow their kids to attend, then that student has claimed a spot that a more deserving but less wealthy student could have filled.  

There’s also the debate regarding contributions of benefactors to university projects, which may grant their children and grandchildren the ability to attend the university. It has been recently debated whether this is more ethical than parents whose objective is to give whatever it takes for their child to be accepted. The main difference here is that benefactors are providing funds that will go directly toward the school, while Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman’s “donations” were accepted by individual self-interested people with the right connections. In both cases, the rich are exerting their wealth to give their children an advantage over more qualified applicants 

Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of this scandal is that high school students have no choice but to proceed through this arguably unjust system with the hopes that their grades, test scores, and resumes will be enough to get them into their top school choices. To those whose academic and occupational futures are dependent on their high school performance, these reports of cheating and bribery reinforce the fact that the wealthy will forever have an advantage. I am fortunate enough to have been born into a family that can afford to send me both to a private high school and to college, but unlike Huffman and Loughlin’s daughters, I will earn my college acceptances without the need for bribery.