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College Admissions – A Corrupt Industry

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College Admissions – A Corrupt Industry

Lori Loughlin

Lori Loughlin

Courtesy of CNN

Lori Loughlin

Courtesy of CNN

Courtesy of CNN

Lori Loughlin

Grant Blumberg, Sentry Staff Reporter

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On March 12, 2019, federal prosecutors revealed a conspiracy to influence the admissions decisions at several prominent universities, with 50 people being criminally charged. The esteemed universities alleged to be involved spanned the nation, from Stanford and Georgetown to Texas and Yale. This story, however, highlights a bigger trend in American society over the past decade. More Americans are going to college than ever before, and with that pattern comes increased competition for admission to America’s highest rated universities.

“I am not surprised. I think we have reached a point where people are going to extreme lengths to get students into college. I think college admissions are at an all time high with regards to competitiveness, like nothing we have seen…. But I can not say that I was terribly shocked,” school counselor Austin Hamill said.

Parents used a variety of strategies to increase their child’s odds of being accepted. Some donated large sums of money directly to the institution, some bribed SAT and ACT proctors into either giving aid on the test or fabricating their scores, and some families created fake sport profiles for their children to boost their resumes. One parent allegedly paid in excess of $6.5 million to help their child gain admission to one of the aforementioned universities.

But what caused this spike in competition when it comes to college admissions?  Hamill believes part of the problem is rooted in the application process.

“More students are applying to college with the release of the common application. Things like the Common App and Coalition App are making it easier for kids to apply to college and to more colleges. I was talking to an admissions officer from Penn State and he said that they just started using the Common App this year, and the [number of] applications went up 47 percent. So I think what you are seeing is that students are able to kill a bunch of birds with one stone with the Common Application. So why not apply to ten [schools], whereas in the past if I had to do separate applications for each school I would maybe just do five… The harder schools are becoming harder and then it trickles down. So the schools that ten years ago were not as competitive are becoming quite difficult for students to get into,” Hamill said.

The scandal has also alarmed students here at school. Seniors are all too familiar with the competitiveness of college admissions, having gone through the process just this year. The University of Southern California, one of the colleges involved in the scandal, received over 60,000 applications this year. One of those applicants is senior Ethan Gerlach.

“When I first heard about the scandal I was shocked. I could not believe that people would lie so blatantly but after some thought, it made some sense. I am sure there are all kinds of scandals similar to this one that have never been revealed. I just did not think the lying would be as outright and blatant as faking sports certificates and paying people to falsify scores,” Gerlach said.

In Arlington, college admissions can become fierce, and students are often competitive with one another regarding the application process. Gerlach, however, is not bitter about the situation.

“Maybe I should feel more frustrated, but to be honest I think the number of people who cheated their way into college is pretty small and does not have a giant effect on me,” Gerlach said.

The scandal has sparked a national debate regarding corruption in the world of college admissions. With parents more willing than ever to splash cash on getting their students into the country’s most prestigious universities, it is necessary to remember what the purpose of college admissions is: finding the right place for you. Whether it has a particular sports team or academic program that you want, pick the school that is the best for you – not the one with the best reputation.

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College Admissions – A Corrupt Industry