College scam highlights large problems

Connor KocklerColumn, Opinion, Print Editions, Print Sartell - St. Stephen, Print St. Joseph0 Comments

It was a shock to many Americans when federal prosecutors in Massachusetts announced charges against 50 people for one of the biggest college admissions scams in American history. As a college student myself, it was disappointing to see a system that advertises itself as being based on merit and effort was being blatantly undermined. Unfortunately, with how important college is becoming to succeeding in careers and society, the problems with college admissions need to be fixed in order to restore confidence in the system among parents, students and society.

The scam in question had been running for about eight years and allegedly involved a man named William Singer running a “college counseling” business that actually used two fraudulent methods to get the children of wealthy clients into top universities. First, Singer would tell parents to get their children classified as needing special accommodations for taking college exams such as the ACT and SAT. The students would then be able to choose to go to a testing center under Singer’s “control” where someone paid by Singer would be able to fix the test to give the student a good score.

Secondly, the scheme allegedly paid multiple coaches at universities to classify the students of Singer’s clients as athletic recruits so they would then be accepted by the university, despite having few to no actual athletic credentials. These students would then not even play the sport they were accepted for even once they were at university.

While the people involved in this scandal are facing jail time and other penalties, it has bad implications for the college process across the country. This scam is so disturbing considering the high stakes and pressure that is on students and parents now to get their kids into a good university from an early age. Well-known universities have reputations, credentials and resources that can jumpstart a young person’s career, especially if they are a first-generation college student.

The schools involved in this scandal also represent some of the biggest names you might have heard in education – Georgetown, Stanford, Yale; these are some of the most prestigious and well known universities in the country and perhaps the world as well. They receive huge numbers of applications each year, and have very low admissions rates. For many students, it’s a dream to be able to receive admission to these schools.

With so much on the line, it’s important this scam and other factors involving college admissions are addressed. This should be done to ensure a fair and merit-based system for young people around Minnesota and the United States hoping to get a good hearing when they apply to universities that may shape the course of the rest of their lives.

I am glad universities are checking to see whether this fraud affected them and taking steps to prevent such actions again, but there are also other problems that exist within the college admissions system. The U.S. attorney mentioned when announcing the charges that this isn’t buying a building to ensure admission for your student. But making large donations of this type is possible for some families.

Outside of paying for buildings, wealthier families can afford expensive tutors, fancy private schools and private counselors to give their kids an edge in getting to the Ivy League or any other school. Legacy admissions policies also make it easier for families that already have made it into America’s elite schools to get their students in, making it even harder for qualified but otherwise less connected students to get admitted.

If we as a country are committed to creating a society where anyone can get ahead if they work hard enough, we should do more to ensure young students, especially those with less connections or resources, are able to attend top universities and achieve their full potential. We as Americans should pay attention to the higher education system in this country and advocate every student get a fair shake for admission. They might just be the next person to change the world.

Connor Kockler is a student at St. John’s University. He enjoys writing, politics and news, among other interests.

Author: Connor Kockler

Kockler enjoys extensive reading, especially biographies and historical novels, and he has always had an almost inborn knack for writing well. He also enjoys following the political scene, nationally and internationally. In college, his favorite subjects are political science and economics. Two of his other hobbies are golfing and bicycling.

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