Twitter was alive over the past week with jabs at Aunt Becky and the other wealthy folks who bribed their childrens’ way into college. Yes, this makes for some entertaining jokes, but under all the likes and retweets is a somber truth: our current system says anything is possible for the wealthy.
For those who are unaware, the man behind this monster scandal is William Rick Singer, CEO of college prep company The Key. According to CNN, Singer took bribe money disguised as donations to his company and used it to help parents get their children admitted to prestigious universities, such as Wake Forest, University of Southern California, and Georgetown, based on illegitimate test scores or by extorting the athletic recruitment systems.
As college students, the rigors of standardized testing, college searches and applications aren’t that far behind us. Many of us crunched the numbers just to find that our dream schools weren’t possible.
No wonder we take this scandal personally — the spots taken by these kids could have been given to us, or to someone who earned it on their own merit. At least they would’ve been grateful to land a spot at that college, unlike former “Full House” star Lori Loughlin’s daughter, who openly said she didn’t care about school.
This scandal — hopefully — is a breed of its own, but it still draws attention to other sketchy ways in which the rich are prioritized when it comes to admissions. It’s no secret that many colleges give priority to applicants whose relatives give large donations to the schools and to legacies.
According to a Huffpost article, the legacy acceptance rate at Harvard stood at approximately 34 percent, while that of non-legacies was 5.9 percent from 2009-2012.
At SIUE, children of alumni have the opportunity to benefit from exclusive scholarship opportunities. Every year, the Alumni Association’s Board of Directors awards two full-ride scholarships to children, grandchildren, siblings and spouses of alumni, along with five $500. While this is very different from bribing admissions, it still gives students an advantage based on something they have no control over: where their relatives went to school.
On a lesser scale, students whose parents invest in their education are at an advantage as well. While two students may have equal drives to succeed, the one whose parents pay for college prep classes, private tutors and other resources, such as interview coaches, are at a great advantage.
For those fortunate enough to have parents or others who invest heavily in their education, or whose relatives’ decisions helped them to earn other scholarships, it’s okay for them to take advantage of it. However, they should be grateful for the support. At the very least, they shouldn’t openly declare that they don’t care about their education.