This summer, the college admissions scandal shocked many Americans, being the source of both disappointment and outrage. The scandal consisted of efforts by a number of wealthy Americans to buy their children's way into the most prestigious American universities.
These efforts included faking learning disabilities in order for the applicant to be accommodated with a proctor (who would ensure they got their answers correct), ensuring a girl who has never touched a soccer ball in her life would apply as a star athletic recruit and cultivating a fraudulent persona by framing an applicant who has little or no experience rowing as a competitive crew player. The institutions in the news are Stanford University, the University of Southern California and Yale University. This upset many people on the basis of illicit and immoral acts. Americans were upset due to the fact that these individuals had not gotten their admission into these institutions the honest way. The treasured American myth of meritocracy was transgressed. As a result, people were enraged.
However, there are many people, like myself, who are not surprised. The key player in the cheating scandal, William Singer, postulated three "doors" within the college admissions process. The first door is the one we idealize, pretending it is the only route which exists. That door is that of academic honesty and rigor; it embodies the idea that if one works hard and is deserving of a place at these competitive institutions, they will be accepted. The second door is that of which the legacies of these schools utilize. These methods are not illegal but selfishness is implicit; a student with a library named after them and a long line of predecessors who attended "X" institution has a significantly higher chance of getting in than someone who doesn't. The third door is Singer's own method; faking learning disabilities, buying exam scores, doctoring transcripts and feigning athletic prowess where it does not exist.
While the media has become fixated with the moral violations of the scandal, there has been little discussion of the ethical violations that occur each year during college application season. Firstly, there are systematic inequities that are inherent in the education system as it currently stands. The discrepancies between what public schools get funding for and how much of it is blatantly based on the socioeconomic conditions of the school, its student's and the type of area the school is located. It is clear that public schools within inner cities receive less funding than charter schools in suburban areas in spite of the fact that former schools severely need the money. In turn, the academic opportunities for students at these schools with less funding is hindered immensely which keeps them from being able to compete with more privileged students for the same school. Similarly, even the high schools that claim admission to be based on scores on standardized testing, such as Stuyvesant High School in New York City, only admitted 7 Black students this year in spite of the fact many more scored high enough to be admitted.
These are things that take place, or, are known to take place and then are simply overlooked. Many criticize affirmative action but don't express the same sentiments for legacy students and recruited athletes. Overall, the college admissions scandal is upsetting but is in no way unprecedented. The same way the media was keen to condemn those involved with the illicit acts that have taken place is the same way those who partake in non-honest, over the books admissions and institutionalized educational discrimination need to be criticized.
The energy and level of activism reprimanding the acts regarding these famous and/or affluent applicants need to be exercised for those who are unfairly disadvantaged in the educational system nationwide consistently. If America genuinely cares about upholding an honest admissions process to top-tier institutions we as a whole need to suspend the massive belief in meritocracy and get real about who is earning their place, who is able to work towards consideration in the admissions process and who is merely buying their way in.
Lead Image Credit: Pexels