College Scandal: Does Merit Still Matter?
By KAREN CHEN
Are you expecting to get into top schools because you have high SAT scores and a good GPA? Well, sorry to burst your bubble, but the college admissions systems in the United States is broken, and merit is no longer a guarantee of admission, as a recent scandal has shown.
The news first broke when Ruby Meredith, the women’s soccer coach at Yale University, agreed to enroll the daughter of Morrie Tobin, a Los Angeles financial executive, into the school for a $450,000 bribe.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, 50 people, including Hollywood actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, and Bill McGlashan, a former CEO, have since been connected to the scandal.
Schools involved in this scandal include top universities such as Yale, Georgetown, Stanford, UCLA, the University of San Diego, the University of Southern California, the University of Texas, and Wake Forest.
U.S. News reported that families that were a part of the scandal paid William “Rich” Singer, a college consultant, a large sum of money “to bribe coaches and falsify athletic profiles so their kids would be recruited as athletes despite not playing a sport, and to bribe test proctors to change students’ test scores to get their children into competitive schools.”
“I actually find it quite hilarious,” said Karen Lu ’20, “because people are paying a ridiculous amount of money to get their kids into schools that they could get in for free by taking tests like the rest of us.”
Junior President Jonathan Li ’20 said, “I honestly cannot say that I’m surprised because this has been happening for so long, and it’s about time it actually came out. I just think it’s sad that celebrities or people with some sort of power feel that they have the obligation to cheat their way in instead of working towards it like everyone else.”
As junior year is coming to an end, many juniors, like me, are starting to prepare their college applications by looking at schools with programs that interest them. Many of these schools are, of course, top universities. But are we willing to spend $80 to apply for a college that will possibly neglect our accomplishments and give admission instead to someone whose parent has power and wealth?
Li said, “Colleges should definitely find another way to admit students. Gaining admission into a college should be based on merit and your accomplishments, not because you have wealthy parents or power to bypass the process.”
One idea is to create a system where colleges sell 10% of their spots outright to the highest bidder and use that money to give scholarships to the rest of the applicants. A system like this would allow low income students to be enrolled in top schools without worrying about high tuition fees. Furthermore, the money would be put into good use instead of going into the pockets of a bribee.
Wei Hang Hong ’19 said, “Well, even if you get accepted to a good college, if you can’t afford it, you still can’t go. So if they give seats to the rich people and provide scholarships for the poor people, more poor people are actually going to be able to go to that school.”
Despite this, top universities are not the only options; there are many other schools that deserve attention.
Li said, “Elite colleges are for sure overrated. The fact that we call them elite adds to society viewing some schools as better than others. I disagree with the fact that because you go to Harvard, you are somehow better than someone who decided to go to Brooklyn College or a local school.”
“Either way,” Li said, “if you’re trying to further your education and work towards getting a job, the name of the college shouldn’t matter. Look at all the people who made it in life who didn’t attend an ‘elite’ college. Honestly, just make the best of where you end up going.”