By Joycelin Wong
After long nights of studying and endless amounts of school work, students assume that their hard work in high school will pay off in the long run. However, after recent news of the college admissions scandal, Operation Varsity Blues, shocked the world, the college application process would never be the same. While shining a light on prominent ethical issues, the scandals have also prompted the nation’s top universities to enforce stricter admissions requirements and introduce new oversight policies.
Operation Varsity Blues, one of 2019’s biggest scams, exposed the affluent parents that went to great lengths to ensure their children were admitted to the country’s top universities. Some of the nation’s top schools, including University of Southern California, Stanford, University of California - Los Angeles, Yale, and Georgetown, have faced backlash for participating in these corrupt activities.
According to Esquire, FBI documents reveal that over 50 people, including famous actors Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, have been arrested across the country. Aside from parents, dozens of college coaches and test administrators have also been caught up in the heat of the scandal. While some parents paid hefty bribes to improve their children’s test scores, others conspired with athletic officials to photoshop their children into sports teams. These unethical attempts to cheat the system prevented well-deserving students from receiving their spot at their dream schools.
This deceitful scheme uncovered the underlying societal and socioeconomic issues that play a significant role in the college admissions process. Massachusetts’ U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling revealed, “This case is about the widening corruption of elite-college admissions through the steady application of wealth combined with fraud.”
Privileged families utilize their money and power to manipulate a system that greatly favors them. Meanwhile, families with lower incomes don’t have access to the same resources and are often put at a disadvantage.
What does this mean for students preparing for college? Well, universities are still making strides to ensure that the most accomplished students are getting their well-deserved spots at their institutions. The New York Times reveals, “More than 70 institutions, from major universities to small colleges, revealed that a majority had already imposed more stringent athletic recruiting policies.”
Many of the nation’s top schools have opted to enforce stricter admissions requirements, but policy reform will take time to execute. Jerome Lucido, an enrollment researcher at the University of Southern California, emphasizes the urgency for colleges to become transparent about their statistics. Through stricter guidelines and transparency, universities are transforming their application processes to ensure the right students are attending their schools.
Through hefty bribes and corruption, affluent parents went to extremes to commit fraud. Operation Varsity Blues did more than just expose cheating and corruption in the college admissions process; it also brought awareness to the underlying socioeconomic issues that greatly influence a student’s chance of getting accepted into a university. Though many students feel the need to alter themselves to please admissions officers, it’s important for students to strive to become their true selves and to grow as individuals.
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