Is the college admissions process rigged? | The Tylt
In addition to studying and taking advanced courses, students dedicate hours to extracurricular activities in order to entertain any hope of getting into a top college. According to admission boards across the country, competition is fierce, but the admissions system reliably identifies top students for acceptance. But with cheating scandals in mind, some question whether or not the admission process is really a rigged for rich people and those of privilege. What do you think?
Is the college admissions process rigged?
In March of 2019, dozens of parents were indicted for participating in a massive cheating scandal in order to get their children into top colleges. CNN's Eric Levenson and Mark Morales report:
Federal prosecutors said the scheme had two major pieces. In the first part, parents allegedly paid a college prep organization to take the test on behalf of students or correct their answers. Secondly, the organization allegedly bribed college coaches to help admit the students into college as recruited athletes, regardless of their actual ability, prosecutors said.
50 people, including parents, administrators, coaches, exam proctors, and celebrities Felicity Huffman of "Desperate Housewives" and Lori Loughlin of "Full House," have been charged with committing these crimes between 2011 and 2019. Andrew Lelling, the U.S. attorney for Massachusetts, had this to say about the case:
"This case is about the widening corruption of elite college admissions through the steady application of wealth combined with fraud," Lelling said.
This case further demonstrates those with means can manipulate the college admissions process to work in their favor. With stories like these in mind, students are left to wonder if they're working towards an obtainable goal, or if the system is against them.
Despite the scandal, the actions of some do not reflect the majority. In other words, some corruption and abuse of power does not mean the entire system is corrupt. One person responded to the question on Quora, "Is the college admission process rigged?" saying that despite "occasional cases of cronyism and nepotism," neither are "prevalent."
Another writer added:
There are biases in academia, but “rigged” carries an implication of something fraudulent or deceitful. I think colleges are pretty open about their biases.
Some feel that as bachelor degrees have become the expectation for many jobs, admission to college is now equally competitive. Forbes' Ryan Craig points out the greater changes in America's collegiate system:
Over the past half century, American higher education has expanded from an elite audience to the mass market. Unfortunately, expansion in market size has not been accompanied by a concomitant expansion in product diversity.
As a result, students are desperate for a way to stand out. If you want to get a top job, you now need a degree from a top university. Many feel this desperation for high status encourages the wealthy to buy their way into the system, rather than work for it.
According to The Atlantic's Jeffrey Selingo, the college admissions process is evolving, but it still has the same goal: to provide an equal chance for admission to all students. He points out that although SAT scores and GPA used to be the top two indicators for college admissions, schools are looking to other factors in order to differentiate students with similar grades.
Some colleges are dropping the SAT and ACT score requirements altogether, acknowledging that high scores are tied to wealth:
More than 1,000 colleges nationwide have come to a similar conclusion about standardized tests, having dropped them as an admissions requirement. That number includes even some selective campuses such as George Washington, Wake Forest, and Wesleyan. There are good arguments supporting these schools’ decisions: for instance, that standardized test scores are highly correlated with family income.
There's no question that the college admissions process should constantly evolve in order to maintain fair standards. As long as universities continue to acknowledge existing biases and work to rectify them, students will benefit.