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College Talk Blog

Admission Scandal Shows Parent Stake in College Admission Outcomes

Getting into college is hard. Scamming your way into college is harder...and you can pull hard time for doing it. The amount of money and effort put out by parents caught up in the recent admissions scam is staggering. What I have trouble understanding is why they did it. Did an admission decision mean so much to their self esteem they were willing to pay any amount to achieve that end? Were they planning on having someone attend classes and take exams for their kids too? Did they realize they were stealing an admission decision from another more deserving student?

There is generally a sound reason when students do not get into a particular college. That reason is: for the demographic group the student represents, he or she was less competitive for that school, scammers excepted. From where I sit, sometimes not being admitted to a particular college can be a blessing. If the GPA and test scores of a student are below the average of a college, is it a good idea for that student to have to compete with students whose academic achievement puts them at such an advantage? I think not. 

There are so many ways to help a student reach their potential which can include community colleges, internships, apprenticeships and four year colleges that will be the best match for their current level of academic achievement. The student who is not ready for super competitive universities today, may be quite ready at the end of their sophomore year in community college or a more moderately challenging four year college.

The parents in this scandal who thought they were helping their kids have not only ruined their own lives but they've damaged their kids in the process-even if their kids did not know what they were doing. In their quest to enhance their family reputation and prestige, they have done the opposite for their family and inflicted harm on families of honest, hard-working students.

The fallout from this could be staggering and affect every future college applicant. For example, will fewer high schools be willing to host college testing days? Will SAT and ACT test costs go up so that College Board and ACT can implement better test security? Will college application fees rise so that colleges can have staffing and electronic checks and balances to scrutinize student backgrounds to assure they actually were athletes or involved in other extracurriculars? Worse than that...will public suspicion that college admission decisions can be manipulated be taken for granted by everyone and will this scandal discourage student achievement? 

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