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College Scandal

By Maddie Holtkamp

On the morning of March 12, 2019, news of a remarkable college scandal was broadcast on radios and televisions across the country. Thirty-three parents allegedly paid millions of dollars to fabricate lives for their children and bribe their way into prestigious colleges. This prompted a widespread conversation around the whole of the college admissions process. At the center of these fabricated photographs, test scores, and credentials is a man by the name of William Rick Singer, the middle man between celebrity parents and top universities such as Yale, USC and Stanford. Singer worked alongside other groups to obtain false records for the ACT and SAT in addition to photoshopping the faces of his clients onto bodies of successful athletes. Singer’s clients paid him anywhere between $200,000 and $6.5 million for his services.

News of this scandal came to me in the form of a text from my mom. It read, “Wow! Giant bust regarding cheating, bribes and falsified documents to get kids into elite colleges. Eye opening and infuriating.” This is, of course, true. The fact that people with disposable income are able to throw around a couple million dollars to ensure their children’s “success” is infuriating. I agree. However, it is more infuriating that the general population doesn’t know that this is a decades-old catastrophe. This particular scandal is only so appalling because these 33 parents are really bad at breaking the law. They got caught. Dozens of buildings have been built on university campuses across the country by “generous donors” whose children just so happen to attend these same universities later on.

As a high school senior waiting to hear back from college, this was relevant to me. I come from a lower middle class, former military family. We’ve never been scraping by, but we’ve never had the luxury of being frivolous. Going to school in an upper middle class neighborhood has given me the gift of being surrounded by kids who come from families with more material possessions. Kids whose families can afford things like standardized test tutors and college advisors. Not only did I never pay a professional in any capacity to review my applications, but I utilized resources that my school made available to me. I worked smarter, because there was no safety net for me to fall back on if my applications didn’t get me where I needed them to. Unlike all of the kids in the College Admission Scandal, and some of the kids at my school, I can proudly say that I earned my way into college on my own merit.

Now, I’m not saying that I’ve never biffed an answer or that I am perfect in anyway. I’m only pointing out that college admissions has never been equal or equitable. It just took a multimillion dollar scandal for the general population’s attention to be drawn to this fact. While these couple dozen kids took spots away from well deserving, hard working students, I am grateful for the fact that this issue has drawn national attention towards our outdated college admission process.

So to all the wealthy people out there who photoshopped their children into college, thank you. Thank you for being the example we needed to finally start this conversation in the first place.


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