So, thanks to a few indictments and arrests, we all know the lengths parents will go to get their children into college. Paying people to take standardized tests. Photoshopping sports pictures. Outright bribes to athletic directors. Crazy, right?
Obviously, we know that getting into college via any one of these days is wrong. Not only is it illegal, it is immoral. It’s cheating of the highest order. These kids do not belong in the schools because they are not as qualified as others who were rejected. They took spots of kids who “deserve” them.
How many kids do you think got into college via the cheating method by their parents? I’m going to say a small percentage. Yes- it happens. Is it a large part of the system? I don’t think so.
But what are other ways kids get into college that could be deemed unfair?
Let’s talk legacies. Legacies are people who have a family history at a particular school. Most often it’s thought of as parents, but can also include grandparents and siblings. There is a misconception that legacies automatically get into a school no matter how bad a student they are. I am going to tell you that is a pretty inaccurate statement. My Daughter has friends and classmates who are legacies. And I am also going to tell you that NOT ONE of her friends who are legacies got into the familial alma mater. Not one. And these are good bordering on exceptional students with all the earmarks of a child that should have a spot. As the admissions counselor at one Ivy said “If we took all the legacies the incoming class size would be about 25,000. So no- people do not get into a school just because there parent went there. In fact, last year at my kid’s school, ten kids applied to a particular Ivy and nine of them were legacies. One child was accepted. And you know that it wasn’t the legacy…
And how about the legacies that are real good with donations. My neighbor- triple legacy (parents, one grandparent and uncle) and the family consistently donated every year, for years. Denied admission. And she was a decent student- not outstanding, but low A average. She is not an exception: we know a lot of families who have given donations and yet their children have not received admission to colleges. And these are decent students.
Clearly not every donor’s child or legacy gets into a school.
One of my blog friend KE said, no child who is subpar should ever get into a school because their parents gave a donation. That’s fair. But don’t subpar students get into schools even when their parents don’t donate money?
Let’s talk about my peeve: college athletics. As Kim stated, without athletics and the subsidies that they provide, the colleges she attended would simply not be able to survive. I get that. I see how much money big time sports programs bring into a school. But isn’t it really the same thing? You might be getting a subpar student in exchange for them playing a sport and that sport brings money into a university. How is that different than getting a subpar student in exchange for a donation? There’s a highly ranked school that also has a wonderful academic reputation- the side reputation is that it’s a tale of two schools- the division 1 athletes who get in without taking standardized tests, and the rest of the school with all SAT scores of 1500+ and ACT scores of 35+. Is that fair that athletes are held to a different standard? You can say that they are particularly gifted in athletics and therefore deserve a place because of this gift. But we can back around to the big donor’s kid: what if they have a special talent of guitar or in some other area? If we are going to hold one group to a standard of academic excellence, then we have to hold all groups to the same standard. Fairness is holding everyone to the same standard.
There’s a whole bunch of other things that happen in admissions. ED, otherwise known as early decision. ED is when a student applies to a school usually by November 1 deadline. But when they apply, they are signing a contract that they are attending the school if they are admitted. No backsies. You are locked in. But here’s the little secret: you can sneak into a really good school via the ED policy. We know kids who were rejected from schools regular decision and they were MUCH stronger all around candidates than kids who were taken ED. Is this fair? Stronger students rejected in favor of students who pledge their eternal love for a school early?
What about having a famous parent? Would Malia get into Harvard if her last name wasn’t Obama? Is there a case to be made that she took the spot of someone who may be more qualified because she was first daughter?
My daughter was the only student from her school to get into a particular college. She knows that two of the students had better averages and scores than her, yet were denied admission. Is that fair? Should admissions be based solely on scores and grades?
Then, you might have people that say: well, you can’t just base admissions on test scores because someone is more than a test score. And grades are subjective…
So what makes one candidate better than another?
Is there anything even vaguely fair about the college admissions process? Should it be based solely on academic prowess? Should special talent be considered along with admissions? What are the things that should go into it?
Is there a way to make the process fair?