Kids Coddled By Wealth & The Implications of the College Admissions Scandal

Yes, even Aunt Becky is being accused of participating in the college admissions scandal.

While this news is shocking for some, this didn’t come to a shock to my fellow college students and I. We know the system is broken. Colleges, even public universities, are profit-driven. Education at this level has a high market value above its head.

On Tuesday, over 50 people were arrested for participating in a scheme to falsify test scores and for bribing coaches at prestigious universities. While this scheme is egregious in nature and unfair to the hard-working students who were denied as a result, there is a larger problem at hand.

Both my mother and father worked tirelessly so that I would be able to get a stellar education at my former high school. My mother, a state investigator, and my father, a heavy-machinery mechanic, instilled in me the values of dedication and hard work. No one exemplifies hard work more than my parents, and I have an endless amount of gratitude for them. Without them, I would be no where near where I am today: at the prestigious University of Florida.

As a recent graduate of a private Catholic high school, I can attest to the other games that are played by wealthy families that give their children the upper hand. Unfortunately, admissions decisions are based largely off standardized testing like the SAT and ACT. Because of this, well-off families are able to hire private tutors to ensure that their child achieves high scores. While there is nothing inherently wrong with this, students of wealthier families are automatically placed above those of lower economic status.

No, I did not have one of these tutors and yes, I went through an 800 page ACT prep book all on my own. While testing wasn’t an issue for me, I couldn’t help but think about the students who were genuinely struggling who didn’t have the means to get a high-priced tutor.

The breaking of this college admissions scandal isn’t surprising in the least. We all know that legacy kids and families of wealth have the upper hand. From expensive standardized test tutors to essay coaches, wealthy families can coddle their children with a safety blanket of wealth rather than teaching them the value of hard work.

This creates another problem: how do we admit college-hopefuls when there is such an unfair playing field? My first response would be to look at academic merit rather than standardized test scores, but that can prove to be problematic as well. However, academic merit is much more indicative of a student’s work ethic and intellectual aptitude as it spans four years of work rather than the results of a single test.

While the college admissions scandal is important, there are numerous reforms we can be focusing on rather than the misdeeds of Aunt Becky.

We need to enhance education for those in K-12, to solidify the building blocks of success. There are real inequalities that exist at all levels of life, especially for those of minority groups. These inequalities have cascading effects that transgress generations. Inequality at all levels needs to be addressed and is the first step toward leveling the playing field.

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