FOCUS: Bribery, corruption and schemes have tarnished the credibility of college

As students grow older, many are faced with the prospect of attending college, and it often serves as motivation to perform well in their academics and extracurriculars. Students join clubs and sports and take higher level classes all with the hope of attending their dream college. However, due to incidents like the 2019 College Admission Scandals, some students are discouraged in their work, believing that they can not compete with those wealthier than them.

In 2019, the FBI discovered that multiple parents had bribed top colleges like Stanford, Yale, Northwestern and Georgetown into accepting their children. According to the United States Department of Justice, the guilty parties were sentenced anywhere from a few months to two years in prison. Former Stanford sailing coach, John Vandemoer, was found guilty of accepting $610,000 in bribes and the resulting punishment was one day in jail with a $10,000 fine, according to the Insider.

Junior Daniel Martínez, believes wealthier students have always had the advantage in terms of education.

“(Wealthier) parents have lots of knowledge on what to do to get their kids into college,” Martínez said. “They can put them with tutors and sign them up for any extracurriculars, which can help (them) get into a better college.”

Senior Sierra Yang is inclined to agree that people in higher social classes are privileged in terms of the college admission process.

“If you are wealthy, obviously, you go to wealthier schools and get access to a (better) education so you are going to get higher grades, whereas someone who comes from a low-income family might go to a (worse) school and not do as well.” Yang said.

Freshman Annika Agarwal believes the college admissions system is structured in a way that prioritizes privileged people over others.

“People are buying their way in, and it does not give a chance for other people to help themselves,” Agarwal said. “The ones who start out low cannot even improve because the people who are already at the top stay there.”

Freshman Mikaela Casius agrees with Agarwal as she believes the corruption of the college admissions system benefits certain social groups.

“I feel like if you are white, you probably have a higher chance (of attending a good college) because you are white, and a white person is mostly privileged compared to someone who is of color,” Casius said.

In contrast, freshman Andi Porter, believes that one’s academic success is still a leading factor in college admissions. She believes that money may be important, but it is not a determining factor.

“In my opinion, I do not think it is all about wealth,” Porter said. “I think a lot of it is about what you know and what you can achieve. That really gets you someplace. But yeah, when you are good in your academics, you are bound to get scholarships.”

Some students, like Agarwal, believe there is no solution for the problem of bribery in the school system.

“I guess it really depends on the person who is interviewing or selecting. Not everyone is like that (corrupt). Some people have different views,” Agarwal said. “I do not think there really is a way to get them (colleges) to stop accepting bribes.”

Others, like Casius, choose to remain positive and wait for government intervention. They hope to see more laws that will help prevent prejudice from entering a college’s admission process.

“I understand why they are accepting people who are privileged and have money because they need the money,” Casius said. “So, I feel like (higher) taxes should be given to schools and all that because taxes should be able to bring in the money they need.”