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 by Jon Burras
College Admissions:
A Scandal All by Itself
2019 Spectator Ron - The Spectator All Rights Reserved
     In March of 2019 we awoke to a brand new scandal that had just surfaced and was making headline news. Allegedly, a plot was unearthed where an intermediary had accepted large amounts of money to help wealthy people place their children into highly regarded colleges. Large sums of money were paid out to college coaches, administrators and several others. Most people felt a sense of outrage when they heard the news that wealthy people and some celebrities were buying favors while working class people might be denied admissions into colleges despite working hard and having good grades.
     This entire affair stunk of another episode of class warfare. The rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer. Rich people and celebrities were able to buy things that others could not get. Not only were they skirting moral proprietary issues they were also allegedly breaking the law. In this case a college admissions for a son or daughter of a wealthy person is what was being traded on the open market.
     While this event works its ways through the courts and public outrage begins to diminish, this should be a very gallant wake up call to the entire process of college admissions. By and large, college admissions have never been fair and by themselves have always had many layers of corruption and inequality. In addition to this recent event, college admissions are a scandal in and of themselves.
     First off, there is legal corruption and then there is illegal corruption. What we have seen as of late tends to lean towards the illegal corruption in regard to college admissions. In other words, laws were broken. However, much of college admissions corruption is completely legal. For instance, a wealthy businessman, celebrity or politician might donate a large amount of money to a university. This monetary donation might be intended for the general scholarship fund of the university or for a more specific purpose-like to have a building or science wing of a building named after the wealthy sponsor. We all know what this is for. This money is a legal bribe so that the wealthy individual will have his son or daughter easily admitted into the school. This method of college admission scandals is completely legal and has been occurring for hundreds of years.
     It might be more common than one thinks that a wealthy parent is able to donate a sum of money to a school or school administrator so that the child might gain admission. Through alumni associations, fundraisers and other avenues, money is sometimes changing hands so that someone can bypass the normal channels of school admissions. Look no further than the legacy admissions process. While money may or may not be changing hands, if one or more family members have attended a university then you too are more likely to be accepted, despite what your academic score might be. This process too has been a normal and legal method used for a very long time.
     Colleges routinely accept bribes for school admissions. This is especially true when it comes to foreign or out of state students. Students from foreign countries and other states will often pay double the price of admissions compared to a student who is a resident of that particular state and a citizen of the United States. These payments are essentially bribes. For instance, UCLA has one of the highest rates of foreign student enrollment, nearly 15 % of the entire student body. Currently there are over eight-hundred thousand foreign students studying at American universities.
     UCLA, a school partially funded by state tax payers, receives these foreign students with open arms because the university receives much more money in tuition payments. You might not be able to get into a school like this because there are so many foreign students enrolled that they have taken up many of the available slots. Doesn't it seem criminal that a state funded school is not accepting its own citizens first? When you account for the extra tuition costs received by colleges for foreign and out of state tuition you will begin to know why.
     Also, a foreign student will come to the Untied States on a student visa but there is no accountability that this student will ever leave once his visa expires. Colleges are not held accountable for making sure that a student exits the country when the visa expires. Most of the 9/11 hijackers where in the United States from Saudi Arabia on expired student visas. Why don't we make colleges responsible? If they are eager to invite a student in they should be just as eager to make sure that a student leaves on time. Maybe financial penalties or a large bond would ensure that these students go back home after their visa expires.
     Foreign students admitted to universities and colleges are not always students. As we have seen, sometimes they are here as terrorists masquerading as students. There have been times where foreign students have been found to be spies who were trying to gather as much intelligence on the United States as possible. Often a foreign student will return back to his home country and take the knowledge that he has learned in America to try to defeat America. We have seen instances where Chinese students come to American universities to learn such subjects as advanced physics and nuclear engineering only to return to their homeland to work for their government on weapons programs to defeat America. One of our greatest assets is knowledge and we freely export it to others around the world who are trying to undermine us. College admission departments don't care what a student's intentions are for being here. They just want the large foreign fees that these students have to pay.
     Next we have the scandal of how many students are admitted into colleges because they have an extremely high GPA (like 4.3). This result is achieved because some high schools offer Advanced Placement classes (AP) that are considered college level courses. These students get extra credit for taking these courses and thus rise above others in admissions. What happens to the smart kids who attend a high school where AP classes are not offered? Is this not discrimination where one student is able to raise his GPA to appeal to the admissions departments while another student is not able to do so? It seems reasonable that college courses should be taught in college and high school courses taught in high school but is seems unfair to have some high schools teaching college level courses where other high schools are not able to do so. All grades are not the same.
     While it might be a controversial topic, not all people admitted to college are there because they earned the grades to be there. We have in place a program called Affirmative Action. This is a reparations program where some African Americans are able to bypass normal admissions procedures while not being admitted on merit. They are admitted because of the color of their skin. The belief is that slavery (now ended nearly one-hundred and seventy years ago) has left a lasting mark on many African Americans that they are still not able to get ahead on their own and require special help. Whether you agree or disagree with Affirmative Action or not, it is a system that bypasses admission into a college by merit.
     Another controversial college admissions loophole is how children referred to as DACA (Deferred Action Childhood Arrivals) are able to be admitted to colleges and universities. These are young adults who have no legal status in the country but have temporary protection provided for them by former President Barrack Obama. One side of thinking says that since these people are already here why not help them make the best of their lives and grant them the ability to work legally and earn college degrees. The other side of the argument states that these individuals are in the country illegally and should not be taking the slot of an American citizen at a university or college. Why should state tax payers have to partially fund an education for someone who is here illegally? No matter which side of the fence you are on, the reality is that not everyone is admitted to a college on merit and a smart United States citizen might not be able to be admitted to a college because others with special circumstances have taken his spot.
     It is also scandalous of colleges to have athletic programs where student athletes who really do not want to be studying at all are taking up classroom seats instead of those who really value an education. Schools spend an enormous amount of money on their athletic programs, most of which are a financial burden to the school. Only football and at times men's basketball programs actually make any money. Colleges are wasting classroom space on those athletes who just wish to play a sport and hope to move through the college system and on to a professional career.
     As you can see, a small scandal in the public eye involving a few celebrities is nothing compared to the deeper politics of college admissions. While most of these scandals are completely legal, their moral objectives can certainly be questioned. Being admitted to a college because you worked hard, got good grades and obeyed the rules might not be enough in today's climate. Many people are accepted into college not by merit but by special privileges. Life is not fair; neither are college admission guidelines.