College Scandals

Nia Wilkerson, Writer

When you think of college, you usually associate it with lecture halls, degrees, meeting new people or partying at frat house. Admission scandals typically aren’t the first thing that come to mind. There have been more and more scandals coming about in the media as the years have passed, showing how willing colleges are to taking bribes. Certain methods of fraudulent admissions include cheating on college entrance exams, fabricating sports credentials and simply parents using their millions to convince admission directors to accept their child. Although incredibly wrong, even major universities such as Harvard, Princeton, Yale and University of Southern California are involved in these crimes. Those who participate in this type of fraud are only bringing down the education system as a whole and ridding someone of a chance to go to their dream school just because it’s “easier” than actually putting in the work.


Now college admission scandals didn’t start with the famous TV stars Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman a few months back. Unfortunately, this has been a problem for many years, it just hasn’t been as well known to the public. For instance, the University of Illinois has been admitting unqualified applicants into their school for well over a decade. This is due to the fact that these students have significant ties with political leaders who could give back to the school in a great financial way. A student could pass with a 700 on the SAT and have a 2.5 GPA and still get accepted since they have wealthy family members and friends. This isn’t uncommon amongst other colleges nationwide, however the University of Illinois is most prevalent. It was named “Category I” for those who incorporated themselves in these admission deals and during the years 2005-2009 alone, at least 800 students benefited. Coming to terms with the facts, the United States is a capitalist country and the idea of money controls our society. Which explains why some universities are willing to accept basically anyone as long it means they receive a couple million dollars in return. It makes no difference on how educated or qualified you are, in the end, colleges will always favor the wealthy.


While on the subject of money, there have been numerous cases of students who decide to pay others to take their SAT and ACT exams. People will pay hundreds of dollars for someone to pose as them on the big day and get a high score. It may seem like a good idea at the time, but most don’t realize the extreme consequences that will befall on them if and when they eventually get caught. Very few succeed in actually beating the system and getting away with cheating on a college entrance exam. New York high school students in Long Island in 2011, were not a part of this group of people. In fact, 20 out of the so-called 50 students involved ended up getting charged. Fake identification cards were used to gain access to testing centers and the students were paid within the range of $500 to over $3,000 by their “customers”. Some may question what has been done to students that lead them to go to such extraordinary measures. In a word, pressure. It’s no doubt that the SAT and ACT exams are the gateway into college, and the stakes have only increased. Then there’s the competitive parents who put an astounding amount of intimidation on their kids. These factors push students to take the risk and cheat on exams in order to make their loved ones proud and have a sense of reassurance.


Fraudulent use of money isn’t the only way into college, lying on college applications provides a way in as well. In 2010, Adam Wheeler took full advantage of this fact when he got accepted into an Ivy League, Harvard University, by completely falsifying every single one of his academic accomplishments. Some of those “accomplishments” included him achieving stellar SAT scores, attending the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Phillips Andover Academy, along with him declaring that he published a novel. With lies lies like that, it’s no wonder that an elite college would want a student like that in their environment. Of course, Adam Wheeler couldn’t live a lie forever. After three years of being a committed Harvard student, Wheeler was caught and finally taken into custody on account of 20 charges, larceny, forgery and identity fraud being some of them. You would think that would be the last of Harvard being involved in admission crimes after an outbreak like Adam Wheeler lying on his application. Nevertheless, that was just the beginning.


The major problem associated with bribing and/or lying your way into college is that it automatically brings downfall upon others. Imagine someone who has become so invested in going to college that they push themselves to work hard 24/7 throughout their years of school, then they’re hit with the waitlist since someone chose to take the easy way out to force their way in. What makes it even more infuriating is that most of the people that end up cheating their way in, aren’t even serious about college itself! They just want to party and have a place to stay away from their parents, meanwhile the people who actually want to benefit from the university’s education, have to settle for their second or third choice. In relations to this, it all ties in to the Lori Loughlin scandal where her daughter Olivia Jade stated that she didn’t care about college but her mother still paid $500,000 dollars to get her into University of Southern California.


Overall, all of these college scandals are hopefully bringing our society to realize that these upper education systems only have dollar signs in their eyes and whenever they have cash offered to them, they pounce. Not only does our educational systems need to change, but also our general values. Letting these unqualified students into various campuses only minimize our faith and interest in the colleges around us.