Nearly 50 individuals ranging from CEOs to celebrities to college athletic coordinators were taken into custody for cheating, lying, and blatantly buying their students’ way into college. The parents culpability is undeniable, but there is more to the story than the tabloid headlines of prominent families abusing their position. What does this mean for the future of the college admissions process? Will schools be forced to reform their practices and be more transparent about the academic qualities they are looking for? Or will academia finally acknowledge that it is not as altruistic as it once claimed and is beholden to, gasp, a profit motive?
This Doesn’t Begin to Address the Cheating
The extent of illegal behavior suggested here is almost immaterial – the legal cheating and rigging of the college admissions process speaks to a much broader problem. Top universities have long rigged their admissions – be it to favor wealthy applicants, athletes, or minorities – in order to improve their own financial, competitive, and diversity pictures. Universities should be interested in self-policing and restoring meritocracy to both the admissions and academic experiences.
The End Of Standardized Tests
The cheating scandal pointed out the lengths students and parents would go to in order to increase their scores on the SAT and ACT, and some view it as a potential catalyst to end the use of standardized tests in admissions decisions. Charges of racial and socioeconomic biases have plagued the tests for years, so they were hardly beyond reproach even before the scandal broke.
The irony is that standardized tests are arguably one of the most transparent parts of the college admissions process – without a comparable, numerical measure of applicants, would that invite more corruption and present more opportunities for rigged applications and decisions?
Partisan Ideals Emerge Already
While Republicans are pointing out the monopoly that traditional higher education institutions enjoy, their lack of transparency, and the need to reform the educational system, Democrats are pointing to the preferential treatment of white students and the lack of opportunities to students of color as reasons to promote more affirmative action programs. Given the preference for not just wealthy students but also for athletes and legacy students, the schools motivations are quite clear – money. Is that something that should or can be changed?