Point: Do donations to colleges make the admissions process unfair?

Amber Kakkar, Staff Writer

From a young age, we are taught to believe that the key to success is working hard, with this idea being drilled into our brains throughout all of high school.  Then, as we grow older, we learn that this is but naive thinking.

Those with money and connections get ahead faster, taking every shortcut possible, while the rest are busy breaking down every obstacle possible simply to accomplish the same goal.

In light of the recent college admissions scandal, the weight that donations have on the admissions process comes into question.  How much are college acceptances skewed towards those who make donations to the school?  What about those who cannot afford to make donations?  Who deserves a spot more: “legacy” students who relied on their parents’ money and connections, or students who relied on their own hard work and merit?

One of the many problems with students’ parents making donations is that it discourages hard work.  Some of these students may develop the dangerous perspective that money will get them everything.

“I believe that donations to colleges are one of the largest problems when it comes to acceptance into universities,” said freshman Kevin Taylor.  “With donations, all a student needs are wealthy parents to pay and give them an edge on students who may deserve the spot more than them.”

Similar to donations, having legacy can also significantly sway college admissions.  Legacy can serve as the tiebreaker when deciding between two students.  By admitting legacy students, the family becomes more dedicated towards the school and therefore contributes more towards their endowments.

In order to improve and balance the legacy system, universities should institute a program where for every legacy admitted, a certain number of non-legacy students will also gain acceptance.

“Legacy plays a more significant role in college admissions than most people think.  Although it is clearly unethical, countless of parents, teachers, administrators, and admissions officers are somehow still allowing these types of acceptances to continue,” said freshman Alexandra Vesselinov.

In light of the recent scandal including Lori Loughlin, Felicity Huffman, and other wealthy families, the issue of unfair admissions policies has been given new attention all over the nation.

Essentially, the scandal included a series of injustices where parents paid substantial amounts of money to third parties to make their children look better on paper.  These include paying someone to take standardized tests, or even paying coaches to make their kids the captain of a team for a sport they’ve never even played.

The issue is that as soon as this scandal disappears from popular media, colleges will revert back to their old ways.  This is why the issue needs to be addressed now while it is still hitting headlines.  This can be done by forcing schools and legislation to proactively change their policies, and limit or ban donations.

“The college admissions scandal opened the eyes of many to a problem that has been occurring for a while.  Though many would like to believe college entrance is based on merit and merit only, the actions leaked in this scandal are nothing new.  Hopefully, the admissions process will improve and not be so swayed by money and power; either way, the scandal was a necessary, if unfortunate, reminder that success is not always fair game, and that something has to change,” said freshman Hannah Brooks.

Studies have repeatedly shown that lower-income students benefit far more, in terms of social mobility, from a higher level of education than people who are born into  higher socioeconomic class.  Legacy, money donations, and bribery hurts these very students, as they lose their opportunities to those who haven’t rightfully earned it.

While this issue is currently in the limelight, that does not mean the problem has been solved.  It is our duty to address it now and ensure that this corrupt system of donations and legacy changes.