Proving once again that journalism is most certainly not dead, news reports across the country (and the world) broke a massive college admissions scandal on March 12, following an FBI press conference.
50 people have been charged in Operation Varsity Blues, also known as the “biggest college admissions scandal ever” (though a Texan broadcast team labeled it much more accurately as “the biggest college admissions scandal ever prosecuted in the US.”) The wealthy scammers include former hedge fund CEO’s, authors, doctors, various corporate positions and, as the news repeatedly reminds the public, actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman.
The revelation sparked heated discussion throughout social media, in addition to many vloggers’ reactions. At the risk of jumping on the bandwagon, I felt the need to address the subject myself.
I wasn’t a good student in university. That isn’t something I normally spread around, but it is the facts. I tried harder in some classes than others. I developed a bad case of senioritis as early as my freshman year. Writing essays sickened me, though I could write 1,000+ word articles in my sleep. I considered dropping out numerous times. I wanted to work, and I did excel in all the jobs I held. I told myself there were others who would appreciate this experience more than I, but I also knew I’d carry the stigma for the rest of my life of being the only person in my family not to graduate. I loved learning, particularly comm, history, humanities and French. For the first time in my life, I hated English. All the required science classes, my second worst subject, drained me. But I perservered.
I gained numerous positions on The Scribe. I went away to Disney for a semester, reinvigorating my desire to finish college. I decided I needed to make a choice. I began college as a major in communications. After my excellent grades in history, I added it in as a second major. By the end of freshman year, I double-majored in communications and history, with a minor in French. Once grammar hit, I dropped the minor and continued with my double-major. Some people can balance a double just fine. For me, it got to be too much. Disney helped me so tremendously that in the last semester of uni, I nearly had a 4.0.
As a senior, I only applied to four colleges: the University of Richmond, Columbia University, the University of Colorado and Rhodes College. Before my college turmoil, I’d been an excellent student, in all areas but the maths and sciences. In nursery school, I was the shining star. In elementary, I read on a level far above the other kids. In middle, I wrote an essay that made an impact. In high school, I was on the honors track in both English and history, served as Literature Expert for Academic Team and Features Editor for the school newspaper and even won an award for one of my movie reviews. I achieved a 4.0-something GPA and 106% in Spanish class. By college, I suppose I was burnt out. I didn’t care about partying, or about the “college experience.” I just wanted to get it done and over with so I could start my journalism career.
I didn’t get into Richmond, my first choice, due to my issues with all maths but algebra. I did interview with Columbia, who politely told me that I’d be unlikely to get selected, unless I was a talented ukelele player. Rhodes in Memphis and UCCS in the Springs both wanted me. I ended up choosing UCCS, as it offered the better financial package and I was determined to avoid taking out any loans.
Of course, that didn’t happen. I went into loan debt just like the rest of us regular folk and receive at least three phone calls a day from different names with the same automated voice if I miss a payment. And that was from attending what these rich celebs and elites would deem an “unfit” school for their precious children who apparently can’t even take their own SAT’s. By the way, my ACT scores in reading and writing were top-notch (math and science, not so much.)
But, despite my struggles, I’m glad I attended UCCS. For one, while schools like Yale and Georgetown were working overtime to do damage control, UCCS tweeted about the impending blizzard. At this time, all four schools I applied to, as well as the one most of my family and friends attended, have not been named in the scandal.
Nestled high in the Colorado Springs mountains, the only university in the CU system to start with U cares about its students. The professors work with you; they want you to succeed. I can’t count how many wonderful professors the school blessed me with. The Office of Student Activities plans in-person talks by such people as Tarana Burke (the founder of Me Too,) Levar Burton (of Reading Rainbow) and Bill Nye, just to name a few. THEATREWORKS puts on incredible productions, as does the team at Dusty Loo Bon Vivant Theatre.
My parents didn’t pay to get me in there. Even if they could afford to hire someone to change my ACT score so that I could get into Richmond or Photoshop my picture onto an athlete knowing full well that I am not athletic, I wouldn’t want them to do so. In fact, I’d be enraged if they had that little faith in my talents and abilities to get myself in.
My grandfather started out as a poor Kansas farmboy, who managed to attend Kansas State in Manhattan and become an accounting professor with a 100-acre farm. Grandma began life as a poor daughter of Italian immigrants, later attending teaching college and earning her own career in a time when women were discouraged from working. Mom earned her degree; Dad earned his. My sister will have hers in May, along with student loan debt. Our family has never been wealthy, but we have something greater.
Mom and Dad are both honest, hardworking individuals who instilled those same values in both of their daughters. They taught us that if we want something, we have to work for it. Leeners is ending uni with a 4.0, her name printed on the dean’s list. She’s applied for scholarship after scholarship and been rejected from all of them, negating the belief some YouTube user said about smart people getting scholarships. This scandal should open the doors not only about the college admissions process, but into the whole college system as a whole. At the very least, stop trying to make those who never went feel inadequate.
Because college isn’t for everyone. As a former avid reader, I now struggle with finishing a novel after all those required reads. There shouldn’t be gen ed requirements when we all dealt with those in secondary. Our programs of interest should focus solely on the chosen field, just like they do in Europe. I fully believe I wouldn’t have struggled so much if I hadn’t been forced to take 12 credits of natural science, as a Communications major. More than anything, one university should not carry more clout than the other.
Someone suggested that the families pay off the entirety of American student loan debt as penance for their actions. I can’t say that would be a bad idea. While we’re at it, stop prioritizing legacies and granting entrance to ultra rich families when they buy a building or donate a library. When it all comes down to it, integrity should be far more important than where you attended university.