Many immigrants to the U.S. are enticed by the American Dream and the promise that everybody has an equal opportunity for success. However, with the recent college admissions scandal involving some of the top colleges in the nation and several celebrities, it is clear that money continues to be an important basis for success.
In the scheme led by businessman William Singer, affluent parents offered millions of dollars in bribe money to help their kids get into top colleges across the U.S. Among these colleges were schools such as Yale, Stanford and Georgetown. By raising their children’s standardized testing scores or having them admitted on collegiate-level teams of sports they have never played before, these parents spent a fortune and went through outrageous lengths to guarantee a spot in a college for their kids.
There is no doubt that this method of getting into university is wrong and that the participants are being rightfully condemned for it. But haven’t we seen instances of this happening every year?
Sure, it may not be the overly blatant bribes and the intricate system of photoshopping students’ faces onto athletes’ bodies to forge false achievements. However, we shouldn’t be so surprised when celebrities engage in this act when it is common knowledge that having more money seems to tip the college admissions chance in your favor.
For example, colleges pay special attention to children—also known as “development cases,” according to PrepScholar—of important or potential donors to the particular school. As institutes which have a budget, the colleges are more likely to accept applicants who would have a high return value through donations.
The fact that children of donors have an advantage over other less fortunate students shows the unfairness of the education system, which has been skewed toward the wealthy. Each underqualified development case student who is admitted is a less fortunate student who truly deserves their spot at the school, only to be rejected because of something they cannot control. Allowing development cases to continue means that colleges are trading talent and true desire to learn for mediocre, subpar capability with a high return value.
Besides development cases, money continues to guide the rich toward success in college admissions through expensive college counseling and more available opportunities. With money, students are able to achieve greater success and seem like a more able candidate (by participating in activities that require money, like sports and music lessons) than others who couldn’t participate if they wanted to.
There’s no easy way to make sure that money is not a factor in college admissions, but we could work toward a fairer admissions process by making donations anonymous or investigating more thoroughly into students’ applications.
In recent times, money has become a side door for the rich to sneak through to allow their kids to attend prestigious universities. With money as the decisive factor in multiple aspects of life, it seems that the American Dream where everyone has an equal opportunity for success is just an illusion.